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April newsletter 2018

New practical eating well resource
Eating well: snacks for 1-4 year olds

Eating well: snacks for 1-4 year olds

After what has been a rather long gestation, we have published this new resource which provides information and ideas on snacks for 1-4 year olds. We have provided information on snacks which are quick and easy and which are particularly suitable when out and about, and snacks that could be offered in early years settings.

The snacks support the guidance in the recently updated Voluntary food and drink guidelines for early years settings in England. Appropriate snacks are important for both meeting the nutritional needs of young children but also for protecting emerging and developing teeth. The resource is currently available as a free pdf download but some hard copies will be available in due course.

Letter to Danone Nutricia about ‘nutriprem’ advertising

At the beginning of March, 18 individuals and organisations who work to support appropriate infant feeding in the UK wrote to Caroline Winters, the Director of Public Affairs, and Danny Wilding the Public Affairs Manager at Danone Nutricia to ask them to withdraw an advert for premature baby formula which has appeared in the health professional literature this year.

You can read the full text of the letter here


We have now had a response from Danny Wilding and you can see this here.

If someone had written to us as an organisation to say that information we were providing was not based on good evidence and was misleading health professionals, I would have worked hard to re-examine what we had written and, if we thought we needed to, justify what we had said. It is surprising that a large multinational food company, with considerable resources, doesn’t feel that responding to justified concerns is necessary.

If you would like to contact Danone Nutricia
and ask for this advert to be withdrawn, or for a better explanation of how they justify the claims they are making, a word version of the letter can be accessed here.

Here on the website you will also find details of how to contact the editors of journals, regulators, professional associations and others that allow advertising for breastmilk substitutes with example letters. We have added Infant and British Journal of Midwifery to the list.

Who and How to contact

If you do write to anyone and express your concern then do let us know if you get a response.

Briefing on Danone Nutricia as a corporate partner

We have compiled a short briefing which outlines why, in our opinion, Danone Nutricia are not a good partner for organisations that work to support families and appropriate infant and young child feeding. We thought this might be a useful summary to share with organisations (or their communications departments) who may not be fully aware of some of the reasons that a breastmilk substitute company might want to partner with them. We hope it also provides some clarity about evaluations that have been done on company activities around the WHO Code. We have heard, for example, from organisations who believe Danone are ‘Code compliant’, and so it is useful to know how the Danone version of the Code differs from the WHO Code and resolutions that have been globally agreed.

Danone Nutricia briefing

Parliamentary Inquiry into the costs of infant formula and how this impacts family food budgets.

inquiryThe APPG on Infant Feeding and Inequalities will be conducting a short parliamentary inquiry to gather information on how the costs of infant formula may be impacting on family food budgets, how families decide which formula brand to buy and how marketing of products, or milks provided in NHS maternity wards, may influence product choice. This is not a research project, but a chance for those who work with families, or for families themselves, to report some of their experiences and thoughts. The aim is to build a picture to inform future work in this area and to highlight issues which may link to other policies. Links to the inquiry and response page will be widely disseminated in due course, so look out for tweets and emails tagged #APPGIFI_Inquiry.

We are grateful to all those organisations and individuals who have offered to support this work and will be in touch as soon as we have the mechanisms for data collection organised. We will be collating the data at First Steps Nutrition Trust and hope to report before parliament recesses for the summer.

Welfare Foods – a consultation on meeting the needs of children and families in Scotland.

At the beginning of April the Scottish Government put out a consultation paper to describe the changes they are proposing to the Healthy Start scheme, that is now devolved to Scotland. Among the proposals are:

  • To name the scheme ‘Best Start Foods’ and link it to the changes being proposed to the SureStart maternity grant which will be renamed the Best Start Grant

  • To increase the value of the weekly food voucher to £4.25

  • Align eligibility for Best Start foods with eligibility for free two year old childcare places and to increase the number of families eligible, but offer support only until a child’s 3rd birthday

  • For entitlement to begin as soon as a pregnancy is confirmed instead of from 10 weeks of pregnancy

  • An expanded range of foods to be included under the scheme including tinned fruit and vegetables, dried or tinned pulses and eggs

  • To manage the scheme with a new smartcard to reduce stigma and make purchasing items more flexible

Additional information is included on a phase two scheme to look at nursery milk and food provision in early years settings.

The consultation is requesting responses on a range of issues, including how children’s vitamins might be linked to the scheme (pregnant women are all eligible for free vitamins in Scotland).

You can read the consultation and respond to it (by the 28th of June) here:

We are delighted that this consultation is underway, and hope that these discussions will stimulate similar reviews in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Our report Healthy Start: What happened? and what next? is currently being edited and we will provide more information on when we will launch this in the next newsletter.


Definition of free sugars

Staff from Public Health England have published a paper explaining what are now counted as free sugars in foods and drinks, and you can access this here:

As we said in our 2017 report on Baby Foods in the UK the sugars that are found in commercial pureed fruit and vegetables foods are considered free sugars, as are the sugars from fruit and vegetable juices, pastes, smoothies, extruded and other processed products where the cell walls have been broken down. If dried fruit products have been extruded, or have been made from juice or purees, then the sugars in these products also count as free sugars.

This means that we need to take a new, careful look at the foods being marketed for infants and young children in the UK, since many of the snack foods and convenience foods marketed with a ‘health halo’ of pictures of fruits and vegetables may be little different to confectionery and soft drinks in their carbohydrate composition.

dried strawberriesYou might be surprised, for example, to know that most dried fruit based toddler snacks (often marketed for children 12 months and over, and many with 'no added sugar' and '1 of your 5 a day' on the label) are often 60-70% sugar. Pouches of pureed fruit or fruit and vegetable mixtures may have the equivalent of 3 teaspoons of sugar per pouch.

We believe that we need a review of compositional and labelling regulations for infant and young child foods in light of new clarity over which foods contain free sugars. We are supporting some work at WHO Europe to reflect on these issues and will report when any new information from this work is in the public domain.

End Hunger UK: A menu to End Hunger
We are pleased to be a supporting organisation for the End Hunger UK campaign which has made 9 suggestions on how we can end hunger in the UK.

You can download the report here:

end hunger uk

Save the date We are planning to hold our annual conference this year on Tuesday November 27th, and this will again be held in Kensington Town Hall in London.
We are pleased that this year we will be jointly hosting the conference with HENRY who are celebrating their 10th birthday in 2018. We will send out more details later in the year. Henry logo


First Steps Nutrition Trust offers information and resources to support good nutrition from pre-conception to 5 years. Our aim is to produce clear and independent resources to support people who want to know more about eating well before and during pregnancy, eating well for infants and young children, and food composition and food quality.

First Steps Nutrition Trust takes no industry funding and fully supports the WHO Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent World Health Assembly Resolutions. We are funded through grants and donations. We aim to provide a one-stop shop for useful and accurate evidence-based information on good nutrition from pre-conception to five years. To find out more about the Trust, follow the link to About Us.

First Steps mother and baby

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First Step Nutrition Trust's newsletter is published regularly to promote information and awareness of the importance of good nutrition from pre-conception to 5 years and to highlight the work of the Trust.
Registered Charity No: 1146408