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Nestlé’s Gerber launches infant snack line with allergy prevention in mind

Nestlé’s infant nutrition subsidiary Gerber is expanding its organic snacks range with the introduction of Gerber Organic BabyPops. The product is a new puffed corn and oat snack which comes in three varieties – Peanut, Tomato and Banana Raspberry. The snacks do not contain any added sweetener or salt, while their organic status signifies non-GMO credentials, the company notes. The launch comes at a time when industry is exploring allergy prevention by exposing children to such foods in early life. Research has shown intolerances can occur less frequently if babies are exposed to allergens sooner in their development.

“The products are designed for crawlers learning to self-feed. BabyPops dissolve easily in your little one’s mouth and are just the right size for little fingers learning to pick up. While every child reaches this milestone at their own pace, this is usually around eight months or older when babies are in the crawler stage, ready for finger foods. All BabyPops contain peanuts, so it is advised to ask your doctor about peanuts for your baby,” Sarah Smith-Simpson, Principle Scientist at Gerber, tells.

BabyPops Peanut contains real, organic peanut flour and is the first Gerber product to offer peanut in a developmentally appropriate form to help parents include peanut in their little one’s diet.

“Gerber recognizes the importance of having a peanut snack available as pediatric and nutrition experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), state there is now evidence in some infants that the early introduction of infant-safe forms of peanuts reduces the risk of peanut allergies,” notes Dr. Joel Lim, Pediatric Gastroenterologist and Gerber Medical Director. “Of course, parents should always discuss the introduction of peanut and other food allergens with their doctor and follow their doctor's instructions.”

Preventing allergies
Awareness of food allergies is currently at an all-time high in the US, with many parents concerned about food allergies when first introducing solids. The AAP has changed their stance from avoidance to suggesting early introduction of allergenic foods, such as peanuts, eggs and fish.

Once allergenic foods are tolerated by babies, experts recommend continuing to feed these foods routinely. Additionally, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee published a scientific report this month (July 2020), which includes a recommendation for introduction of peanut products between six and 12 months and to carefully choose forms that will not present a choking hazard. The Committee also stated that there is no reason to avoid other potentially allergenic foods, such as tree nuts, in the first year of life.

When introducing a new food or potential allergen to your baby, pediatricians recommend offering it in a small amount during the first introduction Gerber says. If the baby does not react to this serving, it is encouraged to slowly increase the amount offered. Parents are advised to wait several days after feeding one food before introducing another to make it easier to pinpoint where the allergy is coming from.

“It’s incredibly exciting for us to be introducing a new snack to our organic portfolio while also helping parents who are navigating food allergen introduction with their little ones,” says Mansi Kothari, Brand Manager at Gerber. “While a baby’s pediatrician should always be consulted before offering a new food, especially potential food allergens, Gerber supports families concerned with food allergens via our product labelling, online content and the Parent Resource Center’s 24/7 support.”

Other brands have also tapped into this nutrition trend, such as US-based Square Baby, which added two new baby food “Square Meals” to its portfolio, rounding out their “Early Allergen Introduction” menu. The company says the move makes it the only company offering all of the top eight allergens with whole, fresh baby foods. The launch aims to introduce allergens to babies early in order to detect or prevent allergic reactions to foods, in line with recent research on the matter. The two new additions include flavors such as “Coconut Shrimp Fried Rice” and “Almond Butter & Banana.”

Happy Family Organics – a fast growing organic baby food brand in the US – also announced a new pouch line, Happy Baby Organics Nutty Blends. These purees combine peanut and tree nut butters with familiar fruits. Developed with pediatric allergists, Happy Baby Organics Nutty Blends offers a convenient way to include peanuts and tree nuts in baby’s diet in an “infant-appropriate” texture.

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