What are we really feeding our children? by Kathy Pearson

The second article written by American CEO Kathy Pearson on food additives. If you find this interesting read the previous article here. 

As a mum with a young child who was constantly getting sick with ear infections, fevers, and colds with a runny nose, I decided to look into what could possibly be causing it. Like every mum I bought foods that I thought were healthy and nutritious and a few treats here and there. I was shocked what I found when I did some research on our food supply. Here are the highlights of what I have found. 

Over the past several decades, there has been a decline in our general food supply. 

Food companies started adding more and more food additives and preservatives to food in the 1950’s because they wanted a longer shelf life when food started to be shipped long distances. Chemical companies who produce herbicides and pesticides to spray on our crops started genetically modifying foods (GMOs) in the 1990’s when they wanted chemical resistant crops for more production. 

Food producers started using hormones and antibiotics in their animals and in the feed when they wanted them to be larger and/or produce more milk. 

Most fast food restaurants started using products that are filled with additives and preservatives, for example, even the healthy salad options are sprayed with nitrates to preserve freshness. 

Food Additives 

According to the book Food Additives: A Shoppers Guide to What’s Safe and What’s Not! by Christine Hoza Farlow, D.C., there are more than 3,000 different chemicals purposefully added to our food. Others say that there are more than 14,000. Safety testing of these chemical additives is generally done by the company that wants to produce the chemicals or use them in the foods they produce. 

In the United States, The Delaney Clause of the 1958 Food Additives Amendment states that any additives shown to cause cancer in humans or animals are not permitted in our food. However, because of political pressure the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows small amounts of cancer causing substances to be used in foods. 

Even if all food additives used in our foods were safe individually, rarely does any food have only one additive in it. Testing for additive safety has been done for single additives, not combinations. Additives safe individually may be harmful in certain combinations. Nobody knows the effects of the many different additives used in the thousands of different combinations, the results that will occur from eating numerous different products together, with different chemical additives, or the consequences of consuming these ingredients or products over time. Reactions are related to dose, so the more additives children eat, the more likely they are to be affected. 

Parents who think that they are feeding their children healthy food are shocked to find out that their children can be consuming more that 20 additives or more per day. 

Here are some examples of additives that are outlined in the book Food Additives: A Shoppers Guide that specifically affect children: 

Sodium Benzoate/ Benzoate of Soda: On its own it is considered a poison, is a known skin irritant and is moderately toxic if swallowed. It is associated with numerous health issues, may cause hyperactivity in children, neurological disorders, gastrointestinal upset and has caused birth defects in lab animals. It may form benzene, a carcinogen, in presence of ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Those with asthma or liver problems should avoid it. Sodium benzoate is found in many products including many soft drinks such as diet cola. 

BHA: A preservative that has been linked to liver and kidney damage, behavioral problems, infertility, weakened immune system, birth defects, cancer and should be avoided by infants, young children, pregnant women and those sensitive to aspirin. It is also a possible carcinogen. 

Artificial colour FD & C, U.S. certified food colour (Known as “E-Numbers” in Britain): Artificial colors are known to cause hyperactivity in children, may contribute to learning and visual disorders, nerve damage and may be carcinogenic. 

These artificial colours can be found in brightly coloured processed foods including cereals, sweets, children’s vitamins and medicines, just to name a few items. 

Beware of words like “modified maltodextrin” which really means GMO corn. 

Besides the behavioral effects of the additives, they have also been linked to stomach aches, speech delay, anxiety, depression, night terrors, sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, temper outbursts, meltdowns, oppositional defiance, hor- monal imbalances, ADD/ADHD, symptoms on the autistic spectrum along with asthma and allergies.

Additive-free children are generally healthier, happier, calmer, more cooperative, have better communication skills and increased focus. When shopping for your child’s food, remember to READ ALL LABELS!

Genetically Modified (GM) Foods

According to Jeffrey M. Smith, the author of Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, in 1992, when GM Foods were introduced into the food supply the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) said “The agency is not aware of any information showing that foods derived by these new methods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way.” On the basis of that sentence, the FDA claimed that no safety studies are necessary and that “Ultimately, it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety.”

Scientists in the industry urged the FDA to require long-term safety studies, including human studies, to guard against possible allergies, toxins, new diseases and nutritional problems, but they were not done before the food was allowed into our food supply.

Since 1994, not many studies have been done in the United States because most of the funding comes from the food and chemical companies. Many of the studies that have been done and the findings of documented health risks are outlined in the book Genetic Roulette. The studies are too numerous to mention here, but there seems to be a common theme that it is very clear that the risks are mostly unknown and long term and the identified risks are greater for children, newborns and pregnant women.

There are three studies outlined in Genetic Roulette linking the rise of peanut allergies to genetically modified soy. (See the book for the studies.) GM Soy was introduced into the US food supply in late 1996. Peanut allergies doubled among children in the United States from 1997 - 2002. In the United Kingdom, GM soy was imported into the country shortly before 1999. In a single year, 1999, soy allergies in the UK jumped from 10 % to 15% of the sampled population. GM soy also has an increased concentration of a known allergen.

Hormones and Antibiotics

Much of our meat, poultry, eggs and milk are from animals injected with genetically modified hormones. The hormones increase the size of the animal and/or the production of milk beyond the natural cycle. Because of the complications from the hormones, antibiotics are needed. Then we consume them. The research that I have done does not make me want to feed it to my family.

The bottom line is quite simple. The safest course is to eat only organic whole foods. Do away with all processed foods and fast foods and eat mostly organic meat and whole vegetables. Since we changed our child to this simple diet six years ago, as well as eliminated gluten, dairy, corn, soy and sugar, we have seen no ear infections, colds or any major illnesses of any kind. The school has reported increased participation, improved language skills, the ability to sit throughout the day and is testing at 90th percentile and greater in state tests.