On July 23, 2018, two articles on food additives and child health were published in the peer-reviewed journal Pediatrics of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): (1) a policy statement and (2) a technical report. The articles are authored by Leonardo Trasande from NYU School of Medicine, New York University, Rachel Shaffer, School of Public Health, University of Washington, Sheela Sathyanarayana, Pediatrics, University of Washington, and the Council on Environmental Health.
The authors “review and highlight emerging child health concerns [(e.g. “endocrine disruption and other adverse health effects”)] related to the use of colorings, flavorings, and chemicals deliberately added to food during processing (direct food additives) as well as substances in food contact materials, including adhesives, dyes, coatings, paper, paperboard, plastic, and other polymers, which may contaminate food as part of packaging or manufacturing equipment (indirect food additives).” They also “make reasonable recommendations that the pediatrician might be able to adopt into the guidance provided during pediatric visits” and “propose urgently needed reforms to the current regulatory process at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for food additives.”
The authors explain that “regulation and oversight of many food additives is inadequate because of several key problems in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA).” The “critical weaknesses” include insufficient requirements to ensure the safety of Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) food additives, conflicts of interest surrounding GRAS determinations, and the fact that “the FDA does not have adequate authority to acquire data on chemicals on the market or reassess their safety for human health.”
Therefore, the authors call for “substantial improvements to the food additives regulatory system.” These should include “greatly strengthening or replacing the GRAS determination process; updating the scientific foundation of the FDA’s safety assessment program; retesting all previously approved chemicals; and labeling direct food additives with limited or no toxicity data.”
A detailed guidance for pediatric counseling on minimizing EDC exposures from consumer products has also been provided by Katelyn Wong and Timur Durrani in a review published in the peer-reviewed journal Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care in 2017.
Carly Weeks (July 23, 2018). “Children are being harmed by food additives, U.S. pediatric association warns.” The Globe and Mail
Kelly Franklin (July 23, 2018). “American pediatrics group presses for FCM reforms.” Chemical Watch
Tom Neltner (July 23, 2018). “American Academy of Pediatrics calls for “urgently needed reforms” to fix broken food additive regulatory system.” EDF Health
Olivia Rosane (July 24, 2018). “Common food additives harm children’s heath, pediaticians warn.” EcoWatch
Georgina Crouth (August 6, 2018). “Plastics: are we putting our kids at risk?” IOL
Lorraine Chow (August 6, 2018). “Pediatricians warn against using plastic numbers 3, 6, 7.” EcoWatch
Steve Toloken (August 9, 2018). “Pediatricians push tougher food packaging regulations.” Plastics News
American Chemistry (August 16, 2018). “Setting the record straight: Response to American Academy of Pediatrics report.” American Chemistry Matters Blog
American Chemistry (November 2, 2018). “Correcting misunderstandings of food additives and child health.” American Chemistry Matters Blog
American Chemistry (November 15, 2018). “Open letter to the editor – Pediatrics – re: Food Additives and Child Health.” American Chemistry Matters Blog
American Chemistry (January 9, 2019). “What the American Academy of Pediatrics report got wrong about PFAS in food packaging.”
Trasande, L., et al. (2018). “Food additives and child health. Policy statement.” Pediatrics (published online July 23, 2018).
Trasande, L., et al. (2018). “Food additives and child health. Technical report.” Pediatrics (published online July 23, 2018).
Katelyn Wong and Timur Durrani (2017). “Exposures to endocrine disrupting chemicals in consumer products—A guide for pediatricians.” Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care 47(5): 107-118.