by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Kids’ diets

Mar 9 2021

More on toxic metals in baby foods: FDA on the job!

Early in February I wrote about heavy metal toxins in baby foods.  A report, Baby Foods Are Tainted with Dangerous Levels of Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury, revealed:

  • Arsenic, led, cadmium, and mercury are present in commercial baby foods at levels much higher than considered safe.
  • Their sources: foods raised on contaminated soil and water, and vitamin/mineral pre-mixes.
  • Baby food companies set their own safety standards for toxic metals.
  • The FDA knows baby foods have high levels of toxic metals but isn’t doing anything about it.
  • Some baby food companies refused to share data on this topic.

Politico has been following this story.  It reports:

In response to the “Tainted” report, the FDA now says it will set standards.

The FDA wrote baby food manufacturers to shape up.  The FDA, it says,

 is taking this opportunity to remind all baby and toddler food manufacturers and processors covered by the preventive control provisions of the rule Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food…of your responsibility under the rulemaking to consider chemical hazards that may be present in foods when conducting your hazard analysis….FDA takes exposure to toxic elements in the food supply extremely seriously, especially when it comes to protecting the health and safety of the youngest and most vulnerable in the population.

And the FDA issued a statement to the food industry. 

Toxic elements are in the environment, and therefore in the food supply. The levels of arsenic, lead, mercury, and cadmium in certain foods depends on many factors, including: growing conditions; manufacturing and agricultural processes; past or current environmental contamination; and the genetic capacity of food crops to take up elements. We share the public’s concerns for the health of America’s children, and want to reassure parents and caregivers that at the levels we have found through our testing, children are not at an immediate health risk from exposure to toxic elements in foods. The FDA routinely monitors levels of toxic elements in food, and if we find that they pose a health risk, the FDA takes steps to remove those foods from the market.

Research has shown that reducing exposure to toxic elements is important to minimizing any potential long-term effects on the developing brains of infants and children. As such, this issue is among FDA’s highest priorities and we are actively working to make progress on identifying and implementing impactful solutions to make foods commonly consumed by infants and young children safer.

In the meantime, here’s what Beech Nut says on its website.

Toxic heavy metals are not good for babies’ health.  Baby food companies need to do much better in getting rid of these things if they want anyone to keep buying their products.

What to do in the meantime?  Feed kids small amounts of as wide a variety of foods as possible.  That’s good advice anyway.

Dec 16 2020

Holiday gift idea—for kids: Chop Chop Eatable Alphabet

Chop Chop Family’s website teaches kids to cook.  It publishes Chop Chop magazine.  And it has just produced the Eatable Alphabet.

This is a box of stiff cards from A to Z, aimed at teaching kids ages 2-6 to cook up a storm.

For fun, I picked the letter M: Mushroom, or seta in Spanish.

Flip the card over, and you get a cooking lesson:

  1. Count out 4 mushrooms.  Slice teh mushrooms and put them in a bowl.
  2. Add 1/2 teaspoon vinegar, 1 teaspoon oil, and pinch of salt.
  3. Mix well and enjoy!

The cards also suggest activities.  E for Egg (huevo), for example, suggests:

Move.

Sit on the floor and hug your knees to your chest.  Roll around on teh ground like an egg rolls around on a table.

Have a kid of age 2-6 in your family or pod?  These will keep them busy for hours.

I can’t think of a better holiday gift.  And for older kids, check out the magazine.  It’s good too.

ADDITION:  If you are looking for items for kids, Food Tank lists 26 books about food to Nourish Kids’ Minds.

Feb 19 2020

Formula companies push “toddler milk”

Formula companies must be desperate for sales.  They are spending four times what they used to on advertising of “toddler milk,” formula ostensibly aimed at children who no longer need infant formula and are perfectly capable of eating real food.

So says a new study in the journal Public Health Nutrition.  The study comes from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, now at the University of Connecticut in Hartford, a group specializing in research to inform policy.

The report points out that increasing sales of toddler formula come at a time when pediatric authorities specifically recommend against feeding toddler milks to young children.

Why?  Because young kids do not need them and the milks contain unnecessary added sugars.

As the paper points out, “These findings also support the need to regulate marketing of toddler milks in countries that prohibit infant formula marketing to consumers.”

