New research from the University of Greenwich School of Science has revealed that the micro-nutrient content in ready-made baby meals contained less than a fifth of the recommended daily supply of calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and other minerals.
The research took eight different sample jars produced by four popular brands from the shelves of leading supermarkets and investigated the micro-nutrient content, using an instrument called an Inductivity Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectrometer, which is used for analysis of elements in food. The samples included four meat and four vegetable varieties, one with pasta, but specific manufacturers were not identified.
The research showed that infants given one meat jar and one vegetable jar on top of 600ml of formula milk would not be getting enough calcium, magnesium, copper and selenium. On average, the levels were below 20% of the recommended daily supply.
In her concluding report, the university’s food science and nutrition specialist, Dr Nazanin Zand, who conducted the research, said it was apparent that these complementary baby foods, when added to the daily milk supply, do not meet the recommended daily intake.
She added: “This may be one of the reasons why manufacturers of complementary ‘ready to eat’ infant meals do not declare the micronutrient contents of their products. This may provide opportunities and scope for both product and process optimizations to improve the nutritive value.
“It’s so important that babies are weaned from six months onwards with a healthy balance of complementary foods and breast milk, or follow-on formula at times when breast feeding is not possible.
“Our investigations showed that there was a need to improve the nutritional value of some complementary baby feeds. In addition, the regulations governing them need to be tighter and more robust.”
The report was published in Food Chemistry Journal.
- Nazanin Zand, Babur Z. Chowdhry, Francis B. Zotor, David S. Wray, Paul Amuna, Frank S. Pullen. Essential and trace elements content of commercial infant foods in the UK. Food Chemistry, 2011; 128 (1): 123 DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2011.03.005
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