Panorama received the following comments from the companies referenced in What's Really in Our Kids' Food?
Annabel Karmel Eat Fussy Lasagne
All the Eat Fussy meals comply with the "The Processed Cereal Based Foods and Baby Foods for Infants and Young Children (England) Regulations (2003)". There are no unnatural ingredients and to portray this as an unhealthy meal for a child is misleading. Detailed nutritional information is provided on pack for each Eat Fussy meal, giving parents the opportunity to make informed decisions on their child's daily diet.
The lasagne does contain more fat due to the cheese content which is a nutritious food providing much needed protein and calcium to a child. Babies and Toddlers need proportionately more fat in their diet than adults. Energy dense foods like cheese, meat and eggs are needed to fuel their rapid growth and development and fat provides more than 50% of the energy in breast milk. A low fat diet is not appropriate for very young children. It is particularly inappropriate for a fussy child who needs nutrient dense foods like cheese and eggs in their diet.
Most toddlers would not eat a whole portion as we also sell our meals to older children. If a mum has a very young child then she can divide the meal (we state this is a generous portion on pack) and this is what many of our customers do.
Regarding the other nutritional elements you refer to such as sugar and salt, it is perfectly possible for any of the Eat Fussy Meals to be balanced with other items on any one day, still keeping within nutritional guidelines. This would certainly be the case if a child consumed a whole lasagne.
Zinc is important for growth and we highlight this on the packaging for our customers who may not be aware of this. This and all other health/nutrition claims are subject to detailed UK and European legislation (EC No 1924/2006).
Our Home Authority have confirmed that the zinc statement on the lasagne complies with this legislation. We have included important nutrients in the range which children do not eat enough of. The Salmon and Cod Fish Pie provides essential fatty acids which are often lacking in a child's diet and the lasagne provides iron and iron deficiency is the commonest nutritional deficiency in your children
Eat Fussy range is spearheading the quality of children's meals whilst not compromising on taste. It is the number one branded children's ready meal. All the meals in the range give parents the opportunity to provide a balanced diet for a child.
However we constantly test our products on consumers and respond to feedback to alter recipes. To this end we have recently decided to remove sugar from our ingredients in all the range.
Cow & Gate on Growing Up Milk
Dr Janet Warren, Registered Dietician, Cow & Gate:
Using Growing Up Milk is an excellent way to ensure that toddlers get enough of key nutrients that may be lacking in their diets, such as iron.
It can be challenging to make sure toddlers eat a healthy balanced diet, so our Growing Up Milk is nutritionally tailored to provide key minerals and vitamins like iron, zinc and vitamin D as part of a mixed diet. Cows' milk is a poor source of these nutrients so using Growing Up Milk can make good sense.
Furthermore, I would like to take the opportunity to respond in more detail to the points raised by your nutritionist as follows:
- It is marketed as having much more iron than cows' milk but a one year old will be getting iron from the food in their diet, so wouldn't need milk to be the main source of iron;
A child over one year who is eating a healthy varied diet would indeed rely on iron-containing foods to meet their iron requirements; cows' milk is not a rich source of iron. Inadequate iron intakes are one of the most common nutritional concerns in you children. Many children do not meet their requirements for iron due to limited or nutritionally poor diets, an over-reliance on cows' milk or because of fussy eating. The last UK National Diet Survey in 1995 showed that 84% of toddlers were not meeting the recommended intake for iron. Growing Up Milk is an additional source of iron and can help meet the iron requirements of children who are not getting the recommended amount of iron from the food in their diet.
- Growing Up Milk contains 50% more sugar than full fat cows milk;
Similar to cows' milk, the sugar in Growing Up Milk is virtually all naturally occurring milk sugar (lactose). Per 100ml, Growing Up Milk contains 6.6g of sugar compared to 4.5g of sugar in cows' milk. Growing Up Milk has been specifically designed to contain more carbohydrate (sugar) and less protein than cows' milk because excessive protein intakes have been linked to obesity in this age group. By altering the proportion of carbohydrate and protein the overall calorie or energy intake of Growing Up Milk is similar to that of cows' milk.
- Growing Up Milk costs twice as much as full fat cows' milk;
Growing Up Milk is more expensive than cows' milk because it has been specifically tailored to meet the nutritional needs of toddlers. Growing Up Milk contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals in addition to iron, including vitamin D and zinc, two nutrients which may also be lacking in toddler diets. Cows' milk is not a rich source of vitamin D or zinc.
- Government advice is that infants aged 12 months+ can drink full fat cows' milk;
Although government advice state that infants can have cows' milk from 12 months of age, this may not be the best option for all children. This advice also stresses the importance of a child eating a varied and balanced food intake from 12 months to ensure adequate nutrient intake. It can be difficult to achieve the recommended intake of all nutrients in young children every day, and as discussed above, inadequate intakes of particular nutrients (iron, vitamin D and zinc) are relatively common.
The role of fortified formula (such as Growing Up Milk) has been recognised for over 10 years where there are concerns about the adequacy of the diet.
"As a pragmatic policy extended use of iron fortified formulas until the age of 1 year is now well accepted and there are arguments for extending its use into the toddler years if there are concerns about eh adequacy of the diet." (Wharton BA. Nutrition in Infancy Briefing Paper. British Nutrition Foundations. 1997. London)
Furthermore a recent study in New Zealand found that the consumption of Growing Up Milk was an effective and practical way of improving iron intake and status in toddlers.
"Encouraging the consumption of iron-fortified milk in place of non-fortified cow milk from the age of 12-24 months is an efficacious strategy to improve iron status in toddlers that does not require radical changes in dietary habits." (Szymlek-Gay EA, et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Published ahead of print, 14 October 2009, reference as doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27588).
