Many Australian toddlers are consuming their recommended daily salt intake in just one sitting, an examination of supermarket toddler meals has found. Salty foods accustom the tastebuds to salt and excess sodium intake from salt is linked to high blood pressure and increased risk of stroke and heart attacks in adulthood.
A range of prepared toddler meals investigated by nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton and advocacy group Parents’ Voice, have failed the Food Detectives’ test with products found to contain too much sodium for young children.
Dr Stanton questioned the use of added salt in Only Organic Vegetable Macaroni Cheese, Only Organic Beef Bolognese Pasta and Heinz Little Kids Ravioli Bolognaise.
“Latest health advice discourages parents from adding salt when they’re cooking at home for toddlers. Adding salt to products marketed to children is unwise and unnecessary.”
Dr Stanton was also concerned with the sodium content in foods marketed for toddlers such as Only Organic Vegetable Macaroni Cheese (273mg), Annabel Karmel Cheeky Chicken & Pumpkin Risotto (230mg) Heinz Little Kids Ravioli Bolognaise (220mg) and Annabel Karmel Beautiful Bolognese Pasta Bake (202mg) per serve
“The Nutrient Reference Value for sodium consumption for Australian children aged 1 to 3 years is 200-400mg per day. It would be hard for parents to keep their children’s sodium consumption to recommended levels if these types of products are consumed regularly.
“These meals are not difficult to prepare and could feature as regular family meals. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that by the age of 12 months, toddlers should be consuming a wide variety of nutritious food as enjoyed by the rest of the family. It is not a good idea to encourage parents/carers, or children themselves, to consume food that’s different to the family’s normal diet. This can result in the development of poor eating habits.”
Another concerning addition was the use of apple juice concentrate and apple juice in the Annabel Karmel meals examined. “These add sugar and accustom young palates to a sweeter taste, but won’t add any significant nutrient content,” Dr Stanton added.
Alice Pryor, Campaigns Manager for Parents’ Voice is concerned that the availability of these products, which are not healthier choices, will reinforce the message that toddlers need special food.
“Parents want to give their children the best start to life, and these products lead parents to believe they are healthy and nutritional meals for their children when many of them are actual laden with hidden salt and sugar. In particular, both Annabel Karmel meals proudly proclaim ‘low in sodium’ on the front of the pack, a claim we think is misleading.
“Most parents of toddlers would struggle to find time in the supermarket to read and compare the small print on the backs of these products. Parents’ Voice is calling on Only Organic, Heinz, and Annabel Karmel to reformulate these products and ensure that their marketing claims are more closely matched to the reality.”
Media contact: Alice Pryor 0416 219 261 firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editor
Alice is available for interview, Sunday 21 August at the Parents’ Voice stand at the Pregnancy, Baby and Children’s Expo in Melbourne.
Parents’ Voice is an online network of parents who are interested in improving the food and activity environments of Australian children. Formerly known as The Parents’ Jury, Parents’ Voice was formed in 2004 and represents thousands of Australian parents. Parents’ Voice is supported by Cancer Council Australia, Diabetes Victoria, VicHealth, YMCA Australia and the Bluearth Foundation.
Products were purchased at a Melbourne metro supermarket on 03/08/2016