Choice has criticised baby and toddler snacks from brands such as Heinz and Rafferty's Garden for often containing up to 60 per cent sugar and offering few health benefits.
The consumer advocacy group tested over 80 snacks which claimed to be healthy, but offered “significantly smaller amounts of fruit and vegetables than you might expect from their product names”.
“The majority of the snacks we looked at referenced fruit, vegetables, yoghurt and organic ingredients in their name or label, creating a ‘health halo’ around products that often don't deserve it,” said Choice head of media Tom Godfrey.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend one-to-two-year-old babies eat half a standard serve of fruit, and two to three serves of vegetables each day.
“A common practice is to sweeten products with fruit juice concentrate, an ingredient that sounds positively healthy but is simply a form of added sugar,” Godfrey said.
“Many baby snacks are also highly processed, containing little more than refined carbohydrates, which can be problematic for developing teeth."
Choice cited the following five 'offenders' in its test results:
- Rafferty's Garden Yoghurt Buttons (Mixed Berry) are 93.5% yoghurt, but sugar is the third ingredient in this yoghurt, resulting in a product that's more than 60% sugar.
- Heinz Little Kids Fruit & Chia Shredz claims to be “naturally sweetened with fruit ingredients" but the product is 35% apple juice concentrate, with a small 18g serve containing the equivalent of more than three teaspoons of sugar.
- Heinz Little Kids Wholegrain Cereal Bars Apple & Blueberry and Rafferty's Garden Fruit Snack Bar Apple have more than 40% total sugars.
- Kiddylicious Apple Fruit Wriggles claim to be 'made with real fruit', but the ingredients list reveals the bulk of the 'real' fruit is fruit juice concentrate and at $1.80 for a 12g pack ($150 per kilo), it costs a lot more than an 80c supermarket apple ($4.50 per kilo).
- The vegetable content of Baby Mum-Mum First Rice Rusks Vegetable includes kale, carrot, cabbage and spinach, but combined they make up less than 1.5% of the product.