What ingredients are there and what is necessary? Children’s food lures the little ones with colorful packaging and a special taste, giving parents the impression that they are healthy. This can be misleading because the so-called child-care means are not subject to such a strict law as baby food.
Ingredients in childhood
Children’s food is subject to the Food Act, while for babies in the first year of life the stricter dietary regulation applies. Both in the presentation and taste, special products for children are particularly tempting and are advertised appropriately.
This also applies to the parents, who are promised that a product is particularly healthy by this or that content. On the other hand, no further mention is made of the other ingredients, which can either be superfluous or even harmful to health. The “Research Institute for Child Nutrition Dortmund” (FKE) 2001 came to this conclusion in a study.
What and how much is there?
What is contained in children’s foods can be found in the list of ingredients? This should also enable laypersons to recognize whether a product is healthy or rather questionable. However, even in the case of a formal declaration, manufacturers have legal ways to mislead the consumer.
It is obligatory that the order of the information is made in descending order: the ingredients with the highest weight are initially, the lowest with the end.
Here, however, the first fall knot lurks. It may well be true that the label does not contain sugar or crystal sugar. However, this does not necessarily mean that a product is sugar-free: at the end of the ingredients, there may be milk sugar, fruit sugar, dextrose, honey and syrup in relatively low concentrations.
If the proportions of all types of sugar are summarized, a considerable sum may emerge. Although this is promoted with “no added sugar, ” and this also promises the list of ingredients, at first sight, the product may consist mainly of sugar and is therefore not recommendable.
For the layperson also not quite easy to recognize are designations, which point to different additives. Also, the quality is decisive: were extracts from fruits used or is it an industrially produced additive with similar color and similar taste? A more accurate analysis is therefore useful.
This is questionable or superfluous
Frequently, children’s foods contain too much sugar. This is calorie-rich, promotes caries and has a low nutritional value. This can also be the case when low sugar content or “without crystal sugar” is promoted.
Another criterion is the fat or oil content and its quality. In cured fats and oils trans fatty acids are suspected of promoting heart and circulatory diseases. The composition should be based on saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Unsaturated substances are valuable for the organism, but saturated ones can hardly be used.
Nutrition experts are still discordant about the vitamin content. Researchers at FKE fear that children’s foods are often added to many vitamins and minerals. A balanced diet could cover the daily need, and enrichment of children’s food would, therefore, be superfluous.
In the case of water-soluble vitamins, there are no health concerns, because the body exudes what it does not need. Fat-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, are stored, which can lead to undesirable side-effects in an over-supply, so the opinion of critical scientists.
In the case of minerals, their ratio is decisive: if the body receives a mineral in excess, the organism may not possibly exploit another optimally. This can lead to extreme shortages.
There is also no clear clarity about various additives, in particular, their interaction. Numerous children’s foods are enriched with aromas, dyes, flavor enhancers, acids, and thickeners.
A contained fruit aroma does not mean that a particular fruit has been processed in a foodstuff. Industrially produced coloring and flavorings are also possible. Experts are afraid of taste enhancers that they affect taste for fresh and natural foods.
As a result, children prefer industrial food. The designations E 620 to E 625 are typical indications for an artificial addition. Products enriched with citric acid or other acids are not recommended, as they can damage the molten tooth.
In an otherwise balanced mixed food, dietary experts see no problem when your child is consumed by something mashed or products declared as a child’s food. We recommend varied meals with whole grain cereals, fish, meat, fresh fruits, vegetables, and lettuce, as well as milk products such as cheese, curd, and natural yogurt. When using oil, make sure that it contains unsaturated fatty acids.
When finished products for children are bought, the Council is to scrutinize the ingredients more closely: The Stiftung Warentest does not evaluate all children’s food negatively, so there are quite responsible manufacturers.
In the case of babies, non-lactating mothers, on the other hand, can hardly do without finished products. At the latest with the introduction of Beikost, these are often used. Since baby food is subject to the dietary regulation, there are fewer concerns here than in children’s food. Nevertheless, there are differences in quality.
Ökotest rated 2012 in a study Babyn food with rapeseed oil particularly well, since it contains valuable omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to test results, various seals provide information on the quality of baby food. Some manufacturers have their products inspected regularly and may mark them accordingly. Approved organic seals also provide an indication.
For example, a mixture of meat, potatoes and vegetables, milk-cereal mash and fruit pulp with cereals is recommended for Breakout. Particular attention should be paid to adequate vitamin C and iron supply in the baby food phase. Products such as chocolate mash are not recommended. Here you will find a selection of baby food from different manufacturers.
Conclusion – the following ingredients are superfluous or questionable:
- saturated fatty acids
- Vitamin and mineral supplements
- flavor enhancer
- citric acid