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Toxic Ingredients in Your Kid’s Cereal

  • Sugar: Many kids’ cereals are high in sugar or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is also called corn syrup or corn sugar. Generally, if you see “sugar” of any kind in non-organic or GMO cereal, very likely it’s HFCS.
  • GMOs: Most conventional cereals contain sugar and corn made from GMO products. Note that these same manufacturers create GMO free cereals for distribution overseas.
  • Hydrogenated Oils: Partially hydrogenated oils contain trans fats, which, as we’ve discussed before, are linked to cancer, heart disease and immune problems. Fully hydrogenated oils are full of saturated fat. In addition, some companies will label partially hydrogenated oils as just “hydrogenated oils,” so you can’t be sure if there is trans fat in the product. (If there is less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, companies are allowed to write “0 grams of trans fat.”)
  • BHA: Another GRAS additive, BHA has been linked to cancer in some studies. The National Institutes of Health’s National Toxicology Programs has concluded that it can be “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” Both BHA and BHT are said to be at low enough levels to be safe for consumption by the FDA.
  • Soy Lecithin: Derived from GMO soy, this additive often contains toxins. According to The Cornucopia Institute, soy lecithin processing often involves hexane, and, though it is removed, trace amounts can be left behind. That residue is unregulated by the FDA even though it is listed by that organization as a potential carcinogen and neurotoxin
  • Annatto: This natural flavoring is now entering into controversy. According to WebMD, it can affect blood sugar levels so if your child has diabetes, please be aware of that. It also has been linked with allergies, and the Food Intolerance Network has gotten reports linking it to headaches and irritability. If you have a sensitive eater or a child prone to allergies, you may want to avoid this flavoring.
  • BHT: Found in many cereals, this food is classified by U.S. law as “GRAS” – “generally recommended as safe” – by the FDA. This means that experts consider them safe and they are approved as food additives without additional testing of their effects. In 2014, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental safety watchdog group, released “Generally Recognized as Secret: Chemicals Added to Food in the U.S. (PDF).” This report found loopholes in the GRAS classification, including research data coming from the company themselves and expert opinions that disregarded evidence of allergic reactions, that compromise the real safety of GRAS additives. BHT is also a chemical additive and may be a possible ADHD trigger.

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