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October 16, 2003 "E-mail to a friend"
Mothers told: 'Make your own baby food' in cancer alert
PARENTS have been advised to consider making their own baby food after the discovery of a toxin linked to cancer in jars of manufactured food sold all over the world.
The alarm was raised yesterday after experts at the European Food Safety Authority confirmed the discovery of semicarbazide, which can damage DNA, in a range of products, including baby food.
Experts in Brussels and London believe that the risks are small, but so little is known about semicarbazide or its threat to human health that many consumers may decide to boycott some products. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said last night that if parents wished to play safe they should make their babies’ and infants’ food themselves, but it did not go so far as to advise against buying bottled foods.
The European agency said that the toxin was getting into food through the plastic gaskets used to seal glass jars with metal twist-off lids, although experts could not say how much. Scientists who assessed the risks to babies and toddlers concluded: “It would be prudent to reduce exposure to semicarbazide as swiftly as technologically possible.”
The toxin is also found in jams, ketchup, pickles, mustard, mayonnaise, honey, some fruit juices and sauces. The experts believe the risks to consumers are low and therefore have not ordered supermarkets to clear their shelves of products. However, they are concerned that the very young could be most at risk.
Sir John Krebs, chairman of the FSA, said: “These jars are commonly used for baby food and so parents may understandably be concerned by the continuing uncertainty, which may lead some parents to choose alternative foods for their babies.”
The agency’s website advises parents not to make smaller portions of adult food for children but to prepare special purées of fruit, vegetables, meat and chicken, and to take care not to add extra salt and sugar.
Food manufacturers have been instructed to find new methods of sealing food products to safeguard against contamination from various bugs and bacteria. However, a spokesman for Heinz said it could take another four to six months.
Semicarbazide has been linked to cancers, liver damage, miscarriages and birth deformities in animals, but little is known about its effects on human health.
Sir John said: “There is considerable uncertainty about the possible risks.” Further research on the effects of the toxin have been ordered and the agency said it would update its advice when it knew more.
Mark Jones, director of the Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors’ Association, the professional union for health visitors and school nurses, said: “There will certainly be worried parents this morning who will be seeking advice on this from health visitors.”
Mr Jones urged parents not to be alarmed but said he would understand that they would want to seek alternatives to baby food in jars.
He said: “We would like to think that all parents had the time to cook their babies fresh food, but that’s just not realistic for many very busy people. We would urge the baby food industry to change their manufacturing processes so that there are more alternatives.”
Liz Kendall, chief executive of Maternity Alliance, which campaigns on behalf of expectant and new parents, said that many working parents relied on baby food in jars because they were convenient and safe.
“For many people with very busy lives these products are a great help. That’s why this kind
Well here we go again. It is never ending the chemical assault on our species! Our baby food now is hardly what you would call safe. Chemicals in cosmetics and toiletries - our water - our food - the environment - and now this. Carcinogens found in the food of our smallest citizens.
No wonder there is such a worrying increase in the rate that cancer is striking people down at - even at the most tender age no-one is safe from toxic chemicals it seems. Semicarbazide is just another example of literally thousands of chemicals we are regularly exposed to as we go about our daily lives.
If you care about your loved ones would you knowingly allow them to put toxic chemicals on their skin and in their mouths? It is up to us as individuals to make others aware of this insidious problem permeating through every sector of society in the modern world..
Certified Organic is the only way you can be sure food and skin care products are free of toxic man made chemicals
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