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Baby Food Brands in Singapore: The Shocking Reality

Baby Food Brands in Singapore: The Shocking Reality

Baby food brands in Singapore all have one major thing in common. Be they organic baby food manufacturers or bog-standard baby-slop providers: they claim to care. Do they?

Last week, we put baby food under the microscope and found some pretty damning information about what’s really in bub’s favourite dish… but could it be true that the nation’s best baby food brands are full of nutritionless crap?

First, if you want to get the full lowdown on what you should be looking for when buying baby food, check out our guide to shocking facts about baby food every mama and dada should know before you read further.

As a quick reminder, when you’re seeking out the ideal baby food brands, here’s what a good jar of baby food (if one exists), should look like:

The ideal baby food?A jar of the ideal baby food

 

Just how much do baby food brands in Singapore really care? Should they be top of our list of people to thank for helping us to raise healthy, happy bubs? Let’s take a detailed look at some of the claims our favourite baby food providers are making to see if they really are living up to their promises.

Non-organic Baby Food Brands

Heinz Baby Food

Heinz Baby Food Heinz Claims: “You won’t find any artificial colours or preservatives in any Heinz baby food products. Our baby food is simply preserved by heating and sterile packaging. We also only use water to help in the cooking process – just like what you would do at home!”

Singapore Baby thinks: The cooking process must need a lot of help because water is the largest ingredient in a number of Heinz baby food products we looked at. As for the use of preservatives… just marketing spiel I’m afraid. Natural preservatives were used in many of the jars we examined, as too were flavourings. And do you use bulking agents at home?

Heinz Creamy Pasta and Tuna Mornay

Picture of heinz tuna mornay

 

Ingredients: Water, Vegetables (27%) [Carrots, Sweetcorn (5%), Onion, Pumpkin (4%), Celery, Red Capsicum (1.8%), Spinach], Full Cream Milk, Tuna (8%), Wheat Pasta (Contains Traces of Egg) (7%), Cornflour, Cheese, Onion Flavour, Spice.
Percentage of headline ingredient in product: Pasta (7%), tuna (8%).
Largest ingredient: Water
Bulking agents/fillers: Cornflour
Contains gluten: Yes
Contains flavourings: Yes, onion flavouring.
Added sugar: No
Preservatives: No

Interesting stuff: Despite being advertised as pasta and tuna, this product only actually contains 15% of the headline ingredients with the rest being mainly water and vegetables. Bear that in mind when you’re shelling out your hard-earned cash. Sadly, the largest ingredient in this jar is water. While water may be added for texture and consistency, it should not be the biggest ingredient, especially in foods for older infants. Furthermore, the protein content of the entire jar is just 6g, less than half of bub’s daily recommended protein intake. Parents who are fooled into thinking this is a complete meal will be way off the mark in terms of their little one’s nutritional needs.

Heinz 100% Natural Pumpkin, Potato and Beef

Heinz pumpkin potato and beef

 

Ingredients: Vegetables (61%) [(Pumpkin (50%), Potatoes (6%), Carrots)] Water, Beef (10%), Corn Semolina, Cornflour, Herb
Percentage of headline ingredient in product: Pumpkin (50%), Potato (6%), Beef (10%)
Largest ingredient: Pumpkin (50%)
Bulking agents/fillers: Corn semolina, cornflour
Contains gluten: No
Added sugar: No
Preservatives: No

Interesting stuff: Aside from the use of two types of bulking agents, this baby food represents one of the better choices. It contains at least 71% true ingredients and is, therefore, less watered down/bulked out than some of the alternatives that are available on the market.

Heinz Custard with Banana

Picture of Heinz custard with banana

 

Ingredients: Water, Full Cream Milk (25%), Sugar, Cornflour, Unsalted Butter, Banana Purée (1.5%), Cream, Natural Flavours. Sweetened
Percentage of headline ingredients in product: Full cream milk (25%), banana (1.9%)
Largest ingredient: Water 
Bulking agents/fillers: Cornflour 
Contains gluten: No 
Added sugar: Yes 
Preservatives: Yes 

Interesting stuff: This product contains only 1.9% banana and a whole heap of water. The label promises “no added colours or flavours” and “no preservatives”, yet the ingredients tell a very different story. Sugar is most certainly a form of preservative and if the natural banana flavour isn’t an added flavour what exactly is it? Natural banana flavour is also a major red flag because natural flavours are not as innocent as they sound. Natural flavours are still man-made and artificial flavourings that have undergone chemical processing. Typically, in the case of bananas, isoamyl acetate is used as the main chemical to produce the flavouring; so yep: the “natural banana flavouring” present in this Heinz product has been chemically treated… probably with isoamyl alcohol and acetic acid.

Gerber Baby Food

Gerber (Nestle) claim: “Made from 100% fruits and vegetables, GERBER 1st FOODS, 2nd FOODS and Juices do not contain any preservatives, artificial colours, flavours or sugars.”

Singapore Baby thinks: Many of Gerber’s products contain ascorbic acid and/or citric acid, both of which also happen to be powerful food preservatives. When used in foods, ascorbic acid is not natural because it is synthesized, and citric acids is a commodity chemical that is produced by either mycological fermentation or a solvent extraction process that uses synthetic petroleum. 

