At Little Étoile, we are committed to quality organic ingredients and meticulous testing across allergens and a range of toxins to ensure safe and trustworthy products for your little stars.
Why we test for allergens?
‘Allergen free’ claims on foods in Australia and New Zealand are not thoroughly regulated (1). Comprehensive testing on baby food products is surprisingly uncommon and standard disclaimers and voluntary warnings on food packaging can be misleading and broad. Food allergens may only affect a small population of children, however at Little Étoile we consider risk prevention and clear food labelling our responsibility and a mandatory aspect of our role in food safety.
What allergens do we test for?
At Little Étoile Organic we have a strict allergen management program in place which involves testing during the manufacturing process and further testing when each batch is finished, to ensure cross contamination has not occurred. We test every single finished batch using accredited independent laboratories to ensure our pouches are free from the most common allergens; gluten, milk (except in custard), macadamia, crustacea, almond, egg, hazelnut, soy, sesame, peanut, walnut, fish, pistachio, cashew, and lupin.
What guidelines do we adhere to?
We comply with guidelines set out by The Allergen Bureau, which is an Australian and New Zealand peak industry body that carries out VITAL (Voluntary Incidental Trace Allergen Labelling) allergen risk assessment processes for the food industry (2).
Why we test for heavy metals?
Recent US testing, commissioned by Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF) on 168 baby foods, found toxic heavy metals (mercury, lead, arsenic and cadmium) in 95% of products tested, and 25% of products tested contained all four contaminants (3). The findings of this research mirror those of a previous study by the US Food & Drug Administration, whereby at least one of the same four metals was found in 33 of the 39 tested baby foods (4).
Exposure to even small amounts of these heavy metals at an early age may increase risk of several health problems (3):
- IQ deficits later in childhood
- Behavioural and learning issues
- Attention Deficit Syndrome (ADD)
- Long term organ function may be affected
- Arsenic, cadmium and lead are known carcinogens
The consequences of heavy metal accumulation in the body typically do not eventuate overnight, but over days, weeks or even years which is why there is an absence of regulated limits or guidance.
What guidelines do we adhere to?
There are currently no official maximum levels of heavy metals specified for infants in Australia, except for Lead in infant formula products (5). As the health consequences of these contaminants are gradual, thus far, limits have not been devised. Despite this, every single finished batch of Little Étoile Organic is voluntarily tested by an accredited independent laboratory to ensure that we meet the strictest standards for heavy metals including Lead, Arsenic, Mercury and Cadmium.
- Bureau, Allergen. Food Allergen FAQs. [Online] [Cited: January 7, 2020.] http://allergenbureau.net/food-allergens/food-allergen-faqs/#Q1.
- Bureau, The Allergen. The VITAL program. [Online] [Cited: January 7, 2020.] http://allergenbureau.net/vital/.
- Jane Houlihan, MSCE, and Charlotte Brody, RN, Healthy Babies Bright Future. What’s in my baby’s food? A national investigation finds 95 percent of baby foods tested contain toxic chemicals that lower babies’ IQ, including arsenic and lead. Healthy Babies Bright Futures. [Online] 2019. [Cited: January 7, 2020.] https://www.healthybabyfood.org/sites/healthybabyfoods.org/files/2019-10/BabyFoodReport_FULLREPORT_ENGLISH_R5b.pdf.
- Administration, U.S Food and Drug. Infant Formula Guidance Documents & Regulatory Information. [Online] [Cited: January 7, 2020.] https://www.fda.gov/food/guidance-documents-regulatory-information-topic-food-and-dietary-supplements/infant-formula-guidance-documents-regulatory-information.
- Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. [Online] https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2017C00333. Schedule 19.