December newsletter 2018

Welcome to the December newsletter


Thank you to everyone who came to our conference on November 27th – it was lovely to see so many people there and you can see the programme and some of the presentations here on the website - Events.

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

UK Infant milk news


A new mail order only infant milk was launched in the UK last month from Arla foods. First infant milk and follow-on formula are available online under the ‘Baby and Me’ name. These organic milks made in Denmark retail at £12.00/800g. There is also a range of ‘Baby and Me’ porridges, one of which is marketed for infants from 4 months+.


We will include details of this product in the new year update of the Infant Milk reports.

Overdiagnosis and industry influence: how cows’ milk protein allergy is extending the reach of infant formula manufacturers.

Many of you will have seen the article in the British Medical Journal on 5th December. For anyone who hasn’t seen it it can be accessed here.

As a footnote to the article it states that the ’BMJ accepts advertisements for specialist breast milk substitutes provided that they are legal and honest and meet advertising standards. We expect all claims of health benefit to be supported by published peer reviewed research evidence.’

The issue of whether many adverts for BMS products are honest and provide sufficient evidence for claims made or implied remains an area that needs further exposure. In 2019 we will be publishing an update of our previous report ‘Scientific and Factual?’ a review of breastmilk substitute advertising to healthcare professionals.  We still believe that many of the adverts that health professionals are subjected to in professional journals and magazines are misleading and that the support of a claim by selected research evidence, even when this has been peer reviewed, is not in itself sufficient.


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.

First Steps is on the move


Over Christmas and the New Year we are moving into our new office in Vauxhall. Full details will be sent round in the January newsletter.
The First Steps office will be closed from 24th December until January 3rd.


Wishing everyone a relaxing and happy break.