Tag Archives: Holle

Tea for Two – Perth Celebrates National Breastfeeding Week

Wednesday 15th June 2016

National Breastfeeding Celebration Week – 20th-26th June 2016. Pregnancy, preparing for baby’s arrival and being a new mum is such a special and exciting time.

13335831_609059579241580_4875727274828416965_nWhen Vicky, a breastfeeding support worker with the NHS in Perth got in touch about her plans to promote breastfeeding during National Breastfeeding Celebration Week,  we at Ulula felt that we must support her great work.

Vicki wants to positively promote breastfeeding in public and to help normalise it, which we totally support.

During National Breastfeeding Celebration Week local cafés and restaurants in Perth will give nursing mums a free cuppa while other local businesses are involved too, making this a real community experience.

Vicki is having a week of giveaways for new mums and so we are supplying her with 3 boxes of the very popular Holle Organic Nursing Tea, and 1 box of the delicious and soothing Holle Organic Baby Tea to give away – plus there are also lots of samples of the Holle Breastfeeding /Nursing Tea for Vicki to share too! PLUS, when you want to purchase the Tea for yourself, or any of the other Holle goodness, just use the Voucher code UlulaBFW2016 at checkout and you will receive FREE delivery on your order – try the Tea’s and receive postage free 😉

Using Nursing Tea to Naturally Increase Milk Supplyholle-organic-nursing-tea

The Holle Organic Nursing Tea is carefully formulated with a blend of the highest quality certified organic herbs traditionally used to help support healthy breast milk production. It’s a tasty and comforting tea that has already helped thousands of mums to successfully breastfeed their babies. And because it’s organic you can rest easy that there are no unnatural chemicals in your milk to harm your baby.

Holle Organic Nursing Tea is a great contribution to making your breastfeeding experience a happy one – get your free samples today at Vicki’s events through this special week, and experience the joy of watching your baby thrive as you share this special time together.

“I am really happy with the tea – my milk is flowing nicely!” Lucy, Ulula Customer

The Holle Organic Baby Tea is a delicious herbal tea suitable for babies from 2 weeks of age to help calm and relax. The carefully chosen herbs are also effective in helping to relieve wind. Older children also find this tea beneficial and enjoy the gentle taste.

“I have ordered yet more baby tea from you, in the past which has been a life saver for us!! i recommend it to all my friends who have babies with colic or reflux like our little one had.”   Catherine, Ulula Customer

And for those of us not in Perth with Vicki, and for Vicki’s mums who don’t win the Giveaway, here’s the Holle Tea special offer. Just use this voucher code UlulaBFW2016 at checkout for FREE delivery on your order – try the Tea’s and receive postage free 😉

For those mums who can’t breastfeed successfully despite their best efforts or don’t want to breastfeed for whatever reason, I would strongly advise feeding their precious baby with the very best quality baby milk or baby formula. Holle supply organic infant formulas and goat’s milk formula’s that contain organic milk from animals raised in the most natural way possible and with nothing added that a growing baby doesn’t need. And don’t be bullied into feeling guilty – your baby will be healthy and flourish. You can use the Voucher code above if you want to try the Holle Milk Formulas too.

You can find out more about the week-long event and giveaways that Vicki has organised via her facebook page https://www.facebook.com/teafortwo-Perth. Good luck with the event Vicki!

Vegetarian Baby Milk & Infant Formula

Holle Organic Goats Milk Baby Milk and Infant Follow On Formula 2 are the only organic vegetarian baby milks currently available and approved on the UK market.

Vegetarian baby milk and vegetarian infant formula are frequent topics in my email inbox. Many parents who would like to bring up their baby to be vegetarian are concerned that they cannot feed their newborn or older baby a baby milk or infant formula that is suitable. This isn’t a new topic here on the Ulula blog (I wrote about vegetarian baby milks a few years ago now) and I’m sure it won’t be the last time we address this issue. This article, however, provides an important update.

Holle goats milk is the only organic vegetarian baby milk on the UK marketHolle goats milk is the only organic vegetarian baby milk on the UK market

Vegetarian Baby Milks – the Journey to Wider Approval

In 2012 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published an opinion on the suitability of goats’ milk as a nutrient source for baby milks and follow-on formula. This opinion drew on all relevant and available scientific evidence and examined not just compositional data but considered studies relating to health and development outcomes of babies fed goats milk based formula.

The panel concluded that babies fed on goats milk formula did not show statistically significant or clinically relevant differences on major health and development ‘markers’ compared to babies fed on cows milk formula. The panel further concluded that protein from goat milk can be suitable as a protein source for baby milks and infant formula, provided the final product complies with the compositional criteria laid down in the exisiting strict regulations governing the manufacture of baby milk.

