How is jarred baby food made

Jarred Baby Food Isn't the Worst, but Neither Is Making Your Own

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Store-bought baby food isn’t poison, but these tips will prove making your own isn’t rocket science, either. Find the balance that works for you.

Is jarred baby food basically the worst thing ever? Some recent headlines might have you nodding your head yes — and then feeling like the worst parent ever for not always having time to concoct homemade purées for your baby.

The vast majority of packaged baby foods and snacks contain one or more heavy metals like arsenic or lead — with rice-based snacks and infant cereals, teething biscuits, fruit juice, and jarred carrots and sweet potatoes being the worst offenders, according to a recent report by the nonprofit Healthy Babies Bright Futures.

Which, of course, sounds terrifying. But does it really mean that you can never, ever, give your baby store-bought food again?

The answer is no, experts say. “The metal content of baby food really isn’t any more elevated than all the other food adults and older children consume every day. Parents should not be overly alarmed by this piece of news,” says Samantha Radford, PhD, a public health expert and chemist and owner of Evidence-Based Mommy.

Heavy metals are naturally present in soil, and crops like rice and vegetables that grow underground tend to take those metals up. That’s true for rice, carrots, or sweet potatoes that are used to make packaged baby food or the ingredients that you buy whole at the store, including organic ones — though rice tends to have more metals than veggies like carrots or sweet potatoes.

Still, it’s certainly worth taking steps to minimize your family’s exposure by going the homemade route when you can. “I would advise cutting back on rice-based snacks and jarred purées that contain rice,” says Nicole Avena, PhD, author of “What To Feed Your Baby and Toddler.”

Plus, Avena says, “When you opt to make purées at home, you have more control over what goes in them.”

Doing the DIY thing doesn’t have to be crazy complicated or time-consuming, either. Here, some smart tips that’ll streamline the process so making your own baby food doesn’t make you insane.

A fancy baby food maker is nice if you happen to have one. But special appliances definitely aren’t a must. All you really need to make yummy food for your little one is the following:

  • Steamer basket or colander for steaming. Place a pot lid over your steamer basket for faster steaming. Try OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Steamer with Extendable Handle.
  • Blender or food processor to purée ingredients. Try the Ninja Mega Kitchen System Blender/Food Processor.
  • Potato masher. Use it as a low-tech alternative to a blender or food processor, or save it to make chunkier purées when your baby gets a little older. Try the KitchenAid Gourmet Stainless Steel Wire Masher.
  • Ice cube trays. They’re the best for freezing individual servings of purées. Buy a bunch so you can freeze several batches of food at once. Try the OMorc Silicone Ice Cube Trays 4-Pack.
  • Large baking sheet. This is useful for freezing finger foods on a flat surface so they don’t stick together in the freezer if they’re stacked up in a bag or container. Try Nordic Ware’s Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker’s Half Sheet.
  • Parchment paper keeps finger foods from sticking to your baking sheets in the freezer.
  • Plastic zip-top baggies can be used for storing frozen purée cubes or finger foods in the freezer.
  • A permanent marker is key for labeling, so you know what’s actually in those baggies.

Sure, those mini mac and cheese cups or turkey meatloaf muffins you saw on Instagram look fun. But you don’t have to expend that kind of effort to feed your baby fresh, homemade food — especially early on.

As your little one is getting the hang of solids, focus on making basic fruit and veggie purées with single ingredients. Over time, you can start combining purées — think peas and carrots, or apple and pear — for more interesting flavor combos.

Remember the world of easy-to-prep finger foods too:

  • quartered hard-boiled eggs
  • sliced banana
  • avocado, lightly mashed
  • sliced berries
  • lightly mashed chickpeas or black beans
  • cubes of baked tofu or cheese
  • shredded roast chicken or turkey
  • cooked ground beef
  • mini muffins or pancakes
  • whole-grain toast strips topped with hummus, ricotta, or a thin layer of nut butter.

Your time is too precious to spend it washing and de-stemming bunches of spinach or peeling and chopping whole butternut squash. Instead, opt for frozen veggies or fruits that you can quickly microwave and pop straight into the blender or food processor with your preferred seasonings.

Save the steaming just for foods that you can’t usually find frozen — like apples, pears, or beets.

