New research published in the recent issue of the journal Food Chemistry suggests that the leading commercial brands of baby food may be seriously lacking in nutritional benefits, providing infants 20 percent or fewer of the total recommended daily intake of minerals and micronutrients.
The study was conducted by the UK's University of Greenwich School of Science and found that calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron were among the minerals absent or severely deficient in the commercial baby foods sampled. Samples were taken from four un-named, but popular, store brands of baby food and included samples of four meat and four vegetable varieties, one with pasta. On average, the meat-based samples contained just three percent of the recommended daily intake for calcium—a crucial nutrient for children. Vegetable samples contained only seven percent of the RDI on zinc and six percent on iron.
According to the study's lead researcher, Dr Nazanin Zand, even when added to the child's daily intake of formula or milk, these foods were not helping the children to meet the recommended intake for vital nutrients. And she suggested that it may correspond to the way these companies label their products. Zand says that manufacturers do not list the micronutrient content on packaging labels, perhaps to avoid the obvious hole in nutritional value.
For those parents that rely solely—or even largely—on store-bought brands of baby food, the researchers and health experts warn that the nutritional deficiencies could lead to developmental issues and health problems for their children.
The study is the latest blow to the processed baby food industry. A recent report found arsenic present in ingredients in some baby formulas.
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