As a result, the EU’s infant formula and follow-on formula directive was amended in February 2014 permitting goats milk based baby milks (suitable from birth) and follow-on formula (suitable from 6 months) to be sold on the UK market. Previously, manufacturers such as Holle were only permitted to produce ‘goats milk nutrition’ labelled as suitable from 12 months old and onwards. Other countries permitted the sale of such milks as suitable from 6 months onwards – much to the joy of many vegetarian parents who wanted to buy vegetarian baby milk and infant formula.

Vegetarian Baby Milk – Now Available in the UK

Holle’s goats milk products have always been suitable for vegetarians. As I wrote previously, while Holle have and continue to make every effort to ensure their cows milk based baby milks are suitable for vegetarians they cannot always guarantee the source of the whey that they use in the high organic standard they demand. Consequently, they do not claim their cows based infant formula are suitable for raising vegetarian babies.

With their goats milks on the other hand, for technical nutritional reasons their ingredients lists are a little different and the same issue does not occur. Hence, both the Holle Organic Goats Milk Baby Milk and Goats Milk Infant Follow On Formula 2 are suitable for vegetarians. We have been in touch with the company nutritionists and quality control departments and have been assured that both of the Holle baby milks are suitable for vegetarians and, of course, meet all the strictly regulated compositional criteria for baby milks and infant formula as laid out in the relevant EU regulations.

I know, for many parents, the availablilty of properly regulated and manufactured vegetarian baby milk is an enormous relief. And, as the major Holle supplier here in the UK I am both pleased and proud to stock both the Holle Organic Goats Milk Baby Milk and Goats Milk Infant Follow On Formula 2.

Goats Milk Based Baby Milks and Dairy Allergies

The EFSA paper referred to above looked at the scientific evidence for the suitability of goats milk as a baby milk for babies with no other health issues, that is ‘normal, healthy babies’. Subsequently the regulations were amended to allow the manufacturer of goats based baby milks and formula from birth onwards (and hence Holle’s vegetarian baby milk).

The opinion paper also looked at the suitabilty of goats based baby milks for the 1.9% to 4.9% of babies who the World Health Organisation estimate as having a cows milk protein allergy. As you can imagine, this is a complex issue for an article about vegetarian baby milk and infant formula to go into any detail here. It is important though that I tell any parent who wishes to feed their little one a vegetarian baby milk based on goats milk that, if their baby has a known allergic reaction to cows milk, then they should seek medical advice before starting to feed any goats milk based formula. I can’t do better to highlight this issue than to quote directly from Holle:

The composition of Holle Organic Goat Milk Follow-On Formula 2 corresponds to a follow-on milk which is suitable for infants from 6 months of age who are already taking one solid meal a day. Should a child have an allergic reaction to cow’s milk, he or she may be able to tolerate goat’s milk as an alternative. Goat’s milk can, however, also cause allergies since some of the protein structures contained in cow’s and goat’s milk are the same. Key here is which protein the child has an allergic reaction to. This should, in all cases, be diagnosed by a doctor in order to clarify whether Holle Organic Infant Goat Milk Follow-On Formula 2 is a suitable alternative for your child.

Similar advice applies for goats based baby milk from birth. For the reasons outlined above the UK’s Food Standard Agency (FSA) in March 2014 issued advice that “goats’ milk infant formula and follow-on formula is not suitable for infants with a cows’ milk protein allergy, unless directed by a healthcare professional.”

I should emphasise to parents wanting a vegetarian baby milk that, unless your baby has such a cows milk protein allergy, you can feed him or her the Holle goats based baby milk or infant formula with peace of mind – it meets all evidence based EU regulations and is the only approved organic vegetarian baby milk on the market.

Best Quality Vegetarian Baby Milk

Not only are the Holle goats based baby milk and infant formula certified organic, they use milk from biodynamically raised goats on farms and smallholdings in the German Black Forest region. So, not only can your little one have vegetarian baby milk but you can rest assured that it is produced from only the best quality goats milk. Biodynamic agiculture is considered the highest form of organic and there are stringent regulations that govern both growing and production methods. The starting point is a healthy soil that is full of vitality. Biodynamic farmers use compost, hand made herbal and mineral preparations as well as green manures to strengthen and enrich their soil. Plants grown in such a healthy environment thrive, just as nature intended. They are able to take up the maximum amount of nutrients which, in turn, are passed on to your baby. Not only that, mums and dads consistently tell me their baby’s milk taste delicious – “just like milk should taste”.

The use of chemical and synthetic pesticides and fertilisers and GM technology are strictly prohibited in biodynamic agriculture. Biodynamic agriculture generally is proven to be extremely environmentally friendly and the Holle vegetarian baby milks are, as I mentioned, derived from goats raised in the Black Forest and so do not have all the high associated negative environmental footprint impacts that lesser quality milks flown in from across the other side of the world might have.

