Clear baby food pouches: Is what you see really what you get?
GoGoSqueez recently announced a voluntary recall of its applesauce pouches after finding product residue in the pumps at one of its factories. This is not the first time the company has had to recall its products; in 2015, customers complained of mold in food pouches.
GoGoSqueez is not alone in the need for recalls, however. Beechnut recalled jars of its sweet potato and chicken recipe in 2014 for fear the food was contaminated with bits of glass.
In 2007, Gerber recalled its organic oatmeal and rice cereal due to a choking hazard, and in 2012, recalled its Good Start Gentle Formula due to an unusual odor and complaints of gastrointestinal issues.
To quell growing concerns over unseen problems such as mold, the Happy Family baby food company is the first to launch a line of food pouches made of clear plastic, allowing consumers to see the product inside.
The "Clearly Crafted" line offers "goodness you can see" both in the package and on the label. The company not only lists the certified non-GMO, organic ingredients in order of quantity, as required by the FDA, but also gives the simple recipe for the food. For example, the Clearly Crafted pears, zucchini and peas pouch contains two-fifths of a pear, 2 tablespoons of grated zucchini and 25 peas.
When it comes to other baby food brands, is what you see really what you get? Take, for example, Plum Organics' zucchini, banana and amaranth pouch. The ingredients are all USDA organic: apple puree, banana puree, water, concentrated zucchini puree, milled amaranth and citric acid. That's right. The first ingredient — indicating the most predominant ingredient by weight — is apple puree.
Both Plum Organics and Gerber say they add ingredients, like apple, to products for their mild taste and consistency. The package labels caused Plum Organics and Gerber some trouble in 2015, when the Center for Science in the Public Interest threatened to sue both companies over what it called deceptive marketing practices.
Gerber responded with a note to parents on its website, reminding customers that while its packages may use creative, descriptive names for recipes and baby food combinations, parents should still read the label for ingredients listed in order by quantity.
Beechnut has taken its labeling a step further, listing the percentages of each ingredient in its products on its website.
Beechnut also appears to do a better job of naming its products accurately. A jar of banana, blueberries and green beans contains 64.5 percent bananas, 19.95 percent blueberries, 15.05 percent green beans and 0.5 percent lemon juice concentrate.
Beechnut products do not appear to contain any extra fillers (like apple puree), and the names on the jars match the ingredients on the label.
Although some baby food companies offer flashier food combinations — such as quinoa and leeks with chicken and tarragon, or zucchini and spinach with pasta marinara — always read the ingredients label to find out just what's in that pouch you're thinking of adding to your shopping cart.