Gerber 2nd Foods Fruits – Bananas

Picture of gerber banana food

Ingredients: Fully Ripened Bananas (banana puree concentrate, water), Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)
Largest ingredient: Banana puree
Bulking agents/fillers: None 
Contains gluten: No 
Contains flavourings: No 
Added sugar: Hmmm. See “Interesting stuff.”
Preservatives: Yes. Ascorbic acid and citrus acid. 

Interesting stuff: Each 99g pot of this banana dish contains a whopping 18 grams of sugar (the equivalent of 5 teaspoons), 5 milligrams of sodium and less than 1 gram of fiber. What’s interesting about this, is that 100g of mashed up banana has just 12g of sugar (more than a teaspoon less), zero sodium and 3g of dietary fibre. If Gerber’s banana pot really is just 100% fruit, then why does it contain 18 grams of sugar? The answer lies in the use of banana puree concentrate: concentrated fruit juice, which, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture considers is a fancy term for added sugar. What you’re left with is a very sugary treat which contains far more sweetness than real whole fruit. You should also avoid this one if your child suffers from reflux or you just don’t want your child to consume too much acid. Also, people with kids who suffer from corn intolerance should take note that ascorbic acid is often synthesized from corn.

Gerber 2nd Foods Mixed Vegetables

 Gerber second foods mixed vegetable

Ingredients: Carrots, Water, Peas, Dried Potatoes
Largest ingredient: Carrots
Bulking agents/fillers: No

Contains flavourings: No

Added Sugar: No

Preservatives: Maybe

Interesting stuff: The problem you have here is that you have no idea what processing and treatment the dried potatoes have undergone. It’s highly likely that these potatoes contain some type of additive, and it is not uncommon for varieties of dried potato to contain ingredients that you really don’t want to be giving to your baby, including salt and preservatives.

 

Organic Baby Food Brands

Given the shocking state of many non-organic baby food brands, you’re probably thinking that organic baby food is worth shelling out for. According to our findings: yes (in Singapore at least). However, it is important to acknowledge that while organic ingredients may indeed be better for bub, organic baby food is typically still mass produced by many baby food brands and is heavily processed in the same way as non-organic baby foods; the only difference is that the ingredients have been grown/produced organically. That said, it’s important for mama and dada to recognise that all organic brands are not created equal, with some being much cleaner and truer to their promises than others… as you will see.

Happy Baby Organic Baby Food

Happy Baby claim: “Our hearty meals are made using wholesome, homemade recipes that are sure to delight your little one. Hearty meals have vegetables and hearty grains making them both complete and yummy!”

Singapore Baby thinks: The majority of the products offered under the ‘hearty meal’ range of this particular baby food brand are most certainly far from hearty and definitely not complete. If you were to feed your baby on a diet of these, his or her nutritional deficit would be significant.

Happy Baby Organic Super Salmon

Picture of Happy Baby organic super salmon

Percentage of headline ingredient in product: Unknown. However, “wild Alaskan Salmon” is listed as the forth largest ingredient.
Largest ingredient: Water, followed by apple puree.
Bulking agents/fillers: No
Contains gluten: No
Added sugar: No
Preservatives: Absorbic acid

Interesting stuff: While water may be added for texture and consistency, it should not be the primary ingredient, especially in foods for older infants. Even if your baby eats an entire pouch of this, he/she will get a mere 1g of protein (just 6% of the RDA for a 7+ month baby), o.5 grams of fat and 50 calories (what?!). Hardly a “hearty meal” as the package claims. The ascorbic acid is also not particularly healthy for bub, especially if your little one suffers from reflux or is corn intolerant.

Happy Baby Vegetable and Beef Medley

Picture of happy baby vegetable and beef pouch

Percentage of headline ingredient in product: Unknown. However, carrots are listed as the second largest ingredient followed by beef.
Largest ingredient: Water
Bulking agents/fillers: No
Contains gluten: No
Added sugar: No
Preservatives: No

Interesting stuff: Yet again this product from a very reputable baby food brand has a main ingredient of water and is devoid of the nutrition baby needs. While the ingredient list is relatively “clean”, the actually nutritional information tells us that this baby food is far from hearty. In fact, with just 2g protein (14% of the RDA for a 7+ month baby), you would need to feed you bub at least six of these in one day to meet his or her protein needs. 

Earth’s Best

Earth’s Best claim: “We create high quality, organic products grown by the some of the best farmers, filled with the best ingredients and tested for the highest level of purity and freshness.”

Singapore Baby thinks: The claim is fair enough. For an organic brand, there is a surprising lack of claims about the natural nature of the food. 

Earth’s Best Apple Sauce

Earth's best apple sauce

Ingredients: Apples, Vitamin C
Percentage of headline ingredient in product: Unknown, but the main ingredient is apple.
Largest ingredient: Apple
Bulking agents/fillers: None
Contains gluten: No
Contains flavourings: No
Added sugar: No
Preservatives: Yes. Vitamin C is dressed up ascorbic acid.

