Jars of Baby Food Very Low in Micro-Nutrients, UK Study Suggests

April 16th, 2012 by

There’s been lots of talk lately about the unhealthiness of convenience foods and snacks for kids laden with sugars and fat.  Although we may not think of jarred baby food as snacks, they certainly can be convenient.  A new study found, however, that jarred baby foods don’t measure up either, only it’s not about what they have but rather what they lack.

New UK research from the University of Greenwich, School of Science, reveals that ready-made jars of baby meals contained less than a fifth of the recommended daily supply of calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and other minerals.

Researchers pulled 8 different sample jars produced by popular brands right off the shelves of leading supermarkets and examined their micronutrient content.  Micronutrients refer vitamins and minerals; as opposed to macronutrients which include fat, protein and carbohydrates- where most previous studies have been focused.  The micronutrient content was determined via Inductivity Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectrometer, commonly used to examine elements in food.

The research samples included 4 meat and 4 vegetable varieties, one including pasta, but manufacturer brand names remained anonymous. The study revealed that babies given one meat jar and one vegetable jar in addition to 600ml of formula milk would not be getting adequate calcium, magnesium, selenium, or copper.  The levels were 20% lower than the recommended amount on average.

Researchers conclude that the complementary baby foods, when coupled with a baby’s daily milk supply, do not meet the recommended amounts and suspect could explain why manufacturers do not list micronutrient content on jarred baby foods. The study authors also emphasize the importance of weaning a baby at 6 months with a healthy balance of foods and breast milk or formula and suggest the regulations governing jarred baby foods become tighter.  This study also points to yet another added benefit of making your own baby food.

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