Say the word “petroleum” and the first things that come to mind are: fuel, oil, and climate change. A person may also think about petroleum jelly or plastics. However, one thing that would probably never cross your mind as a petroleum product would be your children’s snacks. Well, read on, my friends, read on.<!–more–>
Close to ten billion dollars annually is wrapped up in advertising foods specifically for children. Oh, these marketing strategies are artfully and expertly done. They tie together with the food product whatever is the latest, trendy video game or children’s movie character. They time and place the ads with precision for maximum exposure to children. These tender, young minds are no match for ad campaigns designed by psychology and science experts with the purpose to quickly captivate children’s attention and brainwash them into believing they simply must have this product.
Many of these snacks we parents detest because they are filled with sugar and have no nutritional value whatsoever. Yet, we buy them anyway. Even if we set high standards and try our best to stick to our guns, eventually, somewhere, somehow and at some time, our children get their hands on these preservative filled Frankenstein-like products that pass for food nowadays. There is simply no escaping it. And, after one taste, the poor child is hooked. Often for life.
Most of these tasty treats are also filled with food dyes to make them more appealing. Bright yellows and reds and pinks and purples simply scream, “Eat me! I’m delicious!” Children are naturally drawn to these vibrant colors. And food dyes pervade almost every commercially produced food product out there: cereals, mac-and-cheese, chips, frozen treats, snack bars, etc. And guess what those food dyes are made from? Yes, you guessed it, food dyes are a petroleum product. And that is why food dyes have been linked to horrible health conditions such as allergies, hyperactivity and even cancer.
The worst ones are, perhaps the colors Red #40 and Yellow #5. The United Kingdom has banned these particular colors but the United States Food and Drug Administration seems to have no problem poisoning children with these damaging petroleum products. If you live in the States, the list of food products containing petroleum based food dyes is endless. However, here are a few of the most common children’s foods that almost every parent stocks at one time or other and should be on the “no buy” list from now on:
- Pop Tarts – The product includes TBHQ (tert-Butylhydroquinone). TBHQ is marketed as a beneficial antioxidant preservative. It is a petroleum based chemical that is known to cause cellular dysfunction, tumors, vision loss, enlargement of the liver, intensify ADHD symptoms and even convulsions and paralysis.
- Gummy Fruit Snacks – Red #3 (erythrosine) is commonly used, not just to produce a red “gummy”, but combined with other colors to get a different color (red+yellow=orange, etc.) so, really, no gummy is safe. This food coloring is petroleum based and has been banned for cosmetic use because it is linked with the development of thyroid tumors. If you shouldn’t wear it then, for heaven’s sake, you certainly shouldn’t eat it!
- M&M’s – Food dyes Red #4, Yellow #5, Yellow #6, Blue #1 and Blue #2 are used. Red #40 is linked with DNA damage. Both yellows are linked to causing cancer. Blue #1 is linked to developing malignant tumors. Blue #2 can cause brain tumors that can, in turn, cause hyperactivity.
- Cheetohs – The Yellow #6, which is used prolifically in all varieties, is petroleum based. The flavoring that creates that tasty “cheesiness” has methyl benzoate and ethyl methylphenidate for ingredients. The MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) states that methyl benzoate is very hazardous when ingested. Ethyl methylphenidate is very similar in effects to the drug Ritalin. In other words, its purpose is to addict and give the consumer a “high”.
- Teddy Grahams – Another food product containing TBHQ.
Many well-meaning parents, including myself, are sabotaging the lives of their children. Food dyes are insidious ingredients most parents don’t even consider. We are too busy worrying about the high sugar levels. As parents, we not only have to be diligent in knowing what we are putting into our children’s bodies but we have to train our children to stand strong and resist these ad campaigns designed to suck them in to purchasing products that have eye and flavor appeal but are actually dangerous. We have to warn them that many contain ingredients specifically designed to create a mild euphoric and addictive effect. To certain foods, just like drugs, our children need to learn to “Just Say No!”