In November 2020 Food Ministers considered a paper prepared by the (then) Australian Government Department of Health on commercial foods for infants and young children. The paper examined the composition and availability of commercially available foods aimed at infants and toddlers. Ministers agreed to refer this matter to FRSC for further consideration and to determine what actions could be explored in the Food Regulation System to improve commercial foods for infants and toddlers.
Background paper: Commercial foods for infants and young children
This paper examines the composition and availability of commercially available foods aimed at infants and young children in Australia. Key findings highlight that commercially available products in supermarkets are playing to instinctive preferences for a sweet flavour profile and setting lifelong preferences for sweet foods which is known to be associated with negative health conditions. Large serving sizes may also be driving overconsumption of foods, and packaging foods in pouches could be hindering the physical and cognitive development expected from transitioning to solid foods. Addressing these issues has the potential to translate into long term health outcomes for future generations.
This paper was prepared and finalised in 2020 and was based on evidence available at the time of writing.
Issues paper: Commercial foods for infants and young children
Following the 2020 Food Ministers’ request, FRSC has developed an issues paper to consider the current evidence, identify issues and define the problem that the Food Regulation System can address.
In December 2023 Food Ministers considered this Issues Paper and Statement of the Problem, prepared by FRSC on commercial foods for infants and young children.
The issues paper summarises the current environment relating to infant and early childhood nutrition in Australia and New Zealand including examining commercially available foods for children aged up to 4 years.
Key findings highlight that commercial foods aimed at infants and young children are frequently used by Australian and New Zealand parents, with many parents believing them to be a healthy choice. Evidence suggests that infant and young children’s diets do not align with aspects of Australian and New Zealand infant and young child feeding guidelines. Many commercial foods are high in sugar (infant and young children’s foods), sodium (young children’s foods) and don’t provide key nutrients for these age groups. Evidence also suggests that current labelling does not support carers to make informed choices.
Food Ministers have asked FRSC to progress this work as a priority. A consultation paper is being developed for Food Ministers’ consideration in the first quarter of 2024. The paper will outline the problem statement and potential options to address the problem, to seek stakeholders’ views on options to improve commercial foods for infants and young children.