To summarise, mums and dads looking for a vegetarian baby milk for their little one now no longer need to compromise their ethics. Holle currently produce the only organic vegetarian baby milks available and approved on the UK market. Goats based baby milks are approved for all babies except for those with a medically diagnosed cows milk allergy. So, if you are rasing a vegetarian baby who has such allergies then there are still some difficulties – I said at the beginning that this won’t be the last time I’ll need to address this issue. If you would like any further information please feel free to get in touch and I’ll gladly answer any questions.

Lactose and Maltodextrin in Baby Milks

I have recently been asked by a parent about the use of maltodextrin in baby milks and infant formula. It seems there are a number of misconceptions about maltodextrin generally and the use of maltodextrin in baby milk in particular, often fed by misinformed articles elsewhere on the internet.

I approached the Holle team of nutritionists and asked them to set the record straight about just what maltodextrin is and about the use of maltodextrin in Holle baby milks. What follows is a bit ‘sciency’ but provides the definitive statement on the subject. As usual, there is often more to a particular nutrient appearing on a label than whether it is ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

Some Background on Baby Milks and Formula

Breastmilk is composed of a number of nutritional elements such as proteins, carbohydrates and fats plus vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Breastmilk has, of course, the optimum nutrient composition to meet the special nutritional needs of babies. Baby milks and infant formula are strictly regulated according to currently available scientific evidence in order to fulfil developmental and growth needs.

Baby milks and baby foods generally are some of the most highly regulated ‘foodstuffs’ in the European Union – and that is just the way it should be. These evidenced based regulations are regularly reviewed and amended and all manufacturers, including Holle, must meet their requirements. Quality assurance is strictly applied.

Carbohydrates, Lactose and Maltodextrin in Baby Milk

Carbohydrates are a group of nutrients that contains sugars and starches. A sugar is a simply structured collection of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen chemical elements that form molecules that are generally soluble and are sweet tasting. In its simplest form it is known as glucose but occurs in many forms, both naturally and artificially. Starch is a poly-sugar, mainly built out of lots of glucose-like units in chains and with a more complex, tree like structure.

An important point to bear in mind is that a glucose ‘unit’ itself tastes sweet while glucose structured as starch doesn’t. For example, the classic dietary carbohydrates potatoes, pasta and bread are made to a large extent from starch but are not considered as ‘sweet’ foods in themselves.

When carbohydrates contain 1 to 2 glucose-like units and taste sweet they are called ‘sugar’. Of which lactose is one of many examples:

  • Glucose = dextrose = grape sugar
  • Fructose = fruit sugar
  • Sucrose = white sugar (one glucose and one fructose molecule combined)
  • Inverted sugar = artificial, (honey = natural) = mixture of glucose and fructose in equal parts, these taste sweeter than the same amount of sucrose
  • Lactose = milk sugar (one glucose and one galactose molecule combined)

The more sugar units are connected with each other the less sweet a carbohydrate tastes. Usually carbohydrates with 3 to 4 sugar units no longer have any sweetening properties.

Maltodextrin and Lactose in Baby Milk

All baby milks naturally contain lactose – that is the naturally occuring sugar in milk. To ensure their milks have sufficient energy content manufacturers are, according to the regulations, able to add either lactose or maltodextrin. The Holle brand uses maltodextrin.

Maltodextrin is a modified starch, which means the length of the glucose chains in the carbohydrate is shorter than the one from the original starch. The basic properties remain those of starch. There are many varieties of maltodextrin, depending on the structure present.

Holle uses a maltodextrin that has starch like properties and yet doesn’t taste sweet. Because of the shorter chain length it is easier for babies to digest than the starch itself would be, while still serving its purpose of providing energy.

Starches, including maltodextrin, release their energy slower than sugars. This means that two different baby milks with the same amount of energy per portion can release that energy at different rates. Holle uses a maltodextrin that is slower releasing which means that their formula can help a baby feel satisified for longer.

Certain internet sources often suggest that maltodextrin is used merely as a ‘filler’ and that it is a sugar or sweetener – neither of which is necessarily the case. Holle uses maltodextrin in their baby milks, not just because it is easy for babies to digest and releases energy at a slower rate, but for another very specific and very sensible reason.

Avoiding Excessive Sweetness in Baby Milks

Breastmilk naturally contains a lot of energy, much of which comes from its naturally occuring milk sugar, lactose – and so this essential nutritional element is reflected in baby milks and formulas. As in breastmilk, the sugar in Holle baby milks naturally comes from the milk itself in the form of lactose. A small amount of energy also comes from starch in the form of maltodextrin. If Holle didn’t use maltodextrin they would need to add more lactose in order to comply with the legal requirements for energy levels. That would, in fact, make the baby milks and formulas much sweeter in taste. Holle want to avoid having their milk taste too sweet. Not encouraging a lifetime tendency to having a sweettooth from the beginning, seems to me, to be a very sensible thing to do.

