I'm working with healthy baby and toddler food specialists Organix again this year, this time as part of their Junk Buster Panel. This month, we're investigating what's in baby and toddler food.
Junk Buster Panel
Over the next few months I'm working with Organix and some fellow bloggers to look in-depth at the labels on food targeted to our little ones.
As time-strapped parents, often distracted by our little ones as we shop, we need to be able to trust the labels and trust that manufacturers have our kids' health at heart - but sadly that isn't always the case.
With the baby and toddler snack sector growing significantly, Organix have become increasingly concerned about the quality and unnecessary ingredients in products. So, they commissioned a survey to look at parents’ attitudes to baby/toddler snacks, and find out what they think needs to change. The findings were rather worrying.
Some results from the survey:
Baby and toddler snacks can contain up to 30 ingredients.
68% of parents surveyed wish there were healthier options in the supermarket.
Some baby finger foods and toddler snacks contain almost the same level of salt as a bag of adult crisps.
Extra salt is added to some baby and toddler snacks to boost the flavour.
52% of parents surveyed said it’s difficult to find child-targeted snack food they can trust.
Some of the foods sold in the baby aisle are not protected by regulations.
72% complain about the lack of savoury snack choices compared to sweet.
Philipp von Jagow, Managing Director at Organix, says: “There’s been a massive explosion in the number of baby and toddler snacks available, but it’s come at a
nutritional cost. As brands have rushed to launch new foods, standards have slipped and we’ve seen sales of unhealthy snacks rise by 70% in the last 2 years.
I've been a No Junk Mum ambassador for Organix Foods for a few years now. I've long been buying their healthy kids snack for my little darlings and they're a brand that I trust, know and love.
Not only do they make no-junk baby snacks, but they also work hard behind the scenes to make the world a better for our kids.
It was a report commissioned by Organix that kick-started the healthy school dinners campaign. The serendipitous choice of launching their report at an organic pub around the corner from Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant, meant that the report was left for him. He obviously read it and it hit home. We all know that he then campaigned tirelessly to improve school dinners. (Side-eyes the government and their disgusting current plans to cut the earning threshold for free school meals).
Remember blue smarties? Organix realised that the mix of food colourings was making kids hyperactive so they campaigned to have them removed and more natural colourings used.
Without much fanfare, they've spent decades passionately making substatial changes. Read about Organix's campaigns.
The supermarket aisle
I know what it's like to stand in the supermarket aisle with a toddler wandering off and a hungry baby in the sling. I've been there, done that and worn the sick-stained t-shirt. There's just no time to read all of the labels, so I want to be able to trust the front of the packet.
But are all those claims valid? As a parent, it can sometimes feel like manufacturers take advantage of our exhaustion distraction to try to hoodwink us with green hearts and unsubstantiated words like 'natural'.
I've always thought of myself as a savvy shopper who looks out for the healthiest products for my family. I try to make fresh snacks when I can, but sometimes it's great to pick up handy on-the-go foods from the kids aisle.
As part of the Junk Buster Panel I'll be exploring, in future posts, what the terms 'all natural' and 'nutritious' really mean.
What can we do?
- Avoid long ingredient lists: go for fewer ingredients.
- Avoid added ingredients: there’s no need for anything unnecessary, so avoid foods with added salt, sugar or flavourings.
- Don't buy products with unrecognisable ingredients: go for simple ingredients – look at the back of the packet and choose something with simple ingredients – things that you recognise.
- Look for the organic logo: If you see an organic logo on pack you can feel sure what you buy has been made to the highest standards.
Organix have a No Junk Promise – they never add anything unnecessary and are always organic. Sadly not all kid-targeted food takes the same stance.
According to the survey, these are the areas where we most want to see change:
1. Brands to be more transparent and honest about what’s in their foods (64%).
2. Food industry to reduce levels of salt, fat and sugar in food targeted at babies/toddlers (63%).
3. Food manufacturers to put children’s health before profit (61%).
4. Food industry to take responsibility to provide quality healthy snack foods for little ones (60%).
5. More regulation to ensure food targeted at children is healthy and nutritious (60%).
What would you add to that list?
I'm on a junk busting mission and I'll be doing some of my own investigations – which will come in my next post!
Follow me and the other Junk Busters with #FoodYouCanTrust and share your tips, concerns and ideas.
Disclosure: This post was commissioned by Organix. All opinions are my own.