Pete Evans paleo for kids cookbook put on hold amid health concerns

Celebrity chef Evans: book was marketed as a ‘treasure trove of nutritional information and nourishing paleo recipes guaranteed to put you and your little one on the path to optimum health’. Photograph: AAP/Seven Network

A cookbook which promotes a restrictive diet for babies and toddlers has been described as potentially deadly, prompting publishers to delay its launch.

The Bubba Yum Yum cookbook, authored by celebrity chef Pete Evans, blogger Charlotte Carr and naturopath Helen Padarin is marketed as “a treasure trove of nutritional information and nourishing paleo recipes that are guaranteed to put you and your little one on the path to optimum health”.

But Heather Yeatman, president of the Public Health Association of Australia, said a recipe for DIY baby milk formula, made from liver and bone broth, contained 10 times the maximum safe daily intake of vitamin A for babies.

“In my view, there’s a very real possibility that a baby may die if this book goes ahead,” Yeatman told the Women’s Weekly.

“Especially if [the DIY formula] was the only food a parent was feeding their infant, it’s a very real risk. And [I consider that] the baby’s growth and development could be impaired.”

Yeatman told Guardian Australia it was also important that mothers received the best advice when it came to feeding their babies.

“The World Health Organisation and the [federal] Department of Health support breast feeding for at least the first six months of life, and for those who can’t breastfeed, then [commercial] infant formulas have been designed based on research and evidence as an appropriate alternative,” she said.

“If you go past this advice it’s potentially dangerous, and we need to support new mums in getting good advice for their child during this critical first six months of their life.”

The paleo diet was not consistent with Australian dietary guidelines for adults or children, she said.

All of the recipes in the book exclude gluten and dairy, with paleo diet proponents shunning any foods not also eaten by the early ancestors of humans, such as grains and processed foods.

The book was set to be launched on Friday but on Thursday its publisher, Pan MacMillan, announced its release was being delayed.

“Pan Macmillan Australia advises the publication of Bubba Yum Yum: The Paleo Way has been delayed and not recalled, as incorrectly stated by Australian Women’s Weekly,” a spokeswoman said.

“The publisher will be making no further comment at this time.”

A spokeswoman for the federal health department said the government had concerns about the inadequate nutritional value of some of the recipes, “in particular the infant formula”. The department was consulting with experts and was continuing to investigate the book, she said.

Guardian Australia has contacted the book’s authors for comment.

Tim Gill, professor of public health and nutrition with the University of Sydney’s Boden Institute of Obesity, said banning major food groups from a diet, especially a child’s diet, was “not logical”. He said he would not recommend parents base their infant or toddler’s diet entirely on paleo.

“One of the most important things about a child’s diet is getting them to experience as many different tastes, textures and components of food as possible,” Gill said. “It is important to set children up to accept a range of foods, and a restrictive diet is counterproductive to that.

“So while I would be concerned that kids aren’t getting all the right nutrients from this diet, I’m equally concerned about them not being exposed to food as an important and enjoyable component of life.”

The only foods that should be restricted for children were those that were highly processed and laden with sugar, he said.

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