Posted on: June 27, 2019

Public Health England report - 'Foods and drinks aimed at infants and young children: evidence and opportunities for action'

In response to Public Health England’s Report 'Foods and drinks aimed at infants and young children' published today, Declan O’Brien – Director General of the BSNA representing baby food companies said:

“BSNA members wholeheartedly support measures to improve infant health and have been working with Public Health England to reformulate the content of products, recognising that they provide a convenient and valuable option for parents in feeding their children as part of a balanced diet for infants".

"Baby food products are already tightly regulated and are tailored to meet the specific needs of young children. At the same time, BSNA member companies are always working to improve their products and labelling. We will continue to work with Public Health England to support a healthy start in life for all infants.”

  • The majority of commercially available infant food products contain no added sugar or salt, and the category has already undertaken extensive reformulation to reduce the total sugar content of products. These products can encourage healthy eating habits in young children, including supporting incremental dietary, flavour and texture diversification.
  • Between 12-18 months of age, baby foods contributed only 6% of average daily total sugars in an infant’s diet (The Diet and Nutrition Survey of Infants and Young Children, 2011 - DHSC and FSA).
  • Like for like, commercial baby foods, have a similar sugar content whether commercially produced or made at home. (Carstairs et al 2016).
  • The report acknowledges that the salt content of baby food products is generally low. As such baby foods contribute very little to salt intake of this age group.
  • We support PHE recommendations for recurring surveys to provide information on the use of foods and drinks in infancy. This can help to better inform industry practice.
  • Baby specific foods are already highly regulated as a separate category of foods, with numerous provisions that recognise the specific needs of infants from first weaning to 3 years of age, including their particular dietary requirements and the higher food safety standards necessary for this young age group.
  • Commercial baby foods are governed through EU regulations in particular Regulation (EU) No 609/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council on food intended for infants and young children, food for special medical purposes, and total diet replacement for weight control and Commission Directive 2006/125/EC on processed cereal-based foods and baby foods for infants and young children.
  • Parents should be supported to provide a balanced diet whatever form of food they give their children.
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