A PALEO diet baby cookbook co-authored by celebrity chef Pete Evans has been recalled after public health officials warned its recipes could potentially result in infants dying.
The Weekly Online has learned publishers Pan Macmillan have held back release of Bubba Yum Yum: The Paleo Way For New Mums, Babies and Toddlers – following intervention by a consortium of health organisations that expressed grave concerns over the book's DIY baby milk formula, based on liver and bone broth.
"In my view, there's a very real possibility that a baby may die if this book goes ahead," Professor Heather Yeatman, president of the Public Health Association of Australia, told The Weekly online.
"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."
So grave are health officials' fears over the potential health ramifications of the DIY formula that the Federal Government's Department of Health has been alerted to it.
Experts warn it contains more than ten times the safe maximum daily intake of vitamin A for babies and inadequate levels of other nutrients.
"The Department of Health has been closely scrutinizing this diet and book," a spokeswoman said.
The department is "concerned about the inadequate nutritional values of some of the foods, in particular for infants, and is investigating further."
The cookbook is co-authored by influential Channel 7 My Kitchen Rules judge and Paleo advocate Pete Evans, baby recipe blogger Charlotte Carr and naturopath Helen Padarin. None have medical qualifications.
The book was due to be published by Pan MacMillan this Friday (March 13).
But health officials claim that it would be negligent of the publishers to release the book, which they say also flouts national health guidelines by including runny eggs and added salt in recipes for young babies.
They are concerned that celebrity endorsement may give the DIY baby formula extra credibility in the eyes of new mums.
Pan MacMillan stands to take a big financial hit if the book is pulped. Pete Evans is currently one of its best-selling authors, with previous titles Family Food and Healthy Every Day reaching number one in the Australian book charts.
Under the Paleo diet, all grains, dairy and pulses are banned. While adults can choose to follow such a diet, Prof Yeatman says it isn't fair to subject a baby to what she characterises as an unproven set of beliefs.
"That's the really troubling thing: the infant is totally at the whim of their parents when it comes to feeding," she says. "If the wrong decision is made, they may be seriously affected."
Paleo advocate Pete Evans has more than 780,000 Likes on his Facebook page, which includes many personal testimonials from fans. He describes his current national speaking tour as "spreading the medicine".
In his foreword to the book, he implies that the Paleo diet may help prevent autism, birth defects, behavioural disorders, digestive disorders, rashes and asthma.
According to the World Health Organisation, the only safe alternative to breast milk for young babies is commercial formula.
Health officials warn the recipe for baby bone broth formula, which also includes oils and a probiotic supplement, could potentiallycause a vitamin A overdose in infants, the symptoms of which include loss of appetite, dry skin, hair loss, bone pain, fissures in the corners of the mouth and failure to thrive.
A disclaimer in the back of Bubba Yum Yum: The Paleo Way For Mums, Babies and Toddlers states, "Although we in good faith believe that the information provided will help you live a healthier life, relying on the information contained in this publication may not give you the results you desire or may cause negative health consequences."
Co-author Charlotte Carr used the DIY baby milk formula recipe on recommendation of a naturopath with her own son in response to his health problems, including sensory processing issues and a compromised gut and immune system. She didn't want to use commercial formula because of worries about ingredients.