The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a new policy statement regarding child health concerns associated with food additives. According to the AAP, improvements to the current regulatory process for food additives are urgently needed as recent studies suggest many of these chemicals have been linked to endocrine system disruption and other adverse health effects.

Specifically for healthcare professionals, the AAP recommends the following guidance be relayed to patients and caregivers, recognizing that barriers may exist for low-income families:

  • Prioritize consumption of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables when possible, and support that effort by developing a list of low-cost sources for fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid processed meats, especially maternal consumption during pregnancy.
  • Avoid microwaving food or beverages in plastic, if possible.
  • Avoid placing plastics in the dishwasher.
  • Use alternatives to plastic, such as glass or stainless steel, when possible.
  • Look at the recycling code at the bottom of products to find the plastic type, and avoid plastics with recycling codes 3, 6, and 7 unless plastics are labeled as “biobased” or “greenware” indicating that they are made from corn and do not contain bisphenols.
  • Encourage hand-washing before handling foods and/or drinks, and wash all fruits and vegetables that cannot be peeled.

Among other recommendations, the AAP writes that the Food and Drug Administration should establish requirements for prioritization and retesting of previously approved chemicals, as well as establish requirements for labeling of additives with limited or no toxicity data and those not reviewed for safety.

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The authors conclude that “To aid in this process, the pediatrician community should come together on these issues to advocate for the protection of children’s health.”

A summary of food-related uses and health concerns for the compounds discussed in this statement can be found here.

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This article originally appeared on MPR