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The labels that we find in the baby food they contain tremendously interesting information that can help us decide whether or not we want to incorporate it into our little one's diet and how to do it. Today we want to help you interpret baby food labels so you know what you are giving your child.
There is a regulation that protects consumer law to obtain truthful and easy to read and interpret information regarding the origin, ingredients or nutritional value of the product in question. The regulation, which dates back to 2011, underwent small modifications in 2016 to make it even clearer: the size of the font and the relevance of allergens, which should be highlighted over the rest of the ingredients (normally underlining or in bold).
With this new legislation, these are the concepts that must appear in the baby food labels:
- Among other things, we can see the ingredients, which must be listed by order according to the quantity in the product, that is, from highest to lowestThe most abundant being the first on the list.
- In this list, the most common allergens should be highlighted, which include gluten, peanuts and other nuts, soy, fish and shellfish, milk or eggs, for example.
- In addition, there may be a small clarification later in the event that the factory produces products with these allergens to warn of the possible existence of traces in the final product.
- Depending on what type of food we analyze, the origin can also be read. For example, it is mandatory in the case of honey, meat - regardless of the animal -, fish, fruits and / or vegetables.
The consumer must be provided with data on the energy value, both in Kilocalories and Kilojoules, the amount of total fat and saturated fat, the amount of carbohydrates and the part that represents simple sugars, the amount of protein and that of salt, all of them expressed in grams.
Additionally, within the nutritional information We found two columns of data, one that indicates the amount of each nutrient per 100g or ml of product and another that indicates what percentage of the recommended daily amount (RDA) of that nutrient we cover by consuming 100g of product. It should be clarified that these data are the CDRs of an adult, not a child, and we must bear in mind that they are not the same.
This information is not mandatory, nor is the information regarding the recommended portion of that food. This clarification is very useful because it allows us to know at a glance how many servings do we get from a package and what amounts of nutrients we contribute with it. For example, if it is a pasta package and the recommended portion –for an adult normally- is 75g, from the 500g package we can obtain approximately 6 servings and we can see how much nutrients we provide with their intake.
In calorie question, We could say that a product is of low caloric value if it contributes less than 40Kcal per 100g of product or less than 20Kcal per 100ml if it is liquid.
Regarding fat, it would be convenient to choose that product in which the amount of fat, and specifically that of saturated fat, is lower, and in terms of carbohydrates, the one that contains less simple sugars.
Neither carbohydrates nor fats are in themselves harmful to health, but we must emphasize simple sugars and saturated / trans fats. The WHO recommends that no more than 5% simple sugars be included in the diet, and this sugar is not only the visible sugar - the one we add to milk or coffee - but also the one included in fruit, juices and any type of cookie, pastries or breakfast cereals.
Checking the list of ingredients we can also get an idea of how healthy a food can be.
If sugar is among the first places, perhaps we should keep looking and avoid offering that product to our children. It can be very helpful to compare the ingredient lists of two similar products to help us decide.
Unfortunately, sugar can appear under many names, which can sow doubts in the consumer. Ingredients such as syrups, syrup, syrup, honey, molasses, or caramel may be more obvious, but others such as sucrose, fructose, lactose, maltose, dextrose, galactose, or maltodextrins, can cause confusion. Also, some products list it as nectar or fruit juice, having the same meaning: simple sugars to avoid.
Special mention should be made of products "without added sugar", since we can trust ourselves and think that they do not contain simple sugars when it is not true. No sugar is added to these products, true, but all those that the ingredients naturally contain will still be present.
As for fats, we must read the ingredients with caution. If the list indicates hydrogenated vegetable oil, partially hydrogenated fats or vegetable stabilizers, we can be sure that the product contains trans fats and we should avoid them.
Vegetable oils must be specified in parentheses, since an olive oil is not the same, with a lipid profile headed by oleic acid, of which we know its benefits as an unsaturated fat, than a coconut oil, whose profile highlights the saturated fat, and we should avoid it.
Thus, we must take into account not only the nutritional information about the fats but the ingredient these fats come from before choosing a food for our little ones.
If we examine proteins, we can consider that a food is a source of protein for our children if the protein intake exceeds 12% of the total energy, but obviously, we must resort to the list of ingredients to analyze the origin of these proteins.
Also, many foods of animal origin, such as meat derivatives or fish derivatives (cold cuts, nuggets, fish sticks ...), contain a small amount -as a percentage- of animal product, and in this case we must choose the one whose percentage is higher.
The problem with salt does not lie in the salt that we add when cooking or seasoning food, but in the added salt that many everyday products contain. To facilitate its identification, the new legislation requires that the amount of salt contained in the food be listed and not the amount of sodium.
During childhood, we must try to avoid including salt as much as possible in the diet of our children, so when choosing a product, we must pay close attention to its salt content.
Learn to interpret baby food labels allows us to distance ourselves from advertising and handle the information - true and real - necessary to make our own decisions when it comes to including or not a food or a product in the diet of our children.
You can read more articles similar to How to interpret baby food labels, in the Infant Nutrition On-Site category.