February newsletter 2019

Welcome to the February newsletter


Welcome to the first newsletter of 2019, and welcome to all our new newsletter subscribers.

This month we have updates to our infant milk reports and some infant milk news and reminders about some publications that came out at the end of last year. First Steps is moving into a new office in February 2019 and we are also pleased to announce the appointment of Vicky Sibson as deputy director for the charity. Vicky will be working with us 4 days a week from this month.


Introducing Vicky


Vicky is a Public Health Nutritionist with a masters degree from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Vicky has spent most of her career working as a nutrition adviser in international NGOs, largely in humanitarian settings. During this time she gained a particular interest in and passion for infant and young child nutrition and feeding as well as operational research. She led Save the Children's emergency nutrition response to Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar in 2008, concentrating on protecting, promoting and supporting optimal infant feeding among the cyclone affected populations. Vicky is looking forward to bringing her international experience to bear in the UK context.



First Steps new address:

The Food Exchange
New Covent Garden Market
London SW8 5EL


Infant milk news


Many of our readers will have followed our investigation into changes to Aptamil formulations last year, and you can read the statements we made outlining the questions we asked Danone Nutricia about the reformulated product, and the responses we received here.


One of our questions to the Department of Health and Social Care regulators was whether, under UK food law, the presence of fermented ingredients in a product should be included on the label. We have now been told by the regulatory team at DHSC that yes, the presence of a fermented ingredient in infant milks should have been highlighted on the label. Danone Nutricia have been asked to amend their labels ‘at their next labelling update’. In adding this information to the label, however, we hope that no claims for any benefit for the addition of fermented ingredients will be made or implied.

We have updated the section on formula with added fermented ingredients (also known as ‘acidified milks’ or milks with ‘postbiotics’) in section 3.12.1 of the report Infant Milks in the UK. In our review of the available data there is insufficient evidence to suggest any benefit to the addition of fermented milk to infant formula.


Those that shop in Lidl may have noticed that Aptamil and Cow & Gate infant milks sold in this shop are packaged in tins, not in cardboard packs (the manufacturer calls these Ezypacks) and are 700g rather than the standard 800g. The price however is the same /100g wherever you buy the product. We have been told that the product is the same composition regardless of packaging type, but as the tinned product is not made in the same factory, Aptamil and Cow & Gate products marketed in tins at Lidl are not halal approved.


Infant milk report updates


We have updated this report and you can see the sections of the report that have had changes made to them here.

We have included new tables which highlight products that are only available by mail order in the UK. At the moment, however, it is not clear where Castlemil milk can be purchased, or the cost of these products, so please do get in touch if you come across families using this brand of infant milk.


We have also updated the following reports:

In case you missed it:

New Reports on processed dried fruit snacks and fruit and vegetable based purées in pouches.

We launched two new reports at our conference which take a further look at some of the foods marketed to infants and young children in the UK.


Both reports make a series of recommendations as to how these products may be better labelled and formulated to protect infant and young child health. We are extremely concerned that high sugar foods and snacks are marketed to families as being ‘fruit and vegetable’ equivalent and that families are being misled as to the healthiness of products. We hope these reports are useful to health professionals when discussing eating well with families they work with and we will be using this work as we press for better compositional and labelling regulations for baby food in the UK


Sweet enough already: artificial sweeteners in the diets of young children in the UK

This new short report looks at the data available on artificial sweetener intake in infants and young children in the UK, and highlights an increasing trend for artificially sweetened products on the market.


The key message from this report is that there needs to be much more research on the impact of the current sugar reduction programme on the intakes of sweeteners by vulnerable population groups. Better public health messaging is also needed to highlight that overall sweet tastes in foods should be reduced and that simple sugar replacement with sweeteners may lead to unintended consequences for some consumers.