One of the most significant debates in the Feeding Tube Community is what food is best for patients with feeding tubes. Over the past decade, the market has exploded with formula and real food options that are available for consumption.
Many parents have also decided to blend food at home. They use ingredients at home and created blended purees for their children. There has been a lot of debate on if blended diets should replace liquid-based formulas.
As a parent of a tube fed child, I have found myself in the middle of these debates confused and frustrated. I see value in both options, but I never know what is best for anyone.
We have tried numerous premade liquid formulas, premade blended foods, and homemade blended food. We have had a lot of bumps in the road finding a product that works.
When we realized he had a severe medical issue that made digestion difficult, we realized we needed to find an easy to digest product.
In April, he started using a formula made by Kate Farms called Core Essentials by the recommendation of our dietician.
I selected this option because the ingredients were limited, derived from plant sources that were easy to digest, and it was low in fat and fiber (both of which are hard for my son to absorb).
Since being on Kate Farms Core Essentials, feedings have gone really well. He tolerates the food, he’s growing, and the pain he had associated with real food has all but disappeared.
I’m saddened he can’t tolerate real food options, but I accept his body needs a formula that is more broken down and easy to digest.
Imagine my surprise when I learned products made by Kate Farms have come under fire. There was a lot of chatter within the feeding tube community about their formula, possible lead contamination, and the ingredients that are used in the formulas.
The biggest issue at heart for many individuals was their perception of how the food is marketed. Many people believe Kate Farms is selling itself as a blended food option, and feel deceived when they read the ingredients on the bottle.
There is also concern about a lawsuit filed against Kate Farms by a private entity regarding Lead Levels in their products.
You can read more about the lawsuit here:
As a parent, I was worried I was giving my child a safe alternative, and I was concerned the ingredient levels were not marketed appropriately. However, knowing that information obtained in community groups can often be misleading, I decided I needed to reach out to Kate Farms on my own.
I asked them to clarify the lawsuit and if their products were safe:
“We are happy to report that Kate Farms products are in compliance with Prop 65 in California. Our products are perfectly safe and always have been!
In early 2018, a private entity claimed the State of California that Kate Farms products contained levels of heavy metals above the threshold allowed by Prop 65.
What the private entity did not consider was that the trace amounts of heavy metals in Kate Farms products are completely naturally occurring.
Virtually all plant-based products have some level of heavy metals absorbed from the earth; the amounts are very low (significantly below levels that indicate a problem). (Food Contaminants Adulteration).
Because of this, Kate Farms was able to resolve the Prop 65 notice with the private entity and the State of California.
Kate Farms makes every effort to procure the safest, highest quality ingredients from domestic, organic sources. Each ingredient is tested for safety and potential contaminants by certified testing centers.
Our products exceed all standards for food safety (including lead and other heavy metals) imposed by FDA, USDA, EU and the World Health Organization.
- Mia Greenstein, Director of Customer Care”
I also asked them to respond to criticism from parents that their formula was not natural and not a good alternative to a blended food diet.
Kate Farm’s response to the criticism,
“We are completely in support of a blended food diet for those who can tolerate it. But, as you know well, sometimes we can’t tolerate whole foods and need the most absorbable form of the real foods in a formula that is easy on the tummy.”
As I continued my dialogue with Kate Farms, it became clear to me that their goal is not to be the blended food option.
Kate Farms wants to provide an alternative to formulas that are derived from synthetic properties.
Next, I wanted to address the use of Brown Rice Syrup as a primary ingredient. Some parents do not want their children to have any sugar. While others need their children to use a formula that contains easy to digest carbohydrate.
Is Brown Rice Syrup Bad?
There are positive and negatives for Brown Rice Syrup.
Because of the high Glycemic Index of Brown Sugar, it can affect individuals that have trouble managing their blood sugar. It is not recommended for individuals that have diabetes.
Brown rice syrup contains glucose, maltrose, and malt sugar. Glucose enters the blood stream almost immediately, but the maltrose and malt sugar take up to 1.5 hours for the body to digest. The complex carbohydrates in brown rice sugar take up to 3 hours to digest.
While there is an immediate spike in sugar from the glucose, the maltrose and malt sugar enter sugar more steadily into the body. This can help the body maintain sugar levels and reduce cravings for additional sugar.
Nutritional information consists of 1 gram of protein, 31 carbohydrates (25 from sugar and 6 grams from startch), 30 miligrams of Sodium, and there is no fat or cholesterol.
Brown Rice Syrup is easy to digest carbohydrate that is ideal for individuals that may have issues with digesting more complex carbohydrates. Sugar is not an ideal source of carbohydrates, but for many people with gastrointestinal diseases these are easier for them to digest.
If you are a parent that wants a formula that has less sugar, this would not be the option for you.
Kate Farms contains other ingredients outside of Brown Rice Syrup. Protein sources are derived from Organic Pea Protein and Organic Rice Protein.
Organic pea protein is a complete protein that is easy to digest, is slower to digest, filling, and is effective for building and maintaining muscle mass.
When pea protein paste is produced, antinutrients that interfere with absorption are removed. Thus this protein is easy to digest with minimal disruption to the digestive tract.
Pea allergies are very rare, and this protein source is often recommended for individuals with soy and dairy allergies.
Organic Rice Protein provides essential amino acids, vitamins B and E, carbohydrates, and fiber. Rice protein has no fat, cholesterol, sugar, or sodium.
This protein is hypoallergenic. Rice protein will not irritate the stomach and is easier to digest than other forms of protein.
Proteins that are hypogallergenic are ideal for people with sensitive digestive tracts, and who have food allergies to soy or milk.
While Brown Rice Syrup is a primary ingredient, the formula is balanced out by proteins that are easy to digest and also provide complex carbohydrates.
What I’ve learned is that Kate Farms is who they market themselves to be. They have created a formula that contains ingredients that are easier to digest, that are not synthetic, and derive from plants and fruits.
I’ve also found no evidence that they claim to be a blended diet. They do reference how Kate Farms started in their kitchen with real ingredients, and they initially made meal replacement shakes. This is not the same as marketing themselves as blended food.
Regarding safety, Kate Farms is complaint with The State of California and is regulated by the FDA.
Before choosing to use any formula work with your child’s doctor and dietician.
Read and understand the ingredients listed on the containers, and determine if the product is best suited for your child.
Overall I found little supporting evidence that the company aims to deceive parents, the food is safe for consumption, they are forthright in their choice of ingredients, and the ingredients are from food sources not synthetically made.
Kate Farms can work wonderfully for patients that need easy to digest ingredients and want ingredients to come from plant-based sources.
No matter what you pick for your child, whether it’s formula or blending at home, you are doing the best for your child. Always remember that no matter what:
Fed is Best
This is not a paid endorsement by Kate Farms.