As a new parent, you’ve probably gotten pretty efficient at prepping (relatively) healthy meals and snacks for yourself. So apply the same idea for your baby’s food.

Once a week or so, dedicate an hour to prepping big batches of purées or finger foods. Nap time or after your little one has gone to bed is great for this, so you won’t be distracted or interrupted 30 times.

But if you’d rather use your baby’s snooze time to get some extra rest yourself, have your partner or another caregiver take your baby for an hour when they’re awake so you can cook in peace.

Scoop tablespoons of purées into ice cube trays and freeze them, then pop the cubes out and store them in plastic baggies for quick, easy meals.

Making finger foods like muffins or pancakes? Lay them flat on a baking sheet so they don’t get stuck together while they freeze, then bag them up.

And be sure to label each bag so you know exactly what’s inside. Within a few weeks, you’ll have built up a decent freezer stash of food options for your little one. And chances are, without labels you won’t be able to tell those peas from the green beans.

Marygrace Taylor is a health and parenting writer, former KIWI magazine editor, and mom to Eli. Visit her at

6 Things You Might Not Know About Jarred Baby Food — Peasful Kitchen

/ Nicole

One of the most common questions I get asked about baby food is this: “Why should I make my own? Isn’t jarred food the same thing?” The truth is that while the ingredients might read the same as what you’d use to make at home (like carrots and water, for example), there are many major differences that aren’t always so noticeable. These five truths about jarred baby food are truly shocking.

  1. The baby food you’ve purchased may have been sitting on the shelf since before you were even pregnant. The expiration date of jarred baby food is often years away, and to enable that shelf life, jarred baby food is cooked at extremely high temperatures—a process that removes many of the nutrients.
  1. Jarred baby food doesn’t actually taste like what it claims to be. Do this test at home: Remove the label from the jar, and do a taste test to guess what vegetable or fruit you’re eating. Tough, right? That’s because the high temperature processing affects the flavor and texture of the food, making it difficult to differentiate the food by taste alone. As a parent whose goal is to get my kids to eat a diet full of fruits and veggies, giving them a taste of what fruits and veggies really taste like is crucial to start them off on the right track.
  1. Additives are often present. You’ll often see ascorbic or citric acid on the ingredient list of organic and conventional baby foods. When the jars are heated to high temperatures to preserve shelf life, it results in a loss of vitamins and nutrients in the food. To combat this, baby food companies add in artificial forms of vitamin C that come in the names of ascorbic or citric acid so the jars aren’t totally devoid of the nutrients they’re supposed to naturally contain.
  2. BPA is used in many brands to coat the lids of jarred baby food. Metal lids can contain Bisphenol A, which is especially dangerous to infants whose immune systems are weaker and less able to rid the body of toxins. A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that widespread exposure to BPA may result in levels of up to 11 times higher in infants than in adults.
  3. They’re sneaky about sugar. Just because an ingredient label doesn’t read “sugar” doesn’t mean it’s not there. Look for sneaky sources of sugar including any sort of “juice concentrate” which are often added to sweeten up mixed fruit and veggie pouches and jars—even ones labeled as “natural”. Other sneaky sugar sources to seek out: fructose, malt extract, any type of syrup, or any ingredient ending in “ose” like fructose.
  4. They're swimming in pesticides. A recent study of jarred baby food found that one measly jar of peaches contained 22 varieties of pesticides! Apples, pears, and green beans also contained more pesticides per jar than would legally be allowed on the shelves of European grocery stores. (American companies aren’t required to follow strict regulations.)

The bottom line is that when you buy food from a store shelf, it’s impossible to know everything that goes into it, and making your own baby food (and using organic fruits and veggies when available), is THE BEST WAY TO know exactly what’s going into your baby’s belly.


90,000 truth about what's in the ingredients.

- Ekaterina Borisovna, there is a lot of debate about the benefits of baby food from a jar. Let's try to confirm or dispel the myths and tell parents the whole truth about children's canned products.

Myth #1. Baby food in jars is made from vegetables and fruits that are not suitable for sale in their natural form. Raw materials of poor quality underlie it.

- Not true. The production of canned baby food is a complex technological process consisting of several mandatory steps, including a careful selection of raw materials. The quality and safety of baby food initially depends on this. nine0005

When sorting , all vegetables and fruits with any defects are utilized, and a batch of raw materials of uniform quality is formed.
Sorting includes:

  • visual assessment of raw materials;
  • removal of non-standard, unripe, moldy and broken fruits. Grouping by size and weight is not carried out: these indicators do not affect the quality of finished baby food.

