Babies’ special physiology makes them more vulnerable to certain substances. “Digestive functions mature during the first year,” explains Catherine Bourron-Normand, dietician specializing in pediatrics. The colonic flora of the infant is immature, its transit is rapid. There is also an immaturity of bile salts and a deficiency in secretion of amylase intended to digest starch. The contaminants thus spread more quickly in the body of a child.
- A diet too rich in nitrates can lead to methemoglobinemia, characterized by insufficient oxygen in the blood.
- “What we can fear from pesticides, it is first and foremost an effect on psychomotor development, informs Dr. Robert Barouki, biochemist-toxicologist. Other effects are mentioned on puberty, fertility, weight … “
So what should be done to ensure that your children’s purees and compotes are as healthy as possible?
Baby food jars: what the regulations provide
Strict regulations govern the composition of the small pots. In force since 1976, it is an exception in European food law. “She demands that childhood foods be no preservatives, no dyes and no sweeteners », Specifies Magali Bocquet, Secretary General of the French Child Food Sector.
The tolerance limits to nitrates and pesticides are much more severe than for everyday consumer products: they are close to zero. “There are 10 times less nitrates and 500 times less pesticides. »Thus, the levels of pesticides must be less than 4 to 10 micrograms per kilo of food.
About the additives, “Only 53 are authorized against 400 in the current diet”, adds Magali Bocquet. There are mainly acidity correctors, baking powders (ammonium carbonates, potassium tartrates, etc.), natural flavors. In fact, the regulations require that any ingredient that goes into the composition of a compote, a puree, a small dish … is mentioned on the label.
In addition to the specific regulatory framework, the baby foods are subject to numerous controls. “Not less than 100 on raw materials, 5 on packaging materials, 50 on the product in production and 10 on the finished product” These procedures should therefore reassure parents whose main fear, for 57% of between them in general, and for 65% of those of children under 6 months in particular, is the presence of pesticides.
How to make the healthiest homemade meals possible for your baby
Qaund we make our own small dishes for our child, we avoid as much as possible the foods most at risk of containing pollutants.
- Among fruits and vegetables: The Environmental Working Group (EWG) published this year a list of foods most loaded with pesticides : strawberries, apples, nectarines, peaches, celery, grapes, cherries, spinach, tomatoes, peppers. To this list, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) adds lettuce regarding the nitrate content.
- Among the fish: the National Food Safety Agency (ANSES) advises against, for children under 30 months, the consumption of lamprey, swordfish, marlin … because of their heavy metal content, and not to exceed the dose of 150 g per week for Atlantic wolffish, bonito, pomegranate, sea bream, mullet, ray, tuna …
There is obviously no question of giving up homemade preparations, but it is necessary on the other hand to take certain precautions. We will follow with profit the advice of Catherine Bourron-Normand:
- “First, you have to choose fruits and vegetables that are free of stains, rotting, unpleasant or abnormal odors. Prefer organic products if possible.
- Next, check the origin on the packaging : the standards are stricter in Europe than in Asia, for example.
- Finally, wash fruits and vegetables well before peeling them through a colander so that they do not soak, and lukewarm water, which further dissolves the substances. Peel them well then wash them again in cold water. “