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Children may be at risk from additives in food

15 August 2005

Children may be at risk from additives in food

Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley is calling on the New Zealand Food Safety Authority to urgently test New Zealand food to make sure children are not eating more chemical additives, such as preservatives, than is safe for them.

Her call comes in the wake of a recently released Australian survey which found that children may be consuming more of the preservatives sulphites and benzoates than is safe for them, especially children with asthma and other allergies who consume cordials, sausages and dried fruit on a regular basis.

The report acknowledged that sulphites can be a problem for asthmatics, and people with allergies, and that it was important therefore that children are protected from consuming too much. Benzoates can also provoke asthma, allergies, skin reactions and gastric irritation,

It found that children's consumption was up to nearly three times higher than the internationally accepted safe level, Ms Kedgley said.

"It is safe to assume that if the levels are too high for children in Australia, they will be too high here, because so much of our food is the same. Yet we have no idea what the level of consumption of these preservatives is in New Zealand because the Government has not carried out any investigation," said Ms Kedgley. "This is extraordinary, given that the Australians monitor additives in their diet every year."

As a result of the findings, FSANZ (Food Safety Australia New Zealand) has decided to conduct a review of the use of sulphites and benzoates in the Australian food supply, and they will be working with food manufacturers to reduce the consumption of these preservatives.

"It is a real concern that the New Zealand food supply has not been sampled and nobody is bothering to work with New Zealand food manufacturers to reduce the consumption of these chemicals by New Zealand children," said Ms Kedgley.


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