When I try the Holle milk myself I agree with the many, many parents who tell me that the Holle baby milks are one of the few on the market that taste just like ‘ordinary’ milk. They don’t have that ‘chemical set’ tang that so many brands do and they aren’t overly sweet. If you have the opportunity, try the Holle milk yourself and you’ll taste the difference too.

Easy to Make up Bottles

An additional benefit that Holle gains from the use of maltodextrin in their baby milks is that maltodextrin helps to make the milk powder more soluble in water. Holle baby milks are definitely easy to prepare – many mums tell me that. While this is not the reason for Holle using maltodextrin in their baby milks and infant formula, it certainly gives busy parents wanting to quickly make up a bottle an added benefit.

Using the Best Raw Ingredients

As I mentioned, baby milks and baby foods generally are, rightly, highly regulated. Holle doesn’t just want to meet those regulations – just like all the other baby food manufacturers. They want to go even further. Whenever they can see an opportunity to do so they surpass the regulations.

One way Holle baby milks distinguish themselves are by using biodynamically produced and certificated milk – the highest organic quality. They take the view that using the best quality raw materials and using the gentlest methods of production is better than adding too many isolated ingredients later. For mothers who cannot or do not wish to breastfeed, using a high quality baby milk or infant formula that contains an easy to digest and non-sweet maltodextrin is an advantage. Baby milks that are not excessively sweet may help avoid getting babies hooked on the really sweet flavours that come from sweeteners such as sugar.

If you would like any further information please feel free to get in touch and we’ll gladly answer any questions.

Holle Organic Baby Food Pouches

Premium Organic Baby Food Pouches  – Now Available in Thirteen Delicious Flavours to the Highest Organic Quality

Holle started planning their organic baby food pouches a while ago now and it’s been interesting watching their development. As with everything else they produce, the Holle nutritionist team were determined to develop a range of baby food pouches second to none in terms of quality and flavour. And everyone here at Ulula thinks they’ve managed just that.

Holle organic baby food pouches

Thirteen Baby Food Pouches to Choose From

The Holle Organic Baby Food Pouches are certified organic as well as all being Demeter certified – they’re made with the highest quality biodynamically grown fruits and vegetables. And, they taste absolutely delicious. The baby food pouches contains fruit and vegetable puree specially chosen to blend well together and to be suitable from the earliest of weaning ages. Here’s a quick rundown of the available varieties and their recommended ‘from’ ages:

Every organic baby food pouch is, just as you would expect from Holle, guaranteed to be free from added sugars, artificial flavourings, preservatives, colourings and thickening agents. And, of course, all pouches are guaranteed free from genetically modified ingredients.

Baby Food on the Go

Being in a pouch, rather than the usual Holle jars, means taking your baby’s food out with you is now easier than ever. The Ulula taste testers told us that they preferred to take the baby food pouches when out shopping or visiting friends and relatives and to use the jars, especially the meat or vegetable varieties, when feeding baby at home. They told us how the baby food pouches were not just more convenient but saved them time.

Taste Tester Feedback

As well as loving the portability and convenience it’s fair to say that every Ulula taste tester that we asked to try them were bowled over by these Holle organic baby food pouches. They loved the large number of varieties available, their taste and texture as well as praising their quality in the highest terms. Here’s just a couple of comments:

My little one loved these baby food pouches so much that I can’t wait to be able to place an order. His big sister is also a fan so I better make sure I order plenty!

These pouches taste soooo good!!! The fruits taste really fresh and they go well together in every pouch. It’s great to be able to get such baby food in this high a quality – every variety is even Demeter certified. Keep up the good work Holle!

Different Multi-packs for Different Needs

The Holle organic baby food pouches can be given when first starting to wean your baby and beyond. For early weaners the pure Pear or Carrot pouches are ideal, then there are varieties suitable from six months and pouches from 8 months onwards. To make it easy to buy the pouches for the right weaning stages we’ve put together several age-based multi-packs – the Weaning Stage One multi-pack, the 6 Months plus multi-pack and the 8 months plus multi-pack. For those that want to truly mix and match as your baby gets older there’s a six pouch variety pack with a variety of flavours.

We’ve also included a five pouch gluten-free multi-pack for those parents that want or need to avoid gluten in their baby’s diet.

Because these pouches mix so well with the Holle baby porridges you can be very flexible in how you approach those first tentative weaning steps with your baby. Try mixing and matching with different porridge varieties for an all round nutritional approach.

So, the Holle organic baby food pouch are ideal from when starting to wean your baby and well beyond. Our taste testers certainly reported back how well received the pouches were also by their baby’s older siblings and, it has to be said, by the parents themselves! As your baby becomes a toddler they can, of course, still enjoy the benefits of top quality organic fruits with the Mogli smoothies for kids.

Save Money with Holle Organic Baby Food Pouches

Each Holle Organic Baby Food Pouch variety comes in 90g packs for £1.29 for a single pouch or as packs of three pouches for £3.55 – save 32 pence. Alternatively, every six pack is priced at £7.14 (or £1.19 per pouch), giving you a saving of 60 pence with every pack.

