WE ACT Supports the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Call for Stronger Federal Food Safety Requirements

July 25, 2018
Contact: Chris Dobens, 212-961-1000 ext. 320, chris@weact.org

WASHINGTON — The American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement on Food Additives and Child Health is a monumental step in protecting the health and well-being of all children, particularly children of color. It discusses the use of colorings, flavorings, and chemicals deliberately added to food during processing (direct food additives) as well as substances used in materials that can come into contact with food during processing and packaging, including adhesives, dyes, coatings, paper, paperboard, plastic, and other polymers which may contaminate food (indirect food additives). And it calls for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reform its food additive regulatory process, including new requirements for the toxicity testing of new materials along with re-testing of previously approved materials, as well as for more research to better understand how these additives affect human health – particularly among children.

One example of indirect food additives is phthalates, which studies have found in the powdered cheese in Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and other products like it. Phthalates are used to make plastics more flexible, and can migrate into food from processing and packaging equipment. Already banned from children’s teething rings and rubber duckies, this chemical has been linked to a number of health issues including birth defects in infant boys and learning and behavioral problems in older children.

“The study noted that there are racial and ethnic differences in food additive exposures, and our research has identified a heightened danger among communities of color and low-socioeconomic status,” said WE ACT for Environmental Justice’s Director of Federal Policy Adrienne L. Hollis, PhD, JD.

Referring to WE ACT’s Food Justice Initiative, Hollis noted: “Comparable to the environmental injustice of siting and placing polluting facilities in communities of color and/or low-income, the practice of inundating these same communities with ultra-processed foods, which contributes to a number of adverse health effects in the very young, as their bodies are constantly developing, is food injustice. Exposure to ultra-processed foods and foods containing harmful chemicals, flavors and the like cause developmental issues, endocrine disruption and other reproductive effects, as outlined in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ policy statement.”

WE ACT applauds the American Academy of Pediatrics and fully supports its calls for a reduction in exposure to chemicals in processed food as well as it policy recommendations. And on behalf of the communities we serve, those communities of color and/or low-income which must endure a higher level of exposure to these hazards, we urge immediate action from the FDA.

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WE ACT for Environmental Justice is a Northern Manhattan membership-based organization whose mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices. WE ACT has offices in New York and Washington, D.C. Visit us at weact.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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