Have you taken time looking at the ingredients label on food products? Well, there would be a good chance that you’ll find some words you are not familiar with. High-fructose corn syrup and nitrates are some of the bad ingredients the grab a lot of headlines. Though there are other unfamiliar ingredients near the bottom of the ingredients list, many people simply shrug it off and assume the product contains so little of the ingredient in question that it won’t make a big difference.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warned that aside from the common food additives in foods, packaging also deserves closer scrutiny. According to the released policy statement and report of AAP, many of these additives have harmful effects on people’s health, wherein children are especially vulnerable.
The food we eat may contain more than 10,000 chemicals, thereby it simply isn’t practical to expect anyone to be able to separate the good from the bad. The report specified a few groups including PFCs, BPA, nitrates, phthalates, and artificial food colorings.
These chemicals have dangerous effects on the endocrine system. Exposure to PFC could result in a low birth weight and damage a developing fetus. Bisphenols and phthalates negatively affect puberty or advance its onset, increase the risk of infertility, obesity, and other chronic conditions. Meanwhile, nitrates are linked to some types of cancer.
Some food colorings are synthesized from petroleum and coal tar products. They are even bound to aluminum, which is a neurotoxin. A total of 810 grocery store products marketed to children were analyzed by experts and found that 43% of the products contained artificial coloring.
Artificial food colors have been linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and they also affect children who do not have ADHD. Aside from this, it can also cause sleep disorders, irritability, immune reactivity, and aggression. Daily intake of these food colorings has been linked to stronger negative effects.
Look Out For Indirect Contamination, Too
Some chemicals are indirectly added to food via the dyes, paper, adhesives, polymers, and coatings used in packaging and manufacturing equipment. Some of the culprits include the bisphenol lining metal cans, the phthalates used in adhesives and plasticizers, and packaging chemicals. These chemicals have been associated with issues like cardiotoxicity, endocrine problems, cancer, oxidative stress, and thyroid disruption.
Children are more vulnerable to the disruptions caused by these chemicals because their organs are not yet fully developed. These disruptions may cause long-term damage. Moreover, in terms of dietary intake per pound, the relative exposure of children is greater than that of adults.
The American Academy of Pediatrics urged for a more strict process for obtaining the “Generally Recognized as Safe” label, including the new requirements to test ingredients for toxicity before use and distribution and also to re-test chemicals that were previously approved.
As much as possible, the AAP recommends sticking to fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. They also warned against putting plastic food containers in the dishwasher or microwave. They emphasized that it’s still best to avoid plastic entirely to further prevent being exposed to chemicals.