When cleaning raw materials , all inedible and low-nutrient parts are removed from fruits and vegetables - the skin, seeds, stalks, the core is removed from apples and pears. Parents can be sure that their baby will receive only the most useful and nutritious. nine0005

Myth No. 2: The quality of baby food in jars is doubtful - it contains a lot of preservatives that are dangerous for babies.

- The inclusion of preservatives in baby food is prohibited by law , at least in our country. But the use of vitamin D or ascorbic acid is allowed. They do not harm babies, but significantly increase the benefits of the product.

- Ekaterina Borisovna, however, it is known that without preservatives, the shelf life of products is reduced. nine0004

— A long shelf life of baby food without preservatives is ensured by aseptic production technology, product sterilization and vacuum packaging, which protects it from harmful microorganisms. The cotton that we hear when opening the jar is an indicator of the correct packaging and safety of the product.

Myth #3. There are other unnatural ingredients in canned food without preservatives that can be harmful to a child's health. nine0008

- The complete composition of baby food must be clearly stated on the packaging by the manufacturer. Corn starch or rice flour can be added as safe thickeners to give the desired consistency. But the range of children's canned food allows you to choose products without these additives. The presence of spices is not forbidden, but their list is limited and strictly regulated.

technological substances to impart aroma and enhance color and taste.

Myth #4. Flavor enhancers are added to canned food, otherwise children refuse to eat it.

- Production technologies allow extracting the maximum of useful elements from raw materials and at the same time preserving its taste. For example, , in order not to destroy biologically active substances, raw materials for baby puree are not boiled , but in order to obtain a delicate texture and not spoil the taste, it is wiped in special mashing machines in an atmosphere of steam or inert gases. Such subtleties of production explain the unique taste of canned puree, which you cannot get at home on your own. nine0005

Read also
  • how to introduce puree into complementary foods

Myth #5. Canned baby food is expensive and costs parents more than homemade purees.

- Seasonal harvest is inexpensive, making mashed potatoes seems like an elementary task. But there are few fruits of our own in our country. Harvesting a year in advance is a difficult and costly business (you will need a capacious freezer). Preserving vegetables is even more difficult, you need at least a basement. In addition, the amount of vitamins with this method of harvesting decreases in proportion to the storage time (autumn apples lose most of their useful properties by spring). nine0005

— Fruit and vegetable sections are filled in stores all year round.

Yes, but children need variety in their diet. Today an apple, tomorrow a pear, the day after tomorrow an apricot. For example, to prepare 100 g of apricot puree, you will need at least 300 g of apricots without peel and stone. For the price, this is comparable to the price of a jar, but you still need time to buy and cook.

And the most important thing is safety. At the plant, raw materials for baby food are thoroughly tested for the content of toxic substances. The standards for the content of pesticides, nitrates and other chemical additives for sale in the store are different, and no one guarantees that the zucchini bought from the grandmother on the market did not grow in the zone of increased radiation or was not fed with nitrogenous fertilizers. Therefore industrial canned puree is safer than , and at a price that's about what it comes out to be.

Myth #6.
There are few vitamins and nutrients in a jar of complementary foods, as they are destroyed during the conservation process.

- Vegetables and fruits are full of healthy nutrients during the harvest season. But during long-term storage, they lose almost everything except fiber and starch. In addition to this, the fruits are irrevocably destroyed during heat treatment at home - for example, during cooking, up to 20% of vitamin B and more than 50% of ascorbic acid are lost.

The picture is quite different in the factory production of complementary foods, when the useful properties of the raw materials are preserved to the maximum. In addition, complementary foods can be additionally saturated with vitamins and trace elements. Food packaging always indicates their presence and the percentage of the daily dose.

Myth #7. Eating complementary foods from a jar provokes the development of allergies. nine0008

- The risk of developing an allergic reaction to food in a jar is no higher than to food prepared by oneself. If a child is allergic to pumpkin, then boiled, steamed and canned, there will be a reaction to it. Another question is that an auxiliary component of canned puree (for example, starch or ascorbic acid) can cause allergies. In this case, it is safer to choose products without such additives.

