Baby foods 'high in sugar and starch'

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The Independent Online

Shop-bought baby foods can contain high levels of sugar and starch and some carry misleading labels, the Consumers' Association warned today.

Shop-bought baby foods can contain high levels of sugar and starch and some carry misleading labels, the Consumers' Association warned today.

The association's magazine, Which?, checked 420 baby foods, comparing jars, chilled and dried foods by leading manufacturers. Nearly 40 per cent of all foods contained sugar or fruit juice and 60 per cent of breakfast cereals contained added sugars, it found.

A further 40 per cent contained starch additives, which can stop food separating - but because they absorb water, some critics feel they are used to bulk out the food. In addition, six savoury meals were found to contain glucose syrup, a form of sugar.

Some products carried meaningless phrases, such as "specially formulated" and "wholesome ingredients", on the labels.

Government health guidelines recommend that baby food should usually be free from, or low in, sugars, including those from fruit juice.

Which? highlighted the Baby Organix and Simply Organic Baby Food from the Original Fresh Babyfood Company as not containing any starches or sugars.

But breakfasts by leading brands such as Farley's and Milupa were sweetened with added sugar, while dried meals by Sainsbury's and Boots contained starches.

Graham Jacobs, the editor of Which?, said: "Bought baby foods are convenient and easy to use, but should be part of a mixed weaning diet that includes home-made foods. In our comparison of brands we found a lot of added sugars and starches. Check ingredients carefully to see exactly what you're getting - our results show it's clearly worth comparing brands and ranges."

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