Ochsner pediatrician Myriam Ortiz De Jesus, M.D., recently reviewed a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) which included policy statement calls for stronger federal food safety requirements and outlines ways families can limit exposure.

The statement says that:

some currently allowed chemicals may be best avoided – especially for children, and an increasing number of studies suggest some food additives can interfere with a child’s hormones, growth and development.”

Over 10,000 additives are currently allowed in the U.S.

These additives are put directly into food or are indirect chemicals and coatings used in processing and packaging. Approximately 1,000 additives are designated “Generally Recognized as Safe” and don’t require U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.

Myriam Ortiz De Jesus, M.D.

“BPA is banned in baby bottles and sippy cups, but other containers may include BPA,” stated Dr. Ortiz. “Even containers labeled ‘BPA Free’ may still release harmful chemicals into food when heated.

AAP recommends limiting exposure to the chemicals of greatest concern. These include:

  • Buy and serve more fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, and fewer processed meats–especially during pregnancy.  
  • Since heat can cause plastics to leak BPA and phthalates into food, avoid microwaving food or beverages in plastic when possible. Also try to avoid putting plastics in the dishwasher.  “Always remember, infant formula and pumped human milk should never be heated in a microwave,” added Dr. Ortiz.
  • Use alternatives to plastic, such as glass or stainless steel, when possible.
  • Avoid plastics with recycling codes 3 (phthalates), 6 (styrene), and 7 (bisphenols) unless they are labeled as “biobased” or “greenware.”
  • Wash hands thoroughly before and after touching food and clean all fruits and vegetables that cannot be peeled.

“Everyone should avoid these chemicals, but children are especially vulnerable. As a child grows and develops, the slighted chemical exposure could cause serious long-term harm to their body,” said Ortiz.

“There are critical weaknesses in the current food additives regulatory process, which doesn’t do enough to ensure all chemicals added to foods are safe enough to be part of a family’s diet,” said Dr. Leonardo Trasande, lead author of the AAP policy statement.  “As pediatricians, we’re especially concerned about significant gaps in data about the health effects of many of these chemicals on infants and children.”  

The full announcement can be found on AAP’s website.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with an Ochsner practitioner, call 225-761-5200 or visit www.Ochsner.org/info to schedule online.