Often confused with allergies food intolerance . The symptoms are similar, but the reasons for the latter lie in non-compliance with the rules of complementary foods (for example, they gave a new product ahead of schedule or immediately in large quantities). Without knowing it, mothers expose the child's body to excessive stress when the baby's enzyme system is not yet ready to process the edible "gift". For this reason, the child's body becomes covered with a rash, problems with the tummy, regurgitation and other delights appear.

Complementary foods: what you need to know

  • It is worth trying a new product in small quantities.
  • The daily dose is increased gradually.
  • Red cheeks, rashes on the arms and under the knees - a reason to exclude the product from the child's diet and consult a doctor.

Myth #8. There are many counterfeits of baby food on the market, and products of well-known brands are more often counterfeited. Parents in the store will not be able to distinguish a fake from the original.

— Control over the quality of nutrition for children is multifaceted and is carried out at all stages - from the procurement of raw materials to the sale in the store. Compliance with safety standards during production and storage, the usefulness of the product in terms of protein, carbohydrate and fat components, the concentration of vitamin elements and other components declared on the package are monitored. Organoleptic testing determines the quality of products by taste, aroma, appearance, consistency.

Unfortunately, despite the fairly strict control, information about reviews from the sale of low-quality baby food periodically pops up. Probably, this cannot be avoided, as well as the falsification of medicines and other goods. But you can protect yourself as much as possible from acquiring fakes. nine0005

How to choose quality baby food in jars

  • It is better to buy food in large specialized stores, pharmacies.
  • Consider value for money. If the price is significantly lower than usual, do not rush to buy an annual supply, study the composition and the certificate of conformity for the product.
  • Carefully inspect the package. Do not take a damaged package with traces of worn paint, smeared or blurry letters, a swollen or crumpled jar. nine0021
  • Always try a new product before giving it to a child. You can easily distinguish changes in taste, smell, texture.

Myth #9. Manufacturers add starch to thickening canned food, but they do not always report this on the packaging. It's true? And will the iodine test show the presence of starch?

- In stores, a fairly wide range of baby purees with and without the addition of starch. A significant component of starch is glucose , the main source of our vital energy. Starch is often a natural product. In nature, there are many plants and products from which starch can be extracted: potato, corn, rice and wheat are widely known.

The debate about the dangers or benefits of starch can go on forever. Children are able to absorb starch from birth, it's all about its volume. A small amount of thickener in baby food will be absorbed by the child. Harmful daily proportion of starch - from 30 g.

Starch is included in 90% of the food that a person consumes in everyday life. You should not be afraid of it, but you need to be careful, because starch:

  • in case of excessive use and individual tendency causes constipation;
  • is capable of provoking an allergic reaction;
  • increases the calorie content of food and promotes weight gain;
  • contains a lot of carbohydrates, but is useless as a source of vitamins. nine0021

Therefore, if a child has a tendency to allergic reactions, overweight or constipation, you should not use food with the addition of starch. Children with underweight or unstable stools may well try it.

Reaction with iodine - a qualitative reaction to starch with the formation of a dark blue spot. This is a really affordable method of checking baby food. But before using it, you should study which products contain starch. It is possible that a positive reaction will not be on an artificially added component, but on natural starch. A lot of natural starch in potatoes, corn, legumes, carrots, zucchini, pumpkin, banana and unripe apples. And it is natural that the reaction with iodine in the puree of these products will be positive. But in the composition of mashed broccoli or white cabbage, starch should not be, unless the manufacturer specifically added it. nine0005

Myth #10. The child gets used to eating from a jar and for a long time refuses the "adult" table.

- Opposite. Children in infancy and under 18 months are not allowed to give sugar, salt, seasonings and spices. Therefore, until the mother has included these “adult” supplements in her child’s diet, purchased food will remain his favorite food. But having tried salty or sweet once, the baby begins to demand a new product and refuse fresh canned food. nine0005

A child and an adult have a different perception of tastes. Therefore, you can not give the baby a dish that you like to taste, sweeten and add salt to food. When the time comes and the child is ready to receive products close to the common table, he himself will gladly refuse fresh jars, trying more and more new tastes.

— Ekaterina Borisovna, can canned baby food completely replace homemade baby food?

