The nutritional content of baby food made by HJ Heinz and Cow & Gate has come under fire from a children’s health charity in the UK.

Research from the Children’s Food Campaign has claimed certain foods for babies and young children on sale in the UK are of “poor nutritional quality”.

The study of over 100 foods said Farley’s Original Rusks, which is owned by Heinz, contained more sugar than McVitie’s dark chocolate digestives.

The charity also claimed that Cow & Gate Baby Balance Bear Biscuits contained trans fats and failed to meet labelling requirements.

Children’s Food Campaign joint-coordinator Christine Haigh said the study had thrown up some “staggering” results.

“Many foods marketed for babies and young children are often advertised as “healthy”. In reality, in terms of sugar and saturated fat content, some are worse than junk food,” Haigh said. “In particular, failing to correctly label products that contain dangerous trans fats is outrageous.”

Heinz said Farley’s Rusks are “enriched with vitmains and minerals” and are “an ideal weaning food” for babies over four months.

“They mix easily with breast milk, baby milk or cooled boiled water into a smooth creamy consistency which can be adjusted to suit babies’ tastes,” the company told just-food. “A range of reduced sugar rusks providing 30 per cent less sugar than Farley’s Original Rusks is also available.”

Heinz also hit out at the Children’s Food Campaign for comparing a second product to a hamburger from McDonald’s.

“Our [Heinz Toddler’s Own] mini cheese biscuits come in a 25g portion size which contains only 1.8g saturated fat per serving, due to the inclusion of cheese in the product,” Heinz said.

“It is quite misleading to compare our product with a McDonalds quarter pounder with cheese is consumed in a portion size of 194g, containing a total of 13g saturated fat per serving.”

For its part, Cow & Gate revealed that, after discussions with the Food Standards Agency, it had decided to pull its baby biscuits.

“We have already taken the decision to discontinue our baby biscuits, when we became aware of presence of hydrogenated fat, which contains a very small amount of trans-fats,” Cow & Gate said.

The firm added that only four of the baby foods tested by the charity contained sugar above 15%.

“Three of these are biscuits, which require sugar in the recipe and contain 18% total sugars.  This is less than most comparable adult varieties and other baby biscuits,” Cow & Gate insisted. “One product tested is a 100% fruit puree which contains no added sugar, only the sugars naturally present in fruit.”

More to come….