Monday, June 9, 2008

Organic Baby Formula Update

I got this follow-up via email to a story we talked about a couple weeks ago on cane sugar in organic baby formula.


Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-3), chairwoman of the Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration Appropriations Subcommittee, urged the Food and Drug Administration to examine the long-term health and safety implications of sucrose-sweetened infant formulas in a letter to FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach. The inquiry stems from a New York Times report last month about a major brand of organic infant formula, which uses the much sweeter cane sugar, or sucrose.

“Sucrose is much sweeter than sugars used in other infant formulas, so there is an increased likelihood that babies will become accustomed to the sweeter taste and forsake solid foods. While there may not be any immediate health risks associated with the use of sucrose in infant formulas, the long-term health implications raises serious concerns over its continued use,” DeLauro writes in the letter. “The concerns outlined in the New York Times article would indicate that this issue deserves serious examination.”

Below is the text of the letter.

Dear Dr. von Eschenbach: (Food and Drug Administration Commissioner)

I am writing to express concern regarding a recent report in the New York Times about a major brand of organic infant formula that is sweetened with cane sugar, or sucrose. As you know, sucrose is much sweeter than sugars used in other infant formulas, so there is an increased likelihood that babies will become accustomed to the sweeter taste and forsake solid foods. While there may not be any immediate health risks associated with the use of sucrose in infant formulas, the long-term health implications raises serious concerns over its continued use.

As has been reported, sucrose can not only erode tooth enamel faster than other sugars, but some studies suggest that its inclusion in infant formulas also could result in excessive consumption and rapid weight gain in the first year. This is especially disturbing given recent findings by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that suggests that childhood obesity rates may have plateaued. I fear that the increased use of sucrose in infant formulas would diminish the minimal gains that are being made in the battle against childhood obesity.

Another troubling aspect of this situation is the organic labeling associated with the infant formula containing sucrose. While organic labeling is not under FDA jurisdiction, it is an important component of this issue since consumers purchase organic products because they believe it is healthier. This connotation is especially critical to parents who purchased the so-called organic infant formula containing sucrose mistakenly believing that they were providing a healthy food source to their babies. As Dr. Gary K. Beauchamp, Director of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, asserted in the New York Times article, “The entire enterprise of formula is the attempt to make it as close as possible to human milk. Making sweeter formula so that babies like it more seems to me contrary to the ethos of organic food, as a doctor and as a grandfather.”

The article also noted that the European Union’s Scientific Committee on Food found that sucrose provided no particular nutritional advantages, and might lead to excessive consumption. As a result of this finding, and the subsequent committee recommendation, the 27 countries of the European Union will be banning sucrose-sweetened infant formulas by the end of 2009.

The concerns outlined in the New York Times article would indicate that this issue deserves serious examination. If this is a problem that the FDA already is investigating, please let me know the status of the agency’s work If the FDA is not currently looking into this issue, I strongly urge you to begin examining this problem to determine the long-term health and safety implications of sucrose-sweetened infant formulas.

Thank you very much for your consideration of this matter. I look forward to receiving a prompt reply.

Sincerely,

ROSA L. DeLAURO
Chairwoman
House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration,
and Related Agencies


-NewsAnchorMom Jen


3 comments:

Shannon said...

This woman needs to taste breastmilk.

Seriously. Do you know how SWEET it is? This notion that introducing babies to sweet foods will somehow preclude them from wanting foods that aren't sweet is old, outdated, and so backwards-thinking I can't believe we're still hearing it.

Here's a thought: breastmilk is sweet. Breastmilk is the "intended" food for babies. Maybe there's a biological, evolutionary reason for the sweetness in breastmilk? It seems to me we should be more concerned about the formulas that aren't sweet because they clearly are not closely mimicking breastmilk.

I also find it very ironic that we're suddenly concerned about sucrose in infant formulas, but not in the artificial sweeteners used in so many others? Really?

Having said that, I give her credit for addressing this issue. Although I don't agree with all of her arguments or reasoning, there were a lot of legitimate concerns raised by that article and I hope they're able to resolve some of them. Maybe we should start with the way we allow the use of the word "organic" in our food labeling.

KivaJane said...

Things that are sweet aren't necessarily bad for babies. It's items that are artificially sweet, that contain added sugars.

http://www.health-risk-assessment.com Wellness Programs

Maria said...

"This connotation is especially critical to parents who purchased the so-called organic infant formula containing sucrose mistakenly believing that they were providing a healthy food source to their babies."

Um. Problem. Any parent who thinks that formula is a healthy food source hasn't done a whole lot of research. It is and always will be the second best option. Organic would be 2a at best. Breast is and always will be best. (OK, unless you have AIDS or another health problem.)

Breastmilk is sweet... I was curious and tasted some of my own. Quite tasty, yet my son eats just about everything. Sure, he loves fruit (sweet), but he also loves veggies.

Labeling is a serious problem, and if they are going to use a sweeter sweetner, they should use less of it.

 
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