As most readers will know there has been considerable publicity about changes to the composition of some Danone Nutricia Aptamil brand infant milks. We have made a statement about what we know so far about the changes to products and you can access this here, and in the statements section below.
Many people have been shocked that we have no clear mechanism to hold breastmilk substitute companies to account when there are reports of infants becoming ill or when information about new products is not easily available. There remains an urgent need to create an independent body that has oversight of the breastmilk substitute market in the UK to review both composition, labelling, safety and marketing of products.
The following reports have been updated in July 2018.
We have also been unable to find out more about the ‘postbiotics’ in Aptamil Follow-on Formula that Danone Nutricia are making claims for in the health professional literature. These are apparently bioactive compounds produced during processing, but no details have been provided to us on how these are produced. There are no new compounds on the ingredients list for Aptamil Follow-on formula. A number of extravagant claims are being made for the benefits of postbiotics in the advertising to health professionals we have seen and we will review these claims when we have more information on how the formula is processed to include them.
July newsletter (part 1)
Infant milk updates
We have a correction to some information we were provided with for the last infant milk report and this has been updated in the reports on the website. Kendamil have told us that Kendamil Organic Infant formula is not suitable for vegetarians and that Kendamil Mehadrin formula has not been certified as a halal product (but it is kosher).
New products launched in June and July
SMA have launched a range of new organic formula: first infant formula, follow on formula and growing up milk. We have the compositional details for these products and will update the infant milk reports as soon as we can to include these.
Aptamil have also reformulated some of their infant milks (we do not know as yet exactly which products), some of which are being advertised in the health professional literature. We have seen two newly branded products for sale in Boots (First infant milk and Comfort milk), however we have not as yet received product information or seen it on the Danone Nutricia website. We will update the compositional information for these products as soon we can.
One thing to note is that the new formulations appear to now be 800g rather than 900g per pack, as shown for the new Aptamil 1 formulation below. The price however remains the same, which means an increase in cost of about £1.16 a week for those feeding a 2-3 month old on the new Aptamil first infant formula. We will also update the costs report as soon as we can get hold of new information.
The Aptamil packaging has also been changed to use the ‘shield’ as the main graphic on the front of the pack. The brand font size remains the most dominant feature and the idealising image of a baby polar bear remains.
Prebiotics, probiotics, synbiotics …..postbiotics
Aptamil is marketed to health professionals under the Nutricia Early Life Nutrition branding, which appears on their adverts, and information is provided through their website www.eln.nutricia.co.uk. The advertising for the new formulation of Aptamil makes claims for the addition of ‘postbiotics’ with claims about how these can support the immune system and the gut microbiota. The considerable number of people working at a large food multi-national like Danone Nutricia allows them to market new products and ingredients with articles and adverts citing numerous references. Some of the references they use are difficult to obtain and it is a challenge for us to wade through all the evidence cited to explain why the claims made might be (are?) misleading. We will explain the concept of ‘postbiotics’ in the next update of the infant milk report.
We will just note here that the claims being made in the advert for Aptamil 2 Follow on milk ‘next generation’ formula (in the Journal of Health Visiting, June 2018) that relate to ‘increasing microbiota activity’ are only supported by evidence from a poster and an oral presentation from a conference, and not by evidence from a peer reviewed scientific paper as is still required in our regulations.
Department of Health and Social Care
Childhood Obesity: A plan for Action chapter 2
Many of you will have seen the headlines about the proposals in chapter 2 of the obesity plan. These have been greeted by some as revolutionary and others as ‘could do better’. Most attention has been on the recommendations on reducing sugar, calorie labelling and restricting promotions and advertising of foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar. You can read the full plan here
A few things in the plan that may have passed people by:
There is a commitment to review the Healthy Start scheme, although the wording is vague and appears to suggest it will only review this in terms of an offer to children:
‘We will consult, before the end of 2018, on our plans to use Healthy Start vouchers to provide additional support to children from lower income families.’
It is important to note that the commitment to the Healthy Start scheme in Chapter 1 of the obesity plan led to no action, and an increasing decline in numbers eligible for the scheme across the UK. We do however hope this new consultation will take place and our new report on Healthy Start will be published this summer to provide some ideas for action.
We are also pleased to see the following mentioned in the plan:
‘As part of the next phase of the sugar reduction programme we will review the scope for reformulation of product ranges aimed exclusively at babies and young children. PHE will review the evidence and publish their approach in 2019.’
Since the definition of ‘free sugars’ (those sugars that we are trying to reduce in the diet) now includes sugars in commercial processed vegetable and fruit purees as well as those in snack foods made from purees, juices or other processed fruit products, it will take more than looking at the scope for reformulation to improve this product category. But we welcome any review in a category that has been overlooked to date by Government and most campaigners. You can find out more about pouches and jars of baby food marketed to infants in the UK here.
We are currently looking again at fruit and vegetable purees in pouches as well as dried fruit snacks marketed to infants and young children, and hope to report on these product categories before the end of the year.
Scottish Government Welfare Foods consultation
We put in our response to the Scottish Government consultation on Welfare Foods. It is suggested that Healthy Start be renamed as ‘Best Start foods’ to tie in with their comprehensive Best Start support package for low income families.
Live or work in London? Respond to the Draft London Food Strategy
There are a number of recommendations relating to maternity and early years in the strategy and responses supporting those recommendations you agree with, challenging those you don’t or suggestions to take things further will support the food team in making the strategy a reality.
This new resource provides information and ideas on snacks for 1-4 year olds. We have provided information on snacks which are quick and easy and which are particularly suitable when out and about, and snacks that could be offered in early years settings.
The snacks support the guidance in the recently updated Voluntary food and drink guidelines for early years settings in England.
Appropriate snacks are important for both meeting the nutritional needs of young children but also for protecting emerging and developing teeth. The resource is currently available as a free pdf download but some hard copies will be available in due course.
First Steps Nutrition Trust offers information and resources to support good nutrition from pre-conception to 5 years. Our aim is to produce clear and independent resources to support people who want to know more about eating well before and during pregnancy, eating well for infants and young children, and food composition and food quality.
First Steps Nutrition Trust takes no industry funding and fully supports the WHO Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent World Health Assembly Resolutions. We are funded through grants and donations. We aim to provide a one-stop shop for useful and accurate evidence-based information on good nutrition from pre-conception to five years. To find out more about the Trust, visit our homepage.