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Baby food labels to be changed

Labels on baby food in Australia and New Zealand could be changed to ensure products are not given to infants younger than six months.

Current packaging on baby food states it is suitable for children over four months but trans-Tasman food regulator Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has said that this is inconsistent with health guidelines.

The regulator said there was also evidence that introducing solids earlier limited a baby’s supply of vital breast milk and potentially harmed the kidneys.

“Human breast milk and infant formula have a potential renal solute load that is suitable for the developing kidney, whereas most solid foods have a higher load, potentially increasing the risk of dehydration,” a FSANZ report states.

The regulator says between the ages of four to six months, human breast milk or infant formula was generally considered sufficient to meet the iron and zinc needs of infants.

“FSANZ is proposing that the minimum age permitted for labelling of infant foods be amended to ‘around six months’ to provide consistency with the infant feeding guidelines,” it said.

“We invite comment from health professionals, consumers, government and the food industry.”

Submissions about the proposal close on September 17.

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