- Of course, and quite successfully. Regardless of the season, it is possible to provide the baby with a complete and varied diet only with the help of canned food. Yes, and it is impossible to repeat the taste of factory food on your own due to the special manufacturing technology. In addition, despite the fact that the assortment of fruits and vegetables in the store is quite large even in winter, their taste and useful properties, and most importantly, safety, are very doubtful. Of course, it is worth remembering about the time that a mother can devote to a baby, instead of puzzling over the variety of menus and cooking. nine0005

— Why are MAMAKO ® baby purees good for children? What are their advantages?

— Very often, kids get bored with the taste of monocomponent puree, and not everyone eats cottage cheese willingly either. Puree MAMAKO ® consists of fruits and tender goat curd without thickeners, preservatives or other artificial additives. Such a puree with a delicate creamy taste can be introduced into the diet from 6 months, it is more nutritious and serves as an additional source of calcium, which is necessary during the period of intensive growth. Therefore, along with monocomponent purees, I always recommend including such interesting, and most importantly - without sugar and thickeners, healthy products in the child's diet. nine0005

I would like to once again appeal to young parents - be above prejudice. Canned food is simple, convenient, useful and safe. We all use the achievements of progress for our comfort: cellular communications, microwave ovens, all kinds of gadgets have firmly entered our lives. So industrial baby food was created for the convenience of young parents. It is developed taking into account the physiological needs of the baby, meets all safety requirements and contains more useful nutrients due to gentle heat treatment than puree cooked at home from untested vegetables and fruits. nine0005

Baby food - from a jar or do-it-yourself? Pros and cons

Complementary foods are solid foods for young children in addition to dairy products that they have received for several months as their sole source of nutrition.

— Polina Alexandrovna, why is the introduction of complementary foods called a transitional stage in a child's nutrition?

— The beginning of acquaintance with complementary foods does not mean the transition to an adult diet. The first or second complementary foods are important so that the child adapts and is psychologically ready to eat adult food, and his digestive organs are tuned to work properly. Therefore, complementary foods are considered a transitional stage from milk nutrition to nutrition at a common table. nine0005

- Does the composition of the canned zucchini or apple puree for babies differ from the homemade version?

- Factory nutrition may vary depending on the raw materials that the manufacturer uses in a particular puree. Therefore, it is impossible to say that all such food is the same. For example, zucchini puree may contain rice flour so that its consistency is more correct in the opinion of the manufacturer. Mom decides what to put in, and in the same way she can add rice flour. An industrial puree that is suitable for a child and meets the requirements of parents may be identical in composition to homemade puree. nine0005

— There is a lot of speculation about baby food in jars. What are the most common parenting misconceptions?

- The most common myth is "canned puree doesn't taste good and kids don't eat it well." In fact, most babies enjoy eating factory-made purees without experiencing any problems.

There are concerns that baby puree is “wrong” or does not meet nutritional requirements. The manufacturer is required by law to list all the ingredients of the product. For example, mashed potatoes may contain rice flour that is not always healthy, especially if vegetables are introduced to the child in order to avoid constipation. What kind of food is more useful for the baby, whether to buy just such a puree or look for another in composition - the parents decide together with the doctor. Therefore, it is wrong to equate all manufacturers and their products. nine0005

See also
  • "10 myths about canned baby food"

- Puree is often said to contain preservatives.

— Modern technologies make it possible not to use preservatives in the production of baby food. That is why it is written on the jars that open food is not stored for more than a day even in the refrigerator. As long as puree does not come into contact with air, it does not spoil within the specified shelf life due to sterilization and vacuum packaging. After opening the jar and contact with air, the puree quickly deteriorates, which indicates the absence of preservatives in it. nine0005

— Is it true that canned baby food is addictive, and then the child refuses natural products?

- There is no causal relationship here. When a child refuses a fresh apple, the problem is not the canned puree in his diet, but that he is not familiar with food in pieces. The child ate a homogeneous puree for a long time, and then they offer him a large piece of an apple - naturally, he will not cope with it right away. That is why, after the child gets used to a homogeneous puree, puree with soft small pieces is gradually introduced - so that there is no discomfort if the baby does not chew them. Gradually, the pieces become larger and denser. Over time, the child comes to eat a real whole apple or other hard fruit or vegetable. nine0005

Baby food in a jar or homemade puree - which is right for a baby? Pros and Cons of

— How long can I feed my baby bottled baby food?

