The Guardian: Some baby foods less nutritious than a cheeseburger, says report.
Cheeseburgers and chocolate biscuits are more nutritious than some of the most popular baby foods from Britain's leading brands, a report claims.
The food company Heinz comes under fire in the research which found that Farley's rusks - a classic weaning food - contained more sugar than chocolate digestives, while its mini cheese biscuits, aimed at toddlers, contained more saturated fat per 100g than a McDonald's quarter pounder burger with cheese.
The survey by the Children's Food Campaign of 107 foods marketed for consumption by babies and young children - all bought from mainstream British supermarkets - shows that a high proportion of these foods are high in saturated fat, salt and sugar. Only half of all the products surveyed were low in saturated fat, salt and sugar, while for Heinz products this figure was one in four.
In the case of Cow & Gate, one in nine products were high in sugar.
Its Baby Balance bear biscuits were also found to contain unhealthy trans fats - which have proven links with heart disease - and were also poorly labeled. The biscuits have recently been withdrawn from sale.
The Children's Food Campaign (CFC) works to improve children's health and well being through better food, and is supported by more than 300 national and local health organizations and 12,000 members of the public.
CFC joint coordinator Christine Haigh said: "Many foods marketed for babies and young children are advertised as 'healthy'. In reality, in terms of sugar and saturated fat content, some are worse than junk food. In particular, failing to correctly label products that contain dangerous trans fats is outrageous."
The results of the survey follow those of an investigation in 2000 by the Food Commission which exposed the high levels of sugar in baby biscuits, and which urged manufacturers to reduce the amount.
In a statement, Heinz said: "Farley's rusks have been enjoyed by generations of babies, and some adults too, for 120 years. Enriched with vitamins and minerals, the unique Farley's rusk recipe has remained virtually unchanged."
The company said it offered a range of reduced sugar rusks providing 30% less sugar than Farley's original rusks: "They [Farley's rusks] also contain very little fat and, in keeping with the special nutritional needs of infants, contain no added salt." Heinz said it was misleading to compare its mini cheese biscuits with a McDonald's quarter pounder with cheese which is consumed in a much larger portion size.
A spokeswoman for Cow & Gate said: "Today, more than 90% of the Cow & Gate baby food range contains only naturally occurring sugars and ... no added sugar."
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