The European group that represents manufacturers of milk products aimed at 1-3 year olds has welcomed last week’s European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) opinion, even though it essentially rejected toddler milks in favour of more regular foodstuffs.
Specialised Nutrition Europe (SNE) focused on the part of the opinion that dealt with infant and young child nutrient deficiencies and how toddler milks could play a role in ensuring healthier children across Europe.
“We welcome the recognition that young children have specific needs, and that they require more Vitamin D, iron, DHA and sometimes iodine,” said SNE president, Roger Clarke.
“While these nutritional requirements can be met with a balanced diet, we acknowledge, in accordance with the EFSA opinion, that the reality demonstrates that there are gaps in the ability of many families across Europe to meet these nutritional needs.”
Clarke said SNE members that include Danone and Nestlé were, “dedicated to delivering the highest quality nutrition for babies and toddlers.”
SNE added that it, “welcomed EFSA’s conclusion that fortified formulae, including young-child formulae, represents one way to increase essential nutrient intakes in infants and young children with inadequate or at risk of inadequate status of these nutrients.”
“Young-child formulae are specifically designed and manufactured to meet the specific needs of children aged one to three years as part of a mixed diet based on family foods.”
“No unique role…”
EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) found there was “no unique role” for toddler milks in the opinion that is the first of two it will produce at the behest of the European Commission, which is pondering legislative options for toddler’s milk.
The products exist in somewhat of a legal void between regular foods and infant formulas (0-6 months) and follow-on milks (6-12 months) that are regulated under the 2006 EU Directive on infant formulae and follow-on formulae.
“No unique role of young-child formulae with respect to the provision of critical nutrients in the diet of infants and young children living in Europe can be identified,” the NDA said, “so that they cannot be considered as a necessity to satisfy the nutritional requirements of young children when compared with other foods that may be included in the normal diet of young children (such as breast milk, infant formulae, follow-on formulae and cow’s milk).”
As highlighted by SNE, the NDA acknowledged that, “Fortified formulae, including young-child formula, are one way to increase such intakes” but the panel concluded, “…there are other efficient alternatives, such as fortified cow’s milk, fortified cereals and cereal-based foods, supplements or the early introduction of meat and fish into complementary feeding and the continued regular consumption of these foods."
EFSA's second opinion - due next year - will give guidance on ideal formula composition.
For more in-depth reporting of the NDA’s opinion, see Friday’s coverage on NutraIngredients.