By Alanna Ketler, Collective Evolution
- The Facts: American Academy of Pediatrics issues warning to parents about kids consuming processed meats. Processed meat products are carcinogenic and should be avoided, especially by pregnant mothers and children as they are more susceptible to these chemicals
- Reflect On: With awareness comes change. Should packages of hot dogs and lunch meat come with a cancer warning in the same way that cigarettes do in order to raise awareness? How can we stop supporting these products as something we turn to regularly?
The American Academy of Pediatrics has put out an official warning to parents in regards to the risk of chemicals found in processed meat and plastic food containers. What’s more is the group has urged expectant mothers to eat a diet that consists mainly of whole fruits and vegetables.
There are approximately 67,000 pediatricians in the Academy, which published its new guidelines in a statement accompanied by a report on July 23rd. This report notes how some of the chemicals that are found in certain foods can interfere with natural hormones, inhibit healthy development and stunt long-term growth.
The scientists state that infants in utero, infants and children are at much higher risk from food chemicals because their metabolic and key organ systems are not yet fully developed. Nitrates and nitrites are some of the worst chemicals out there to consume. These are found mostly in processed meat products, including hot dogs, bologna, salami, bacon and many other types of processed meats. A few years ago the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a report ranking these meat products on a par with cigarettes for their potential risk of developing cancer. On top of these chemicals found in the meat products themselves, there are phthalates found in the plastic packaging, which are also very toxic for us to consume.
Dr. Leaonardo Trasande, the lead author of the statement, told the New York Times, “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.”
Some of the recommendations from the academy included consuming primarily fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, washing all non-peeled fresh foods, straight-up avoiding processed meats, using alternatives to plastic to store and reheat food, and washing hands before touching the food. Plastic containers should not be used in the microwave or dishwasher, the group also noted; however, if possible, it’s best to avoid these altogether.
The experts also advised families to check the recycling code of a product. It is wise to avoid any plastics with a recycling code of 3, 6 or 7, as they likely contain phthalates, bisphenols or styrene unless they happen to be labelled ‘biobased’ or ‘greenware.’ The pediatricians are now demanding that there be improved testing and regulation of the chemicals that are commonly used as food additives, either directly put into food during processing or indirectly through the packaging of the food.
Times Are Changing
This is another example out of so many recent ones about how raising awareness about an issue will directly impact change. Once enough people become aware of a specific issue, it is only a matter of time before the issue is changed. It’s great to see this push from the American Academy of Pediatrics because this means that many parents will see this information, or it will be brought to their attention by their pediatrician. Before long this information will be common knowledge, like how everyone knows that smoking causes cancer, and we will see a massive decline in the sale of these products.
So much so that those companies might eventually stop making processed meat products altogether, because there are not enough people who will buy them. The plastic packaging or chemicals used could end up being banned altogether, after enough awareness is raised and the information is gathered. This is one direct way to create massive change.
In the future, imagine seeing a cancer warning on packages of hot dogs and other processed foods. We did this for smoking and if we know that there are other substances out there, especially that we are unknowingly feeding to our children, wouldn’t it make sense to put labels on these foods as well?
Many people are still uneducated about the potential risks associated with feeding their children these types of foods. I was raised on a lot of processed foods for two reasons: one was that we didn’t have a lot of money and they were cheap, the other was that my mother simply was unaware of how potentially harmful they really were. Despite not having a lot of money, had my mother been informed of the risks, we certainly wouldn’t have been consuming these products.
We have the power to create the type of world we want to live in. Things are changing rapidly and it’s up to us to be informed about what we are choosing to spend our money on. If everyone spent a little bit more money on more healthy foods, it would hopefully drive the cost down and certainly would help prevent hefty medical bills in the future. It’s up to each one of us. We can all take responsibility for our lives and be the change we wish to see.