VEGA News Item

Next Best for Veggie Babies and Toddlers - 15/12/2004
We advise on the labelling and presentation of infant formulae and follow-on foods for the offspring of mothers unable to breast-feed and whose parents wish, for a variety of ethical reasons, to resort to alternatives containing no animal products or derivatives.

Our comments follow:

1. Pesticides ect (Annex 8, Table 1 and Annex 9). The lists, to which methyl bromide should be added, are limited to compounds used for arable and horticultural crops. Residues also arise in products of animal origin, e.g. nicarbazin and nitrofurans (the Veterinary Medicines Directive would be a good source of information on this matter).

2. Labelling of infant formulae and statement for use in a diet influenced by specific aversions (Annex 4, paragraph 26 and Annex E, paragraph 1 and 2). We welcome the inclusion of this item. It needs great care in wording to avert misinformation and misinterpretation and creation of untoward suspicion. Customers with specific learning are likely to scrutinize labels with above average attention and reaction, with possible harm to the baby. The advice on breast-feeding should promote continuance for longer than normal and recommend close supervision by a well qualified adviser (so that reservations, e.g. over the high contents of soya, can be monitored).

2.1 A vegetarian version should satisfy nearly all the requirements of the special groups because it would exclude all animal –derived products. It would thus accommodate Jews, Muslims, people with aversions to dairy produce and those demanding diets described as vegan or vegetarian. They could also qualify for acquisition of the Beth Din mark denoting constant supervision of the manufacturing process.

2.2 More than “quid” labelling would be needed to allay doubts and possibly harmful extra restrictions, ingredients requiring special assurances would include, on an animal –mineral-vegetable basis these following obvious examples (some of the words being parts of compound names indicators of chirality, e.g. D-, L-, DL- ect, should be consistently applied).

vitamin D (D2 or D3, or ergocalciferol or cholecalciferol)

2.3 Citric acid and citrates, as well as other products of fermentation, e.g. riboflavin, vitamin B2, and other B vitamins may trip avoidable refusals based on attitudes to products from GM practices.

2.4 Suitably labelled and monitored formulae in this category should qualify for all the grants and favor accorded to the normal range of infant formulas.

2.5 It is likely that parents following macrobiotic regiments would resort to such products for their babies if breast-feeding failed or faltered. They may also be useful compromises in abating the tragic strife with parents (usually attracting a vegan designation0 who seem to transfer anorexic rituals to their offspring (so-called Munchhausen by proxy).

2.6 Banks of human milks are being held in more centres in the UK, especially for pre-term babies. It seems that parents accept their services for the babies regardless of the source of the milk. Further, milks for designated babies may also be consumed with benefit by mothers uncertain of breast-milk they are serving their offspring.

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