Medicines for babies and young children frequently contain a cocktail of additives which are banned from foods and drinks designed to be consumed by the under threes.
A survey of 41 medicines aimed at the under threes found only one product which did not contain a food additive or food additives that are prohibited from foods specifically manufactured for the same age group.
The survey, published in The Food Magazine, found azo dye colourings in five products and multiple artificial sweeteners and preservatives in the majority of products. No colours or sweeteners are permitted in foods and drinks for the under threes and most preservatives are prohibited. The Food Standards Agency confirmed that only additives strictly necessary from a technological point of view and recognised as being without risk to the health of young children are authorised in such foods.
Some medicines warned the additives they contained could have harmful side effects e.g., ?E123, E214, E216 & E218 may cause allergic reactions (possibly delayed).? The side effects listed included irritation of the skin, eyes and mucosal surfaces, stomach upset and diarrhoea. Some of these reactions can occur a few days after exposure.
Ian Tokelove, a spokesperson for The Food Magazine, said ?Whilst many children will be able to consume these products safely, there will be those who will suffer allergic reactions to these additives. It is time for medicine manufacturers to clean up their act and remove any unnecessary additives. We believe that colourings and artificial sweeteners can be replaced with natural alternatives and the use of preservatives should be rigerously questioned.? The survey found that some medicines contained no preservatives at all, whilst similar products contained two or three.