1 in 4 French child food products “should be avoided”

A quarter of the food and drink products marketed at children and sold in France should be avoided, and even banned, according to a new study.

One in four of the “child friendly” products in the study were found to contain too much saturated fat, and too many additives or processed ingredients to be healthy, according to a new report from LaNutrition.fr.

The report analysed 800 food products, all of which are aimed at children aged 0-16 years old, and found that 234 of them were “bad, to the point that they should be banned”, as reported by French news source Le Figaro and on LaNutrition's own website.

These products were found to be “ultra-processed”, and contained additives, harmful fats, glucose syrup as a main ingredient, gratuitously-added sugar, extracts of ingredients instead of the whole ingredient (such as milk or eggs), too much water, and too much salt.

Some of the products were also found to contain cosmetic and economic agents (known in French as agents cosmétiques et économiques (ACE)).

These comprise 338 additives, colourings and flavourings, which are legal in Europe, but which still serve to “trick” the consumer with changes in the texture, appearance, colour, smell or taste of the food.

The products were found across all sections of a typical supermarket, and affected large brands and organic options alike.

One children’s meal marketed as a ‘fondue of courgettes and little macaronis’ had courgettes and pasta in less than half of the product. The rest was found to be a flavoured mixture of water, potato, milk, and processed flour.

A chocolate spread was found to contain elevated levels of sugar, oil and powdered milk, with biscuits made with potato tapioca starch, and glucose and fructose syrup.

A well-known cake brand product contained flour, sugar, and palm oil, as well as glucose and fructose syrup, powdered chocolate, powdered lactose, and a cocktail of emulsifiers.

Similarly, a yoghurt marketed as healthy contained thickeners, colourings, and phosphates.

In contrast, some brands were commended as having done well, with low numbers of additives and a good amount of pure fruits and vegetables.

One example was the Good Goût “Panais epinards et saumon” baby food pouch, which was found to contain a very high vegetable content, 8% real salmon content, and real lemon juice.

The Herta Bon Paris ham was commended for its lack of nitrates, while a pizza under the brand Alice Bio was found to be made with a very simple recipe, and contained no additives whatsoever.

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