Since launching the Holle Organic Baby Food Pouches earlier this year they have become instant bestsellers here at Ulula – parents appreciate the variety, the tastes and the quality. Let us know which pouches are your baby’s favourites.

Pure Fruit Baby Food

After our recent article on the launch of the Mogli pure fruit smoothies for kids I had an email from a customer asking about pure fruit baby food suitable to give a younger baby when first starting to wean.

The Holle pure fruit baby food jars have been popular with customers ever since they came on to the market. Since stocking Holle’s latest addition to the range (Holle Organic Apple & Banana) we were asked by many parents to put together a pure fruit baby food multi-pack with all three pure fruit jar varieties.

Pure fruit baby food by Holle

Organic pure fruit baby food by Holle

I love it when customers give us really good ideas for product combinations, so we’ve now put together the Holle Organic Finest Fruit Puddings pack. In the few weeks it’s been online it’s proving something of a best seller.

The Holle Organic Finest Fruit Puddings multi-pack contains the following individual jars:

These pure fruit baby food jars are popular when starting to wean because young babies need to get used to different tastes –  slowly and preferably with as few ingredients as possible. Give to your baby just as the puree comes or mix with one of Holle’s baby porridges. Or why not give as a dessert after your baby’s vegetable puree.

Whatever age your baby is they’ll love these purees – they’re full of pure fruit goodness, certified organic, gluten free, dairy free and, of course, with no added sugars. In fact, just pure, top quality fruit.

Most importantly, these Holle pure fruit baby food jars taste absolutely gorgeous – but don’t take my word for it, try them yourself and let us know what you think. And, of course, if you have any ideas for product combinations you’d like to see on the Ulula website, please just get in touch and let me know your thoughts.

Gluten Free Baby Porridges from Holle – an Update

Gluten free baby porridges are an important choice for many parents starting to wean their baby. Holle baby food has always had a long history of producing an extensive range of porridges for babies, including a number of gluten free baby porridges for little ones of all ages. The Ulula Holle Weaning Starter Kit and Ulula’s Baby Weaning Starter Porridge Pack are lovely examples for babies and parents just starting out on their weaning journey together.

Gluten free baby porridges from Holle

Gluten free baby porridges from Holle

As you’d expect, Holle’s gluten free baby porridges are all certified organic and produced to the very highest standard. Wherever possible, the grains for the gluten free porridges, along with the rest of the Holle range, are grown to biodynamic farming standards and are Demeter certified.

Holle’s Gluten Free Baby Porridges- Some Temporary Changes

Natural, organically grown products are always subject to variations in the weather. In more difficult years, in which there is a lot of rain or it is extremely dry, the result can be that insufficient quantities of grain are available at the very highest quality standard demanded by Holle. As a result of the extremely poor harvest in 2013 Holle cannot presently offer millet gluten free baby porridge in its usual certified Demeter biodynamic quality, in addition to being organically certified. This is because there are ony limited quantities of the raw grain available due to the increased humidity that Holle’s farmers in the growing areas of Austria and Hungary faced during 2013.

In order to maintain a consistently available supply of gluten free baby porridges for your baby, Holle have decided to temporarily switch over to organically certified millet that is not also Demeter certified. They will also mix the former single grain gluten free baby porridges Millet and Millet Apple & Pear with a small proportion of organic wholegrain rice. See further below for more details.

A Comprehensive Range of Gluten Free Baby Porridges

As a result of these temporary changes Holle are still able to offer a comprehensive assortment of gluten free baby porridges in top quality organic standard. Of course, the labelling, packaging and product descriptions on the Ulula website for all the Holle gluten free baby porridges reflect these changes. We will also keep you informed as soon as future harvests allow for a sufficient quantity of biodynamically grown grains and the gluten free porridges are back as being Demeter certified, in addition to organic.

Gluten Free Baby Porridges – Holle’s Current Organic Range

The following provides a summary of the changes made to the current Holle organic gluten free baby porridge range. See individual product descriptions for more details.

Holle Organic Rice Baby Porridge

  • Certified organic. Temporarily no longer Demeter certified.

Holle Organic Millet Baby Porridge

  • Certified organic. Temporarily no longer Demeter certified;
  • Mixed with 25% organic wholegrain rice.

Holle Organic Millet Baby Porridge with Apple & Pear

  • Certified organic. Temporarily no longer Demeter certified;
  • Mixed with 22.5 % organic wholegrain rice.

Holle Organic Three Grain Baby Porridge

  • Certified organic. Temporarily no longer Demeter certified.

Please note that the rest of the Holle organic baby porridge range remains unchanged. The alternative milk cereal range also remains unchanged.

