Food Additives May be Particularly Harmful to Children

Staff Writer
Baystateparent Magazine

In an analysis of 10,000 chemicals that the FDA allows in food processing, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) called current food additive requirements “insufficient”– urging more stringent regulations to better protect youth in a recent report in Pediatrics.

The chemical additives, which are used to to preserve food or modify how it looks or tastes, can be especially dangerous for children because of their still developing bodies. Their systems can be severely affected by toxic levels of exposure to these chemicals, the AAP said, possibly disrupting puberty and fertility, or contributing to obesity.

The report highlighted five chemical groups of concern: bisphenols (such as BPA), which line metal cans and are mixed into plastics; phthalates (which make plastic soft); perfluoroalkyl chemicals (or PFCs, which are found in grease-proof wrappers and packaging); perchlorate (found in food packaging); and nitrates/nitrites (curing agents found in some meats).

These chemicals affect the health of all humans, but can have a particularly strong effect in children, said the AAP. According to the study, children are particularly susceptible, “given that they have higher relative exposures compared with adults (because of greater dietary intake per pound), their metabolic (ie, detoxification) systems are still developing, and key organ systems are undergoing substantial changes and maturation that are vulnerable to disruptions.”

In addition to calling for tighter regulations by the FDA, the AAP said parents can limit their child’s exposure to these chemicals by choosing fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables over canned, avoiding processed meats, not microwaving plastic containers of food, and not putting plastics in the dishwasher.