Meng warns chemicals in food may harm kids

Following a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics that said chemicals in processed food could be dangerous for children, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng is urging the FDA to consider implementing the report’s recommendations.
Photo by Paul T. Erickson/AP
By Carlotta Mohamed

Following a July report from the American Academy of Pediatrics citing chemicals in processed food, Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) wants the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to address the threat food additives pose to infants and children.

Meng sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb Aug. 2 to review the report “Food Additives and Child Health” and make the needed regulatory changes that would ensure the additives are safe for kids.

“Nothing is more important than the safety of our kids,” said Meng. “As co-chair of the Congressional Kids’ Safety Caucus and as the mother of two young boys, I am gravely concerned that American families and children are unknowingly exposed to chemicals that may cause them harm.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, today more than 10,000 chemicals are allowed to be added to food and food contact materials in the United States either directly or indirectly under the 1958 Food Additives Amendment to the 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Chemicals– that may contribute to disease and disability — deliberately added to food during processing (direct food additives) as well as substances in food contact materials such as adhesives, dyes, coatings, paper, paperboard, plastic, and other polymers may contaminate food as part of packaging or manufacturing equipment (indirect food additives), the academy said.

The academy found that additional compounds of concern discussed in the report include artificial food colors, nitrates and nitrites. Artificial food colors may be associated with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms, and nitrates and nitrites can interfere with thyroid hormone production.

Food additives can also cause other disruptive issues, such as organ development, the report said.

“I concur with the academy when it states that the potential for endocrine system disruption posed by food additives is of great concern, especially in early life, when developmental programming of organ systems is susceptible to permanent and lifelong disruption,” Meng’s letter said.

The academy has suggested recommendations to the current regulatory process at the FDA for food additives. Its policies include: strengthening/replacing the “generally recognized as safe” determination process, updating the Scientific Foundation of the FDA’s safety assessment program, retesting all previously approved chemicals, and labeling direct additives with limited or no toxicity to date

Meng said she strongly supports the academy’s recommendations and is committed to ensuring that every American child and family is protected from unknowingly consuming chemicals that may cause them harm.

Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmohamed@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4526.

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