Holle Baby Porridge Voluntary Withdrawal and Recall

Please note: The withdrawal mentioned in this article is no longer current. This article has been left on the site as a matter of historical record.

Update: October 2017

After a question about this issue was asked of us, we contacted Holle for an update . Here is their Quality Manager’s statement:

“Thank you very much for your question and for asking us directly about this issue. Please, first I will explain what happened: In late 2013 and early 2014 production we and plenty of other producers of organic millet and buckwheat products, had founds traces of Tropane alkaloids. These Tropane alkaloids are naturally produced by some plants to fight feeding predators. In some harvest events it was possible that sap of these plants had ended up in the millet and buckwheat seed harvest.

In opposite of conventional farmers, organic farmers does not have the possibility to kill these plants by usage of broad band pesticides. But this is not the problem. In 20.000 years history of plant growing, these plant metabolites has been often and fully eaten by humans. The traces that has been found in our products for example are 200 times lower than a pharmaceutical active dose for infants.

So what happened? In these months in 2013/14, due to new techniques, the laboratories where able to find Tropane alkaloids in very low concentrations. This was new and German authorities just didn’t know how to handle it. We had only found two Tropane alkaloids, and there was absolutely no indication for any harm to the babies.

After explanations and arrangements with the German authorities regarding how to react, some other eastern European authorities misunderstood the situation such that they published an alert, and that was spread virally all over the world.  In this case we had no other option; we must recall all products containing millet and buckwheat. Seven or eight other organic producers followed. In this example you can see how powerful media can be.  

Since then, we have set EU maximum values for these traces, and every batch is monitored, plenty of times, to avoid Tropane alkaloids in our products! From that point in 2014 on, we never found any of these metabolites again.   Hopefully your fears are allayed a bit. If you have further questions do not hesitate to ask us.”

 

Original Blog Published: 16th December 2014.

Apologies in advance for the length of this article. I write at length so as to give concerned parents full information about a voluntary limited withdrawal of some baby porridges by Holle baby food. It is worth reading in total as the most useful background and current information for parents is sadly missing from official UK statements.

Due to new testing methods a minute amount of chemicals in the tropane alkaloids family have been found in three past batches of millet based Holle baby porridges.  However, Holle are very aware of their responsibilities to parents to produce consistently safe food for young babies. As a result they immediately issued a voluntary withdrawal of subsequent batches while they work to further improve their already stringent production processes and to work with their independent testing facilities to incorporate any new testing methodologies that may be necessary.

Testing for Tropane Alkaloids in Foods

Tropane alkaloids have been present in human food ever since agriculture has been practiced. They come from the seeds of wild plants that may grow in cultivated fields as undesirable competition to a crop. In October 2013, the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) conducted a study on tropane alkaloids with the aim of coming to a conclusion as to whether to set a limit when it comes to atropine and scopolamine (the two relevant chemicals) contained in food or not. As a result of this study, the EFSA recommended an acute reference dose (ARfD). At the beginning of 2014, however, the European Union decided not to set an official permitted maximum limit for tropane alkaloids due to unclear and unstandardised and non-validated analysis methods. In other words, according to the present state of accepted knowledge, so far a maximum permitted level for tropane alkaloids set by the European Union does not exist. It is also worth mentioning that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has not published any comment on the subject.

It is only very recently that a laboratory of the government of one of the German federal states has developed an in-house method to detect and quantify tropane alkaloids. It is accepted within the scientific community that it is not known how valid this method currently is, since it has not been validated and there have not been interlaboratory comparison tests (ring trials). It was this agency that detected the presence of the tropane alkaloids and subsequently issued an alert notification. In a statement from November 2013, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) noted that they were not aware of any cases of health impairments in babies, toddlers, or consumers of other age groups, caused by the consumption of food containing traces of tropane alkaloids.

I should emphasise that the German authorities who came up with this alert notification neither demanded Holle to do an official recall directly to the end-consumer nor to recall all Holle porridges containing millet from the shelves at any time. Further, an official worldwide withdrawal was not requested. This remains the case.

The Food Standard Agency Response

However, despite this history and the voluntary withdrawal of current porridges of the same varieties as those affected in the one past batch, the UK Food Standards Agency decided to institute an official recall of four Holle porridges. I shall reproduce their recall below. A similar mistaken recall was issued by a number of other similar agencies in Europe and elsewhere around the world. Authorities in Ireland, for example, have subsequently admitted their mistake and have corrected it with immediate effect. Despite promptings to do so the UK FSA have refused to correct their initial statement. As a major importer of Holle baby foods I am sure officials from the FSA will be reading this article and I invite them, in the spirit of openness, to submit their response in the comment section below.

I emphasise again. Holle has voluntarily withdrawn four baby porridges despite them not being shown to have been affected by this issue. They know how important it is to make the safest possible baby food and this voluntary withdrawal allows them to make sure everything possible is being done to keep up with all possible latest findings, even though they have not been validated within the wider scientific community. To me that says a great deal about their values-based ethical approach and I feel they have acted honourably throughout.

