Earlier this year, consumer advocacy group Choice 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.
It 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”.
Meanwhile, a range of prepared toddler meals investigated by nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton and advocacy group Parents’ Voice found supermarket toddler meals to be too salty.
"Many Australian toddlers are consuming their recommended daily salt intake in just one sitting," Stanton said.
She questioned the use of added salt in Only Organic Vegetable Macaroni Cheese, Only Organic Beef Bolognese Pasta and Heinz Little Kids Ravioli Bolognaise.
“Adding salt to products marketed to children is unwise and unnecessary,” she said.
As for Choice, the majority of the snacks it looked at referenced fruit, vegetables, yoghurt and organic ingredients in their name or label, creating a ‘health halo’ around products that, the group argues, do not often deserve it.
“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,” head of media Tom 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 high in sugar.
- Heinz Little Kids Fruit & Chia Shredz claims to be “naturally sweetened with fruit ingredients” but the product is 35 per cent 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 per cent 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.