Here’s something to think about as you wheel your grocery cart up and down the supermarket aisles: Snack foods marketed to children in the United States can contain anything from cancer-causing artificial color all the way to petroleum products. Yes, petroleum – the same ingredient in oil and gas.
Snack foods for kids are frequently colored with the artificial food dyes Yellow #5 and Red #40. These are made from petroleum, and they are known to be dangerous. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gives them a pass because it has decided that the amount ingested by children is typically under the “concern threshold.”
Unfortunately, that is not true. These ingredients cause health problems ranging from hyperactivity, cancer (proven in animal studies) and allergic reactions. Artificial food coloring has been implicated in bed wetting, ear infections, headaches, obesity, hypersensitivity, asthma, diabetes, eczema, mood swings, hyperactivity, sleep disturbances, increased risky behavior, ADD/ADHD, hives, chromosomal damage and possibly hypoglycemia.
These ingredients are recognized as toxic by the British government and the European Union, which have banished them entirely.
Here are some examples:
1. Pop tarts
Pop tarts are processed pastries, first introduced in 1964. The Frosted Strawberry flavor includes corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose and sugar, all among the first six ingredients. Each of these is a harmful form of sugar. Pop tarts also contain TBHQ, which is derived from petroleum and is related to butane; partially hydrogenated soybean oil, known to cellular dysfunction; and cancer causing artificial colors.
2. Fruit snacks
The name itself is highly misleading. Fruit snacks are made mostly of artificial additives and colors. Red #3, also known as erythrosine, is a petroleum product commonly used as a food coloring.
These are the colorful chocolate candies that “melt in your mouth, not in your hand.” The candy coating includes Blue #2, a petroleum based ingredient that increases hyperactivity in kids, increases brain tumors in laboratory rats, and other abnormal cell development. They also have Blue #1, which produces malignant tumors; Red #40, which damages DNA; Yellow #6, which can cause cancer; and Yellow #5.
These cheesy orange snacks are colored with Yellow #6, derived from petroleum, and they contain methyl benzoate and ethyl methylphenidate.
5. Teddy grams
These little cookies come in five different flavors, and they are a convenient size for little fingers. Unfortunately, they are laced with TBHQ, which can cause nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium and collapse. It has been proven to cause stomach cancer in laboratory rats, to fragment DNA, and to cause damage to humane lung and umbilical cells. Children sometimes react exhibiting anxiety, restlessness, and heightened symptoms of ADHD.
So what do you feed your kiddos? There are plenty of healthy snacks you can grab and go. Make up little baggies of organic carrots and celery, or just take a piece of organic fruit. You can also make granola bars with chia and flax seed, or fruit and nuts. These are filling and nutrient rich, and they can be frozen and used when you need them.