Interesting stuff: The biggest concern with this first food is that it contains vitamin C, or ascorbic acid. As well as being used as a food preservative, ascorbic acid is also used in many commercial industries. Debate as to whether this genetically modified product is safe for littlies rages on, but contrary to what baby the picture baby food manufacturers want you to believe,  it is a highly processed ingredient that is not natural. Furthermore, if your baby has any issues with corn, you should avoid this product, as ascorbic acid is usually derived from genetically modified corn. Unfortunately the manufacturers thought it fit not to tell parents that.

Ella’s Kitchen

Ella’s Kitchen claim: “Ellas have always prioritised health and nutritional value, but never at the expense of either taste or convenience.”

We found: Of the baby food brands that we took a look at, Ella’s Kitchen foods were those least likely to contain hidden nasties. If you have the luxury of choice: Ella’s is the way to go.

Ella’s Kitchen Stage 1: Carrots, Apples and Parsnips

Picture of ellas carrots apples and parsnips

 

Percentage of headline ingredient in product: Carrots (22%), apples (68%), parsnips (10%)
Largest ingredient: Apples
Bulking agents/fillers: None
Contains gluten: No
Added sugar: No
Preservatives: Yes “A dash of lemon juice concentrate.”

Interesting stuff: On the whole, this product is very “clean”. The only concern would be the use of lemon juice concentrate, which is basically a citric acid that will do bubs who suffer from reflux no good whatsoever. Furthermore, some pediatricians recommend waiting until baby is at least 1 year old before exposing him to her to citrus because the acidity can irritate fragile tummies. As such, the use of lemon juice concentrate in a stage-one baby food isn’t exactly desirable.

Heinz Organic

Heinz Organic Pumpkin and Ricotta with Spinach

Heinz pumpkin and ricotta

Ingredients: Vegetables (71%) [Pumpkin* (33%), Tomatoes*, Sweet Potato*, Onion*, Zucchini*, Sweetcorn*, Spinach* (0.5%)], Water, Wheat Pasta* (10%), Cornflour, Cheese (from Milk) [Ricotta (1.4%), Pecorino*].
Percentage of headline ingredient in product: Pumpkin 33%, Ricotta 1.4% and spinach 0.5%.
Largest ingredient: Vegetables (71%), of which 33% is pumpkin.
Bulking agents/fillers: Cornflour
Contains gluten: Yes
Added sugar: No
Preservatives: No

Interesting stuff: This product should actually be called Pumpkin and Bulking Ingredient, as it contains more cornflour than it does ricotta and spinach. This is mainly a vegetable dish with a small amount of added cheese. It is most certainly not a complete meal. Note also that this product is not 100% organic, the cornflour bulking is not organic, nor is the ricotta. Perhaps this is the difference between the “Heinz Organic” and “Only Organic” brands.

Only Organic Potato Pumpkin and Beef

Heinz only organic beef

Ingredients: Vegetables (Carrot, Pumpkin, (12%), Potato (11%), (Pea, Bean)*, Water, Beef (9%)*, Rice*, Tomato*.
Percentage of headline ingredient in product: Pumpkin 12%, Beef 9%
Largest ingredient: Carrot
Bulking agents/fillers: None
Contains gluten: No
Added sugar: No
Preservatives: No

Interesting stuff: This is a relatively good choice if you need some baby food on the go. It contains organic ingredients with no fillers or preservatives. However, the amount of beef in the jar is disappointing and you will need to bear in mind that a full serving of this will only provide 4g of protein, which is around 30% of your bub’s RDA. If you do feed your little one this, you will need to ensure you make the deficit up elsewhere with his or her other meals.

 

If you really want to be in control of what baby eats and don’t want to risk under nourishing them or, worse still, feeding them nasties and rubbish, you should prepare bub’s dishes yourself. Not only will you save yourself a ton of cash, you can be confident that you are giving your little ones the nutrition they need to grow healthy and strong while also avoiding any chemicals and processing that can potentially do long-term damage. Take time to search out the baby food brands that offer the nutrition your baby needs. As Heinz rightly points out:

“When you have a growing baby, what you feed them really influences how they develop”. 

Not got the first clue about what to feed your growing bundle? Check out our meal planner and nutrition checklist. Ditch the baby food brands altogether and do it yourself. It’s easier than you think. Check out our toddler recipe section for ideas.

Link to singapore baby subscribe pages

 

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6 Comments

  1. I read this and can’t believe I’ve only just come across it 5-6 months down the track.

    We have been feeding our 10 month old Little Angel’s Baby Food that you can get through Lula’s Cupboard (online store). If you are looking for a responsible baby food in Singapore that is it.

    Worth you doing a follow article as Lula’s Cupboard bring it in but are thinking of stopping because the take up in Singapore hasn’t been that great.

    Reply
  2. Hi,
    Thanks for sharing your inputs. What would be the baby food brands/products you would recommend in Singapore?

    My baby girl is gonna be 6 months in a weeks time and we are not sure which brand has the best quality ingredients and the least amount of fillers/preservatives. We had actually shortlisted Heinz but based on this article, we are a bit scared…

    Pls help.

    Thanks
    Anand

    Reply

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