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Label Ingredients In Medicines, Say Greens

The Government must move to label ingredients in all medicines, the Green Party said today.

The call came after revelations that artificial sweeteners which caused cancer in animals were included unlabelled in medicines targeted at children. Lobby group Safe Food revealed earlier today that all liquid antibiotics and paracetamol on the market contained artificial sweeteners such as saccharin or aspartame that were explicitly banned from infant formulas and preparations intended for babies.

Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said it was scandalous to discover that additives that were banned from baby food were routinely used in medicine aimed at young babies and children.

"These additives should be removed immediately from liquid medicines. There have been serious safety concerns about both of these artificial sweeteners," Ms Kedgley said.

Saccharin had been found to cause cancer in some laboratory animals, and was banned in Canada, France and other countries. Aspartame caused holes in the brains of some laboratory animals, and some scientists believed it was linked to an increase in brain tumours and other neurological disorders.

In the USA food containing saccharin must carry the warning "Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains saccharin which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals". Even in New Zealand soft drinks containing saccharin must state that they were "not recommended for children".

Labelling of all medicines, and especially ones targeted at children, was urgently needed and long overdue, Ms Kedgley said.

It was a fundamental consumer right to know what was in food - or medicines - they consumed, particularly when medicine might contain additives that could provoke adverse reactions or affect people's health, Ms Kedgley said.

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