The Food Standard Agency Statement in Full

The following is taken from the FSA website.

Holle branded and Lebenswert branded baby foods recalled

Last updated: 12 December 2014

Holle Baby Food GmbH Serviceburo is recalling all batches of specific Holle branded and Lebenswert branded baby foods due to the presence of atropine and scopolamine.
All batches of the following products are being recalled:

  • Holle Organic Millet Porridge Apple-Pear (pack size: 250g)
  • Holle Organic Millet Porridge with Rice (pack size: 250g)
  • Holle Organic Millet Porridge (pack size: 250g)
  • Holle Organic Holle Organic 3-Grain Porridge (pack size: 250g)
  • Millet and Rice Whole Wheat Porridge (Lebenswert bio Hirse & Reis Vollkornbrei)

The FSA is investigating how these products have been distributed in the UK and is requesting any food businesses who stock this product to recall it from sale.

If you have bought this product, do not feed it to your infant. Consumption of the affected products may cause short-term adverse effects, for example, dilated pupils, change of heart rate, dryness of the mouth, constipation, urinary retention, and flushed skin. The chemicals present will be excreted from the body and therefore there are no long term health effects.

This limited statement gives little background information and doesn’t tell parents anything about any potential likelihood that their baby may have been affected. I thought I would leave that to the FSA of Ireland with this official statement taken from their website:

Baby Food Recall December 2014

Holle Baby Food Gmbh Serviceburo is recalling the Holle branded and Lebenswert branded baby foods listed below due to the presence of the chemicals atropine and scopolamine.

What products are recalled?
Holle Organic Millet Porridge Apple-Pear (250g)
Holle Organic Millet Porridge with Rice (250g)
Holle Organic Milk Porridge Millet (250g)
Holle Organic Holle Organic 3-Grain Porridge (250g)
Millet and Rice Whole Wheat Porridge (Lebenswert bio Hirse & Reis Vollkornbrei);
All batch codes, all best before dates 
Country of Origin: Switzerland

Are all of the products affected?
No, just some batches are implicated, but all are being recalled as a precautionary measure.

Are these products sold in all shops?
No, they are primarily sold in health food stores. In-store recall notices will be displayed in outlets that sold the affected products.

What chemicals are present?
Atropine and scopolamine. These chemicals are tropane alkaloids that can occur naturally in certain plants and can have pharmacological properties (effects on the nervous system).

How did they get into the product?
There is no confirmation yet as to how these chemicals got into the product. However, as the country of origin is Switzerland, it is being investigated by the Authorities there.

What are the effects of consuming these chemicals?
Consuming these chemicals may cause short term adverse effects, for example, dilated pupils, change of heart rate, dryness of the mouth, constipation, urinary retention, and flushed skin. Symptoms usually occur 30-60 minutes after consumption. The chemicals present will be excreted from the body and therefore there are no long term health effects. This usually occurs in 12 to 48 hours. Consumption of implicated products is unlikely to cause these effects but it cannot entirely be excluded.

My baby has consumed this product. Has he/she been poisoned?
It your baby has consumed any of the implicated products, and did not display any of the symptoms listed above within 30 minutes – up to 24hrs of eating the product, it is unlikely he/she has been affected. The levels found in these products have been quite low, and are below levels associated with causing effects. Consumption of implicated products is unlikely to cause any effects.

What should I do if my baby displays these symptoms?
The chemicals present will be excreted from the body within 12 to 48 hours. There are no long term health effects. However, if you are concerned, it is advisable to seek medical advice.

My baby has been eating these products for a number of weeks/months.
It is unlikely that all, if any, of the products that your baby consumed were affected. Even if your baby consumed these products over a period of time, the chemicals don’t build up in the body but are excreted within 12 to 48 hours. There are no long term health effects.

What should I do if I have this product?
You should not feed the product to your baby. You should either dispose of the product or return it to the store where you bought it.

Holle Baby Food Response

I thought it only fair that I also present the Holle baby food response to these events. Again, I quote in full from their webpage:

Product withdrawal: Holle baby food millet porridges

A German state laboratory detected traces of natural tropane alkaloids in samples of Holle Organic Millet Porridge, Holle Organic Millet with Rice Porridge and Holle Organic Millet Porridge Apple-Pear.

We want to be on the safe side, we want to avoid any risk for very small children and we also want to avoid any damage to our own good reputation over different laboratories’ disputes about their results and evaluations. This is why we are voluntarily withdrawing three batches from the market.

