EFSA Questions Purpose of “Growing-Up Milk”

Are new regulations coming for toddler formula in Europe?

In reviewing the nutrition requirements of infants and toddlers, EFSA has come to the conclusion that so-called “growing-up milk” serves “no unique role” in the diet. In other words, the EU health watchdog believes such products don’t provide any additional value to a balanced diet.

Also known as “toddler’s milk,” growing-up milks are liquid or powder-based formula products intended for children 1 to 3 years of age, usually as an early alternative to cow’s milk. They can be based in milk or plant protein and are fortified with any number of macronutrients and micronutrients.

While an EFSA expert panel reviewed EU infant and toddler diets and found need for improvement-namely, low consumption of omega-3s, iron, vitamin D, and iodine-the panel clearly states in its opinion that growing-up milks should not necessarily be a parent’s first option for making up the nutritional difference. Even if growing-up milks can do just that.

Fortified formulae, including young-child formula, are one way to increase such intakes. However, there are other efficient alternatives, such as fortified cow’s milk, fortified cereals, and cereal-based foods, supplements, or the early introduction of meat and fish into complementary feeding and continued regular consumption of these foods.

EFSA’s recommendation comes at a time when growing-up milks are in popular demand. Alongside the panel review, EFSA was instructed by the European Commission to collect data on growing-up milk markets. EFSA contracted Ainia Centro Tecnológico to do this, and a report now details market shares and other useful market information on EU growing-up milks. For starters, France, Spain, Germany, and Italy (in that order) are the most active growing-milk markets.

Despite the success of growing-up milks, EFSA notes that unlike infant formula, growing-up milks are not subject to specific EU regulations, and thus “the Commission is considering whether to recommend special provisions for these products in upcoming regulation.” EFSA is even suggesting a potential name change to “young-child formula” because the more commonly used terms may be misleading.

EFSA is due for a follow-up opinion on “the essential composition” of infant and toddler formulas in 2014.