Food supplements, how safe is it for children?
An official announcement from the American Pediatric Academy states that more information is needed on the impact of food additives on the American food market.
It is worth mentioning that many of the chemical additives currently in the food supply have not been tested yet, while others have not been tested on endocrine disorders or the effects they may have on brain development and their effect on general health of children is still unknown.
Children are even more sensitive to the effects of these compounds (due to higher intakes of these supplements per kilo of body weight than adults) and their metabolism. In addition, many organ systems are still in progress and are susceptible to disturbances, the authors of the technical report report, while stressing that food contact substances that are associated with endocrine disruptors in early life are particularly worrying when development planning of the various organs are prone to permanent dysfunctions. Endocrine disorders, tendency to develop obesity, immunosuppression, cardiotoxicity and reduced birth weight were identified as the most important effects. These additives include chemicals added to either the wrapping or packaging materials or to the food itself.
The types of additives most concerned, based on the data summarized in the report are: Bisphenols: Used for the manufacture of plastic containers and food containers and drinks. These compounds have been associated with endocrine and neurodevelopmental disorders and obesity, with changes in puberty as well as decreased fertility and impaired neurological and immunological development.
Phthalates: Used as components of plastic wrappers; plastic tubing and containers and have been accused of involvement in endocrine disorder and obesity.
Perfluoroalkyl chemicals: These chemicals are used in manufacture of paper and cardboard packaging. They have been associated with immunosuppression, endocrine disorder such as thyroid disorder and reduced birth weight.
Hyperchlorite: Often added to plastic dry food packaging for control of static electricity. Perchlorate has been shown to disrupt thyroid hormone production, with implications for subsequent cognitive function.
Nitrates and nitrites: Used as immediate food additives and more in particular as preservatives and color enhancers in processed meats, fish and cheeses. In 2006, the International Cancer Research Organization classified these compounds as potential carcinogens.
Artificial food colors: They are often added to products that attract them children (eg juices). Some studies have shown the association of these compounds with an increased risk of hyperactivity disorder and lack of attention.
Consumers should take simple steps to limit their exposure to these associations. Such steps include eating more fresh fruit and vegetables, limiting the intake of processed meat, and avoiding consumption of food or liquids contained in plastic containers as the additives can be transferred to the product when the packages are heated. Therefore, the placement of plastic containers in the dishwasher is also not recommended. Pediatricians can also recommend patients and their families to avoid certain types of plastic because they contain specific additives. It would be advisable to examine the recycling code at the bottom of the products and to avoid plastics with recycling codes 3 (phthalates), 6 (styrene) and 7 (bisphenols), unless the plastics indicate that they are biodegradable.