- You can feed your baby as much as you like, there is no strict age limit. But child needs to be introduced to different textures and flavors . The need for canned food usually disappears when the baby moves to a common table with a diet familiar to the whole family. During this period, puree from a jar, especially tasty and sweet fruit varieties, often becomes a safe treat for grown-up babies. nine0005

— In which cases canned baby puree is contraindicated?

- There are no diseases in which canned puree is contraindicated. But for some diseases, the presence of a particular product in baby food is undesirable. Factory puree is different in composition. Parents can choose purees without ingredients that are not suitable for the baby or should be limited in his diet, and continue to feed the canned product without problems.

— How to choose baby food in a jar that is healthy for a child? nine0004

- First of all, you need to read the full composition of the product on the back, because some ingredients are not indicated on the front label of the jar. It is important to pay attention to the expiration date of the food, the reputation of the manufacturer. All components of the puree must correspond to the age and condition of the child, his individual characteristics.

For example:

  • the first puree must not contain rice flour;
  • Strawberry puree should not be given to a child at four months of age; nine0021
  • cereals are excluded from the diet of children with celiac disease (gluten intolerance);
  • An older baby should be offered puree with chunks.

What mistakes do parents make when preparing puree for feeding with their own hands

- Sometimes parents cook the wrong way - sometimes they overcook vegetables, and also make the puree too thin or thick. I hope that no one will fry food for their young children instead of boiling or steaming. Sometimes parents put spices and salt in baby puree, which is also not worth doing. The child should initially get acquainted with pure tastes, and extraneous additives are useless. nine0005

In addition, mothers need to be guided by foods that are appropriate for the age of the child, do not cause allergies and are not difficult for him, and also be guided by what the family eats. If parents give the baby something that they themselves do not eat, then when switching to an adult table, he may refuse the usual family food, he will have to cook it separately. This will be a big problem.

- The child refuses the food prepared by the mother and does not eat anything. What to do in such a situation? nine0004

- The same food or dish can be offered to the child during the week. Food selectivity in children often depends on taste sensations, but a child may refuse to eat for other reasons, for example, when he is not hungry or would like to play instead of dinner. If during the week the child does not perceive the product that the mother offers, perhaps he still does not like it. In this case, the same product can be tried in the form of canned nutrition . Often, kids really refuse homemade puree, preferring the factory version. Again, mom can cook another product and give, for example, broccoli instead of zucchini, which the child will appreciate. nine0005

Fruit baby puree MAMAKO ® contains 20% goat curd. This food option is convenient at the stage of introducing children not only to fruits, but also to dairy products. It is the little ones who eat sweet, tasty foods well during the first feeding period and even when they get older - for dessert.

- Are the recipes for complementary foods from 6 months and those for 10 months different?

- For toddlers, there are no recipes and complex dishes, because it is a simple food for discovering pure tastes without salt and spices, gradually getting used to the texture of the products. In the preparation of the first children's dishes, you can vary the combination of vegetables, focusing on the taste of the baby. nine0005

Recipes appear from the age of two or three with a full transition to the common table, when family preferences become more important. Of course, the baby needs to be introduced to products that are not consumed in the family, because there is a kindergarten and a school ahead. However, the basis of his diet should be food from the common household table . In addition, parents should be careful in cooking: do not overcook foods, do not add artificial ingredients, properly cool food so that homemade vegetable or fruit puree for the first feeding is healthy and safe for the baby. nine0005

- Is it possible to combine canned and homemade food and in what proportions?

— There are no strict rules: what is convenient for the family is chosen. For example, it is difficult to make meat puree at home, so sometimes parents add industrial meat supplements to homemade vegetable puree.

There is also no clear gradation in the percentage of different food options. In one plate, you can mix what you have prepared yourself with what you bought in the store. But at home it is not always possible to achieve the desired combinations and prepare, for example, a combined product that includes a variety of fruits and cottage cheese. nine0005

Choose a way of eating that is comfortable for your family. It is easier for someone to cook for their child on their own, for someone it is easier to buy ready-made mashed potatoes. Pediatricians often recommend mashed vegetables or fruits of industrial production, because when it is used for a child, the risk of undesirable consequences is much less.

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