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Action on Salt supports PHE's recommendations for baby and infant foods

27 June 2019

For more information, and to see the report please click here

Action on Salt supports Public Health Englands (PHE) recommendations following on from their findings in the report: Foods and drinks aimed at infants and young children: evidence and opportunities for action.

This report found some shocking results. Despite clear guidance that children and infants should not have salt or sugar added to their foods, some commercial baby foods do have added salt and/or sugar, most commonly in commercial baby finger foods, often marketed as snacks.

The UK Diet and Nutrition Survey of Infants and Young Children (DNSIYC) identified infants and young children are exceeding their daily recommendations for salt and sugar. NDNS data also identified children aged 1.5 to 3 years exceed recommendations.

  • Some foods marketed as healthy snacks are amongst those with the highest sugar content
  • Sweet snacking is being encouraged
  • Some product names don't reflect the balance of ingredients
  • Savoury finger foods (including puffs, crisps, biscuits, crackers, wafers) contain the highest levels of salt per 100g across all product types (up to 2.6g/100g)
  • Misleading labelling can give the impression commercial baby foods are the healthier alternative to homeamde

 PHE recommends the food industry and government:

  • Improves the nutrient content of products
  • Ensures clear, consistent and honest labelling and marketing of products
  • Ensures that products high in sugars are labelled as not being suitable for eating between meals
  • Restricts the use of implied health claims on baby food products


Mhairi Brown ANutr, Nutritionist for Action on Salt, said: “It is worrying that, despite clear government recommendations, salt and sugar are being added to baby and infant foods. We are all eating too much salt, which puts us at increased risk of health issues such as stroke and heart disease. Reducing population salt intake lowers death and disability from these health issues and saves the NHS millions of pounds in healthcare costs and by preventing children from developing a taste for salt in the first place, we have more chance of saving lives. It is time for the food industry to step up and improve the nutrition content and marketing of their products to help ensure a healthier future for the next generation”.

Dr Kawther Hashem RNutr (Public Health) - Campaign Lead for Action on Sugar, said: "The current state of the baby food market in the UK is shocking. As stated in the report sweet finger foods (including biscuits, wafers, puffs, bars, bites, fruit shapes) make up two-thirds of the baby finger food market, encouraging snacking from an early age and high exposure to sugary foods. It is long overdue for the Government to tackle this area and enforce the actions recommended in the report including developing mandatory guidelines on the free sugar content of infant foods for under 2's to encourage reformulation of baby food, including commercial weaning foods, supporting greater exposure of babies to a wider range of tastes, rather than predominantly sweet flavours.”



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