Britvic Fruit Shoot juice drinks
Britvic nutritionist Julie Dean:
85% of all Fruit Shoot juice drinks now purchased are low sugar with less than 2.4 grams of sugar per 200ml.
Fruit Shoot offers a range of choices to parents to suit a variety of needs and occasions including Fruit Shoot H2O - a low-calorie flavoured water - and Fruit Shoot 100% pure juice that counts as one of the recommended 5-a-day.
We provide clear nutritional information on packs so that parents can make an informed choice about what suits them and their families. We would also like to make clear that Fruit Shoot, like all Britvic products, is not marketed to children under 5 years old.
Stream Foods Limited Managing Director Ian Ding:
I must say, our view is very similar to that of your own nutritionist. The healthiest option for a child's 'snack' is a piece of fruit and we make no pretence of anything else.
We believe however that our products represent a real alternative to chocolate and crisps and this alternative is both nutritionally beneficial and equally as attractive to eat.
We never market our range as an alternative to fruit and certainly do not encourage any children to eat less fruit. Interestingly, our research indicates that our products can act as an introduction to fruit for those children who do not currently eat fruit (or use the apple in the lunch box as a football!).
Certainly people who buy our Fruit Flakes range are people who typically buy more fruit than would be the norm for the population as a whole.
HiPP Organic Good Night Milk
HiPP Organic Good Night Milk is a specially formulated bedtime milk drink for babies from 6 months onwards that, of course, meets all the compositional requirements of a follow on milk, as set out in the EC and UK legislation. HiPP Organic Good Night Milk offers a valuable and nutritious option for mothers who formula feed their babies. It should be used just once a day and only in babies who are 6 months or older.
So what makes HiPP Organic Good Night Milk different from standard follow on milks? HiPP Organic Good Night Milk is made with organic follow on milk to which organic gluten free cereals have been added. These added cereals (rice and buckwheat) provide easy-to-digest, gluten free starch which thickens the follow on milk they are mixed with. The thicker consistency of HiPP Organic Good Night Milk compared with standard follow on milks results in a formula with a slower gastric emptying rate which slightly increases satiety. In addition, HiPP Organic Good Night milk has a higher casein: whey ratio (80:20) than our standard Follow on Milk (60:40) resulting in a slower gastric emptying time. This as well as the slightly higher protein content of HiPP Organic Good Night Milk compared with our standard follow on milk formula may be linked to improved satiety.
Despite there being limited scientific literature to support the use of these products to help babies sleep better, HiPP Organic Good Night Milk has proved to be a popular product with parents and babies seem to like this satisfying milk formula as part of their bedtime routine.
Thickened milk formulas containing cereals have traditionally been used in many European countries and it is a practice widely accepted amongst Swedish mothers (Välling) and in Germany. German mothers are known to be convinced about the satiating effects of starch in milk formulas (Kersting 2001). In addition, the soothing remedy of a warm milk drink at bedtime goes back in history and is practised in Europe and North America. There are currently two 'Good Night Milks' available in the UK, the HiPP product and one from Cow & Gate.
In summary, HiPP Organic Good Night Milk is a satisfyingly creamy follow on milk made from high quality organic milk with added organic cereals. It provides all the nutrients required in a follow on formula and meets all the required Regulations. It can be incorporated into a baby's bedtime routine from 6 months of age as an alternative to their normal bedtime milk feed. HiPP Organic Good Night Milk is well tolerated and well digested by babies and has become a very popular product with their parents too.
Petits Filous fromage frais
Jerome Labalette, Marketing Manager, Yoplait UK Ltd:
Stating that "if a child ate one fromage frais every day for a year, they would consume more than two kilos of sugar" does not really make sense to me and here are the reasons why:
As an introduction I would like to insist on the fact that in order to cover all the nutritional needs of a child, a wide variety of foods should be consumed. Each product provides certain specific nutrients. For example, dairy products will significantly provide calcium.
No single product can cover all nutritional needs in a balanced way. Therefore the calculation of the quantity of one single nutrient (such as sugar), on its own and without reference to the daily estimated requirements (see below) does not make much sense.
A child who is very active and growing needs a lot of energy including energy coming from sugars.
Dairy products bring various types of sugar: lactose (sugar naturally present in milk), saccharose, fructose
along with other nutrients such as proteins, low level of fat and some vitamins and minerals. Dairy products are thus considered being "dense" in essential nutrients.
Energy and added sugar:
Here are the official Estimated Average Requirements for energy:
In the UK, the maximum added sugar per day should be no more than 11% of energy (source : Food Standards Agency (FSA))
So as an example, a boy aged 4-6 yr. will require 1715 kcal a day.
11% of these 1715 kcal equal to 188.6 kcal
We divide these 188.6 Kcal by 4 to get the maximum added sugar (since 1g of sugar equals to 4 kcal)
The result is 47.2g of added sugar per day.
One 50g pot of Petits Filous per day:
- Provides 4.6g of added sugar. This represents 18.4 kcal or around 1% of the total daily energy needed for a boy aged 4 to 6 years. These 4.6g represent less than 1/10th of the added sugar daily intake accepted by the FSA.
- Provides 6.2g of total sugars which is 24.8 kcal or 1.4% of Average Energy Requirements per day for a boy aged 4 to 6 years or 2% of the Average Energy Requirements for a boy aged 1 to 3 years.
In conclusion, we consider that 1 pot of Petits Filous a day provides many essential nutrients and a reasonable amount of added sugar.