Baby food in the news

FoodFacts.com has been noticing a great deal of information in the news lately regarding concerns over the nutritional quality of baby foods. After reading a variety of different articles discussing those concerns, we wanted to bring our community a snapshot of the current conversations.

If you were to input “baby food” into the FoodFacts.com search engine, your search would yield a number of different products, ranging from a health score of A all the way down through F. There are many quality, well-rated baby food products that do, in fact, offer consumers clean ingredient lists. So why is there so much press lately encouraging parents to make their own baby foods? Especially these days, when “busy” is a word so ingrained into our popular culture, a great majority of parents see purchasing prepared baby food as a necessity, not a choice. We thought we’d take a closer look at the issues behind the articles.

Sugar
We all understand that there is far too much sugar in the average American diet. And we all understand that the bulk of sugars consumed in an average day are coming from processed foods. But most of us probably don’t understand that our fondness for sweeter foods may just find its roots in prepared baby foods. In most instances the sugar content in baby food is coming directly from the fruits and vegetables used in the food. Certainly, that’s a better source of sugar than what we find in most processed foods. Sadly, though, most baby food is prepared from fruit and vegetable concentrates. Because of this, the final preparation contains much more sugar than it needs to.

For instance, Earth’s Best 3rd Fruits Bananas & Strawberries receives a C+ rating in our database. It has a fine ingredient list. Organic apples and strawberries are at the top of a short, readable list of ingredients. It also contains 27 grams of sugar for the one jar serving size. That’s 6.75 teaspoons of sugar in one jar. One small mashed banana contains 12 grams of sugar.

Another good example is Gerber Fruit Medley Spoonable Smoothies. This jar contains 25 grams of sugar – that’s still over 6 teaspoons in one jar.

Sodium
Six month old babies should only be consuming about 120 mg of sodium each day. There are plenty of jarred foods out there that come very close to this limit. You can look at Gerber Organic Vegetable Risotto with Cheese and find 110 mg of sodium in its one jar serving. You can also look up Beech-Nut Stage 2 Sweet Potato & Turkey and find 110 mg. of sodium on it’s nutrition label as well.

Then a parent could add a product like Gerber Yogurt Juice to their baby’s diet. This product contains 17 grams of sugar and 50 mg. of sodium. It can all add up very quickly because baby’s diet includes only small amounts of both sugar and sodium.

These are the two best reasons FoodFacts.com can think of for parents to try to fit home made baby food preparation into their schedules. We know, though, that schedules are pretty stretched. So if you can’t make your own, please make sure you are diligently reading ingredient lists and nutrition labels for the products you purchase for your little ones. FoodFacts.com has created the Foodfacts Baby Nutrition Guide (http://bit.ly/11sbCcN) to help you make sure the products you choose are the most nutritionally beneficial for your baby.

http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/the_kids/2013/09/homemade_versus_store_bought_baby_food_your_kitchen_beats_the_jars.2.html