The advertising of toddler milks gets around those policies and should stop.  Right now.

Oct 25 2019

Weekend reading: Kid Food (!)

Bettina Elias Siegel.  Kid Food: The Challenge of Feeding Children in a Highly Processed World.  Oxford University Press, 2019.

Image result for siegel kid food

I did a blurb for this book but it is so good, so well written, and so important that nothing I can say can do it justice.

Everyone who cares about what kids eat must read Bettina Siegel’s fabulous Kid Food.  This is a gorgeously written, heartfelt, and deeply compelling manifesto arguing why and how we must do better at feeding our kids more healthfully at home, in schools, and on the soccer field.  Kid Food provides the evidence and the resources; it should inspire all of us to get busy and start advocating for better kid-food policies—right now.

The book is a treasure for what it says about feeding kids in America today—an instant classic.  Its Appendix alone makes the book a must-have: it lists resources for how to feed kids but also for how to advocate for them.

I could have picked excerpts from anywhere in the book but I’m taking the easy route and quoting from the book’s ending as an example of why this book is so worth reading.

Right now, American children are being shortchanged daily by a diet that feeds but doesn’t nourish, that staves off immediate hunger but opens the door to later disease.  The factors leading to this tragic outcome are all too human: naked corporate greed; parental ignorance, confusion, and fatigue; practical necessity, for those who can’t afford healthier food; and, in the case of “treats,” even simple love and affection.   Improving the current paradigm will require not just pushing back against powerful corporate interests, but also shifting a deeply entrenched food culture.  That’s a very heavy lift, but the difficulty of the task doesn’t make it any less urgent or critical.  And the good news is, there is no shortage of opportunities to pitch in.

Sep 27 2019

Weekend reading: Healthy drinks for kids

HealthyDrinksHealthyKids.org has issued recommendations on what kids should drink in collaboration with impressive co-signers:

  • The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Heart Association

The recommendations for parents vary by age.  For example, for infants up to age 6 months:

Only breast milk or infant formula (or water)

  • No juice
  • No milk
  • No flavored milks
  • No transition formulas
  • No plant-based milks
  • No caffeinated beverages
  • No diet drinks
  • No sugar-sweetened beverages

This is an important report.  About half of toddlers are given sugary beverages.  Let’s hope this is an incentive to stop this practice.

Here are the documents:

 

Oct 25 2018

Do kids need foods just for them? Hint: not after infancy

This is a collection of articles from the industry newsletter, FoodNavigator.com, about marketing foods to kids—kids’ food.

Really, kids would be much better off eating the healthy foods their parents eat.  They don’t need food aimed just at them.  Much of this is about selling products to busy parents.  Here’s how companies do it.

Sep 14 2017

FoodNavigator-USA’s Special Edition on Kids’ Food

Food Navigator is an industry newsletter useful for keeping up with food industry interests.  In Special Editions, it collects articles on specific topics, this on on food for kids.

Special Edition: Food for kids!

Almost a third of American children aged 10-17 are dealing with overweight or obesity, and many are lacking in essential nutrients from potassium, dietary fiber and calcium, to vitamin D. So how can the food industry respond to these concerns and develop more nutritious, but appealing snacks, meals and beverages for kids? We explore innovations targeting every life stage, from a new wave of baby food brands to Paleo meat sticks for tweens.

Feb 1 2017

Food marketing to kids: Heart & Stroke Canada says no!

Heart & Stroke Canada has a new report on food and beverage marketing to kids: The Kids Are Not Alright.

The press release says:

Our children and youth are bombarded with ads for unhealthy products all day, every day, influencing their food and beverage choices. This is having a devastating effect on their health and setting up conflict at home.

Marketing is big business and it is sophisticated…New research reveals that over 90% of food and beverage product ads viewed by kids and teens online are for unhealthy products, and collectively kids between the ages of two and 11 see 25 million food and beverage ads a year on their top 10 favourite websites.

It is time for this marketing storm to stop.

Its advice:

  • Eat healthy early, eat healthy often
  • Family food fights
  • Not your grandmother’s commercials
  • Industry self-regulation is a failure
  • Legislation means a fair fight for everyone

Lots to work with here.  Glad to have it.