This voluntary withdrawal affects the following lots and products:

  • Holle Organic Millet Porridge, lot number L13219 with best-before date 30.04.2015
  • Holle Organic Millet with Rice Porridge , lot number L14103 with best-before date 30.11.2015
  • Holle Organic Millet Apple-Pear Porridge, lot number L13239 with best-before date 30.04.2015

The goods we have on stock are blocked and will not be delivered. Our retail partners are instructed to take the products from the shelves immediately. Customers who already bought Holle millet porridges and have them at home can of course return them for a refund in the shop.

Background information:

Currently, there are no officially verified standard measuring methods to detect tropane alkaloids.

Based on its own new in-house measuring method, a German state laboratory detected traces of tropane alkaloids in Holle millet porridges.

Tropane alkaloids are natural substances of weed seeds in millet crops. Careful cultivation helps eliminating them. One year ago, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and its German equivalent, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), raised the issue of traces of such seeds, such as the seeds of henbanes, that have always been present in food. They categorized them as undesirable and evaluated their risks. As a consequence, official laboratories targeted these alkaloids to develop their own in-house reference methods. The traces they are reporting with these methods are now the subject of warnings and withdrawals. A valid standard method does not yet exist.

In a statement from November 2013, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) noted that they were not aware of any cases of health impairments in babies, toddlers, or consumers of other age groups, caused by the consumption of food containing traces of tropane alkaloids.

We regret the current situation very much and would like to apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Should you require any further information, please don’t hesitate to contact the Holle baby food service team:
service@holle.ch

Holle’s Frequently Asked Questions on Tropane Alkaloids in Baby Food

In the interests of completeness and openness I provide the latest list of frequently asked questions from Holle’s website. These provide even more of the background and useful information missing from the FSA.

Frequently asked questions and their answers:

 What is this about?

An official analysis detected traces of plant substances called tropane alkaloids. Unfortunately, both the risk assessment and the analytical methods to detect tropane alkaloids are not very clear. As a precaution and to avoid any risk for very small children, Holle baby food GmbH has therefore decided to voluntarily withdraw three batches of Holle Organic Millet Porridge products from the market.

Which method was applied for the analysis?

Currently, there are no valid standard methods to detect tropane alkaloids, and no certified reference materials. The test results of our independent, accredited laboratory all show no or only very small contaminations. Also, the test results for all other Holle products show no traces of tropane alkaloids.

What are tropane alkaloids?

The main tropane alkaloids are atropine and scopolamine. They are natural substances of the solanaceous herb or nightshade plant family, including thornapple, deadly nightshade, and angel’s trumpet. The plants produce them in order to deter potential herbivores.

Have cases of impairments been reported?

Unfortunately, the assessment of the risk connected to tropane alkaloids is not very clear. In November 2013, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) published a statement about tropane alkaloids. They note that they were not aware of any cases of acute or chronic health impairments in consumers of all age groups caused by tropane alkaloids in food products.

Which amounts were detected?

The detected amounts of tropane alkaloids are very minimal. They are within nanogram or microgram range (one microgram is equal to one millionth of a gram). Tropane alkaloids such as atropine are also employed for medicinal purposes. According to relevant literature, up to 40 micrograms of atropine are used therapeutically in children. The traces detected in Holle products are at least 40 times less.

How do tropane alkaloids get into food products?

Seeds containing tropane alkaloids are included in the harvest directly on the field; they are later sorted out by modern filtering techniques. Unfortunately, the family of tropane alkaloid producing plants is very large, and similarities between their seeds and the actual crop are always possible, so they might not be sorted out. Tropane alkaloid producing plants have been harvested along the actual crops ever since agriculture developed. The filtering techniques of today have of course improved a lot, but so have the laboratory methods to analyze crops. Nowadays, even the most minimal amounts of tropane alkaloids are detectable.

Which efforts is Holle baby food GmbH making to keep tropane alkaloid concentrations even lower in the future?

We at Holle baby food GmbH and our production partners have already established a broad monitoring program for tropane alkaloids, which has been in use for several months. We have also promoted the improvement of technical and physical methods to eliminate the seeds of plants containing tropane alkaloids.

Conclusion

Once again, I apologise for the length of this article. I felt it important though that parents be given the opportunity to fully aware of the background and current information. Even given the unofficial nature of the test that has identified these naturally occuring chemicals in foods and the lack of any official European or worldwide standards on maximum levels of such chemicals Holle has voluntarily acted to ensure that they continue to provide parents with consistently safe food for their babies. The past batch that was identifed was voluntarily withdrawn, despite the relevant official bodies not requesting such a withdrawal or being aware of any cases of acute or chronic health impairments in consumers of all age groups caused by tropane alkaloids in food products.

As a supplier of Holle baby foods and as a mother who has fed my children Holle baby foods I personally am glad that Holle has taken such an precautionary approach. It merely underlines for me the seriousness in which they hold our children’s safety and general health. I am also saddened though that UK authorities have failed to give a comprehensive account of the situation to concerned parents and invite them again to leave their response below.

I will continue to monitor this situation carefully and if any thing new comes to light will let you know via the website.