All children deserve the best start in life, ensuring they can grow and develop in the healthiest way possible.
The processed food industry uses harmful sugar ingredients in foods for infants and toddlers and promotes these foods using claims and product names to make them appear healthy.
The government should set higher standards for the composition, labelling and promotion of infant and toddler foods to protect our youngest consumers.
Harmful sugars in toddler foods
A recent CHOICE survey found that over half of all toddler snack foods contained sugars that are harmful to health, including fruit juice concentrate, fruit paste and fruit powder, sugar and syrups.
There is currently no regulation to limit the amount of harmful sugars that can be added to commercial foods for toddlers or for infants. We are advocating for government to set higher standards to protect our youngest consumers.
See our short brief on Reforms to reduce harmful sugars in commercial infant and toddler foods.
Don't be sweet-talked
'Made with real fruit' – it has to be healthy, doesn’t it?
Processed food companies know that when people see the word 'fruit' they think 'health'. So they plaster it all over the packaging, especially on kids’ food.
But the ‘fruit’ that is in many of these products is nothing like real, whole fruit. Instead, they actually contain a sticky, sugary paste or concentrate, extracted from fruit but without all the goodness. This is done by sieving it, boiling it, and removing all its water, until it is barely more than a pile of sugar. See how this is done to a simple wholesome apple.
It doesn’t matter if it’s sugar from fruit concentrate, honey, dextrose, sugar cane, or any of the other 60+ names it goes by. Sugar is sugar is sugar, no matter where it’s from and what marketing spin it’s hiding behind.
Parents deserve to know what’s really in products made for babies and toddlers. That’s why we are advocating for harmful sugars to be clearly defined and listed separately on the nutrition information panel.
See our short brief on Reforms to improve consumer awareness and understanding of harmful sugars.
Confusing labelling of infant and toddler foods
Our research found that, one in four infant and toddler products had names that did not accurately reflect the ingredients. Product names often included fruits or vegetables, yet in many cases only contained flavouring or powder and no beneficial vegetable or fruit ingredients. This plays into consumers’ desire to provide their child with healthy and nutritious food and may confuse them about the actual health and nutritional benefits of the product.
We are advocating for the government to expand existing labelling standards to ensure that the labelling of infant and toddler foods accurately reflects ingredients and does not confuse consumers.
See our short brief on Reforms to improve the labelling of commercial infant and toddler foods.
Promotion of infant and toddler foods
Our research on infant and toddler products found that, all products carry claims, with up to 17 different claims on a single product. The use of many claims on the packaging of a single infant and toddler food, even if individual claims are true, can take away from its less favourable qualities, imply that the product is better than family foods and create an overall impression that a product is beneficial for the health of a child.
We are advocating for the government to set higher standards for the promotion of infant and toddler foods to ensure claims and statements can’t be used to confuse consumers.
See our short brief on Reforms to improve the promotion of commercial infant and toddler foods.
What we’re advocating for
To protect our youngest consumers, we want the government to raise the bar when it comes to the standards set for the composition, labelling and promotion of infant and toddler foods. This means regulation to ensure:
- Harmful sugars are easily identified by consumers – that is:
- an accurate definition of ‘added sugar’ that includes all sugars that are harmful to health (free sugars); and
- ‘added sugar’ as a separate line item on the nutrition information panel.
- There are no harmful sugars in commercial foods for infants and toddlers (with limited exceptions).
- Sweet snacks and confectionary are not marketed as suitable for infants and toddlers.
- Front-of-pack product names for commercial infant and toddler foods accurately reflect ingredients.
- Claims and promotional statements cannot be made on commercial infant and toddler foods.
Are you sick of the sweet-talk and want to help us advocate to protect the health of our kids now and into the future? Download the assets below to use and share these messages amongst your networks.