Gerber gets ‘Salt Lick’ award
TORONTO( CP) — Gerber, one of the best-known names in baby food, has been named this year’s recipient of the “Salt Lick Award” due to the high sodium content in one of its prepared meals for toddlers.
The Canadian Stroke Network and the Advanced Foods & Materials Network chose Gerber Graduates Lil’ Entrees because the product line’s Chicken & Pasta Wheel Pickups dinner contains 550 mg of sodium — more than half a toddler’s adequate daily intake of 1,000 mg.
The organizations say the amount of sodium in the prepared food is equivalent to that contained in two medium orders of McDonald’s french fries. McDonald’s Canada website says a medium order of fries contains 270 mg of sodium.
Yet labelling on the Gerber Graduates meal says it is “appropriate for children one year or older” and is “specially made for toddlers.” Two other Gerber meals for toddlers also received dishonourable mentions for high salt content.
A high-sodium diet increases blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke, heart and kidney disease, and dementia. Too much dietary salt has also been linked to osteoporosis, asthma, stomach cancer and obesity.
A spokesman for Nestle, which owns Gerber, said reducing sodium “to an acceptable level” in the brand’s six toddler meals is a key priority.
“Current packages of Gerber ’Lil Entrees overstate the sodium level as they include the sodium contained in the brine (liquid) surrounding the vegetables, which is not consumed,” Dr. Andrea Papamandjaris, head of Nestle’s medical and scientific unit, said Tuesday in an emailed statement. “ The package includes instructions to drain the brine before serving.”