Gerber Statement - Sodium Levels

For 85 years, Gerber has been helping parents raise happy, healthy infants and toddlers. We take pride in using a science-based approach to understanding babies and toddlers eating patterns, providing nutritious products for young children -- and the resources parents need -- to encourage healthy eating habits early.
 
We commend efforts to address high levels of sodium consumption among young children. We additionally support ongoing efforts to develop dietary guidelines for children under 4 years of age, including the establishment of a daily value of sodium that could be used in the labeling of foods for young children.
 
As it relates to sodium levels in Gerber products, we use an internationally recognized dietary standard for sodium* for young children to guide our recipe development. Gerber baby and toddler products can easily be incorporated into a healthy diet that meets the recommendations of the American Heart Association and American Pediatric Association for daily sodium intake for children aged 1-3, which is <1,500 mg.
 
The Nestlé Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS), the largest dietary intake survey conducted in young children, found almost 50 percent of children aged 12 – 23 months, and more than 75 percent of children aged 24 – 47 months, exceed the American Heart Association and American Pediatric Association’s recommendations for sodium intake. Additionally, the study revealed that the top contributors of sodium in young children’s diets are salt and seasonings, which were found in home and commercially prepared dishes and snacks, as well as cheese, bread, milk and processed meats.
 
Gerber has been proactively reducing sodium levels in our toddler meal options while maintaining the great taste that mothers and young children expect. In 2011, we reduced sodium levels in some toddler products by as much as 30 percent. We are continuing these reduction efforts and by the spring of 2013, 80 percent of our toddler meal products will have been reformulated to have less sodium. In addition to modifying our recipes, we offer parents our Start Healthy Stay Healthy™ Menu Planner tool that provides a week’s worth of menus that are consistent with dietary recommendations, including those for sodium. 
 
*Codex Alimentarius
 
FAQ: Gerber’s Proactive Efforts to Reduce Salt & Sodium
 
An AHA study found toddler foods are high in sodium. Are Gerber products unhealthy for children?
No. GERBER products are designed to be nutritionally and developmentally appropriate for infants and young children.  All our products can fit in a healthy diet that meets sodium recommendations for children. 
 
Our Start Healthy Stay Healthy™ Menu Planner is available to help guide parents in preparing menus that meet dietary recommendations including the American Heart Association and American Pediatric Association’s recommendations for daily sodium intake for children.
 
What Gerber products exceed the amount of sodium suggested in the study?
We cannot speculate on the sodium level suggested in the study, because it is not a recognized guideline and the researcher has not published the findings.
 
Consumers should rest assured that all Gerber products can fit within the context of a healthy diet that meets sodium recommendations for children.
 
Additionally, Gerber has been proactively reducing sodium in our toddler meal options for several years. By the spring of 2013, 80 percent of our toddler meal products will have been reformulated to have less sodium.
 
Do you add salt to your products?
In certain products, such as our infant fruit and vegetable purees, we do not add salt. It is important to note that sodium occurs naturally in many healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables and is present in most dairy food such as milk, yogurt and cheese. For other foods, including some GERBER GRADUATES products, salt may be added to enhance the flavor of foods.
 
Taste is an important attribute of our products.  If foods do not taste good, then they will not be consumed and children will not benefit from the nutritional value of our foods. It is important to consider the total nutrition of a product and sodium levels should be considered relative to the other nutrients including in the product.
 
Why is there sodium in Gerber products?
It is important to understand that sodium is a nutrient that is required in a small amount by young children to regulate basic cell level functions. Salt also enhances the taste and texture of some foods and can act as a natural preservative.
 
When it comes to sodium, it is important to consider total daily intake and not just the level in a particular food.  We encourage parents to monitor their child’s sodium intake and not exceed AHA and AAP recommendation of less than 1,500 mg daily. Our Start Healthy Stay Healthy menu planner also helps parents provide menus that meet this recommendation.
 
What is Gerber doing to reduce sodium in your toddler meals?
For several years, we have been proactively reducing sodium levels in our toddler meal options while maintaining the great taste that mothers and young children expect.
 
In 2011, we reduced sodium levels in some toddler products by as much as 30 percent.  We are continuing these efforts, and by the spring of 2013, 80 percent of our toddler meal options will have been reformulated to have less sodium.
 
In addition to modifying our recipes, we offer parents our Start Healthy Stay Healthy™ Menu Planner tool that provides a week’s worth of menus that are consistent with dietary recommendations for young children, including those for sodium.
 
Specifically, which products are being reformulated to reduce sodium levels?
There are three GERBER GRADUATES products which are being reformulated to provide reduced sodium levels.
  • GRADUATES LIL' ENTREÉS Macaroni & Cheese with Peas & Carrots.
  • GRADUATES LIL' ENTREÉS Mashed Potatoes & Gravy with Roasted Chicken and Carrots.
  • GRADUATES LIL' ENTREÉS Pasta Stars in Meat Sauce with Green Beans.
 
So, why do your snacks have more than 210 mg per container?
Our snacks come in multi-serving containers.  The recommended serving sizes for our snacks do not exceed dietary recommendations. Of course, we encourage moms to be mindful of the products portion size.
 
Will high sodium meals hurt a toddler?
When it comes to sodium, it is important to manage total daily intake. We encourage parents to balance higher sodium with lower sodium foods throughout the day.  Offering plenty of fruits and vegetables is one way to do this.
 
It is important to establish healthy eating habits early in life, including managing sodium intake.
 
If Gerber products are safe, why are you reducing sodium?
While Gerber products already fit within the context of a healthy diet that meets sodium recommendations, we are always looking to enhance our products.  It is part of our commitment to help provide the best nutrition for young children.
 
Additionally, our Nestlé Feeding Infants & Toddler Study (FITS), the largest dietary intake survey conducted in young children, found almost 50 percent of children ages 12 – 23 months, and more than 75 percent of children aged 24 – 47 months, exceed the American Heart Association and American Pediatric Association’s recommendations for sodium  intake  for young children. As a trusted partner to parents, we are continually seeking to innovate product solutions, such as delicious meals with lower sodium.
 
How much sodium is appropriate in a healthy toddler diet?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association, the suggested intake of sodium for children ages 1-3 years is less than 1,500 milligrams daily. All Gerber products are designed to fit within this daily recommendation.
 
What is the CODEX Alimentarius standard for sodium?
The CODEX Alimentarius is a set of internationally recognized food standards, guidelines and codes of practice regarding foods, food production and food safety.  CODEX Alimentarius is the set of standards accepted by the United Nations and World Health Organization. According to international nutrition guidance (CODEX Alimentarius), acceptable levels of sodium for toddlers are 200mg of sodium for 100 grams of food product.  
 
Do you support the development of a lower sodium standard in the US for meals, such as 210 mg?
We support ongoing efforts to develop dietary guidelines for children under 4 years of age, including the establishment of a daily value of sodium that could be used in the labeling of foods for young children.
 
We support a daily intake value for sodium rather than a per meal threshold, because we believe that it is total intake and overall dietary balance is what matters most.
 
Do we advertise to children?
No, Gerber does not advertise to children.
 
Do your toddler snack products contain a lot of salt?
All Gerber toddler snacks can fit into a healthy daily diet that meets the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association daily recommendations for sodium.  Our products are designed to be nutritionally and developmentally appropriate for young children.  Our Start Healthy Stay Healthy menu planner, which parents can find on our website Gerber.com, encourages parents to balance higher sodium with lower sodium foods throughout the day.