The organization is telling parents to be careful when purchasing particular foods.
A new policy statement from the American Association of Pediatrics is advising parents to avoid certain types of food to prevent children from ingesting potentially harmful chemicals.
The statement, titled “Food Additives and Child Health,” says that parents should limit the number of processed meats, food stored in plastic and canned foods that they purchase—especially if they are parents of younger children.
“More than 10,000 chemicals are allowed to be added to food in the U.S., but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is unable to ensure all of those chemicals are safe,” wrote Dr. Leonardo Trasande, the lead author of the policy statement and technical report, in a press release. “Many chemicals are used under a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) designation without FDA approval or notification. They’re designated as safe by company employees or hired consultants.”
Children are particularly susceptible to chemicals, explained Dr. Trasande, because of how much they eat relative to their body weight and because their bodies are still developing. Some of the chemicals that the AAP is concerned about include bisphenols, which are found in plastic containers and aluminum cans and have been linked to obesity and ADHD, and nitrates, which have been linked to types of cancer.
The AAP recommends parents follow these guidelines to avoid foods with dangerous chemicals:
Opt for fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables.
Don't microwave foods and beverages (including breast milk or formula) in plastic containers.
Don't wash plastic containers in the dishwasher.
Choose non-plastic containers (like stainless steel or glass) when possible.
Look at a plastic product’s recycling code (at the bottom) and avoid those with codes three, six or seven. Unless the product is labeled as being biobased or greenware.
Wash hands before handling food or beverages.
Wash all fruit and vegetables that can’t be pealed.
If you don't frequently follow the practices above, the AAP says you should change your habits, but there is no need to panic.
"Try to incorporate this guidance going forward when possible," said Rachel Shaffer, an author of the statement, in an interview with Parents. "But we don't want to cause stress or alarm."
The AAP also released guidelines for policy-makers urging them to change existing laws and help keep any harmful chemicals out of food.
"The burden should not fall on families," said Shaffer. "Policy needs to change to ensure that food is safe."
Written by Joseph Barberio legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network.
Featured image provided by David Veksler