The American Academy of Pediatrics has warned parents of the risk of chemicals in processed meat and plastic food containers. The group has urged families and expectant mothers to eat mainly whole fruits and vegetables.
The Academy, which represents 67,000 pediatricians, published its new guidelines in a statement and a report on July 23. The report suggests that some of the chemicals found in certain foods can interfere with natural hormones, stunt long-term growth, and inhibit healthy development.
According to the scientists, infants and children are at a higher risk from food chemicals because their metabolic and key organ systems are not fully developed. Nitrates and nitrites are among the riskiest chemicals, and these are found primarily in meat products, along with phthalates, which are used to make plastic packaging.
However, “the good news is there are safe and simple steps people can take right now to limit exposures, and they don’t have to break the bank,” Dr. Leaonardo Trasande, lead author of the statement, told the New York Times.
Consuming primarily fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables is the main advice from the Academy. As well, washing all non-peeled fresh foods, avoiding processed meats, using alternatives to plastic (such as glass or stainless steel) when storing or heating up food, and washing hands before touching food can mitigate the risks. Plastic containers should be kept out of the microwave and the dishwasher, the group notes.
Furthermore, the experts also recommend that families check the recycling code of a product. It is important to steer clear of plastics with recycling codes 3, 6 and 7, they maintain, as they could contain phthalates, styrene, and bisphenols (unless they are labeled ‘biobased’ or ‘greenware’).
The pediatric group is also demanding improved testing and the regulation of chemicals used as food additives, or those indirectly put into foods during manufacturing, or through plastic packaging.
This is not the first time plant-based foods have been recommended for children. In February, the nonprofit health organization the Good Food Institute (GFI) suggested the laws surrounding child nutrition need updating to include more vegan foods. The current guidelines, according to GFI, are outdated and lack nutritional diversity.
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