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Rodrigo Louvat
I am a Marketing Associate at Tera in charge of digital marketing and content creation, writing blog articles and newsletters. Drop me a line at if you feel like it!

What are the Toxic Ingredients in Children’s Food

Infographic about why goldfish is a unhealthy food product

The child food and beverage industry is reportedly valued at $138.8 billion in 2023, yet concerns are rising over the actual nutritional value of the products being marketed to children. Critics argue that many items, such as Goldfish, Froot Loops, and animal crackers, are less about nourishment and more about creating dependency with their appealing tastes and packaging, essentially branding them as consumable “foodstuff” rather than genuine food. Despite the widespread availability of snacks, the emphasis is increasingly on the importance of consuming products that are both healthy and clean.

Tera app food product page Annie's cheddar bunnies

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a policy statement named “Food Additives and Child Health“, which highlights the potential hazards associated with these additives and how they can be more detrimental to children compared to adults. As children have smaller bodies, even small amounts of these chemicals can result in higher exposure levels. Furthermore, their bodies are still developing, they are at a greater risk of harm, and the effects of the chemicals may be more severe in the long term since they have more time to accumulate over the course of their lives.

In particular, the policy statement warns about:

  • Bisphenols, such as BPA. They can act like the hormone estrogen and interfere with puberty and fertility. Bisphenols can also increase body fat, and cause problems with the immune system and nervous system. They are found in the lining of food and soda cans, plastics with the number 3 or 7, and cash register receipts, among other places. They used to be found in plastic baby bottles and sippy cups; while this has been banned, older bottles and cups may still contain them.
  • Phthalates. These can also act like hormones, interfering with male genital development, and can increase the risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease. They are ubiquitous, found not just in plastic packaging, garden hoses, and inflatable toys, but also in things like nail polish, hairsprays, lotions, and fragrances.
  • Perfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFCs). They can lead to low-birthweight babies, as well as problems with the immune system, the thyroid, and fertility. They are commonly found in grease-proof paper, cardboard packaging, and commercial household products such as water-repellent fabric and nonstick pans, among other places.
  • Perchlorate. This chemical also interferes with thyroid function, and can disrupt early brain development. It’s found in some dry food packaging — it’s used to decrease static electricity — and sometimes in drinking water.
  • Artificial food colors. These have been found to increase symptoms in children who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. They are found in all sorts of food products, but especially those marketed for children.
  • Nitrates and nitrites. These can interfere with the thyroid, as well as with the blood’s ability to deliver oxygen to the body. They can also increase the risk of certain cancers. They are used to preserve food and enhance its color. They are commonly found in processed foods, especially meats.
American froot loops vs Canada froot loops ingredients list infographic

Froot Loops is a prime example of the issue with toxic ingredients in children’s food. It’s one of the most popular cereals ever sold, and it’s hard to find a child that doesn’t love it. But the product’s bright, beautiful colors, cool, lovable mascot, and heaps of sugar make it the perfect product for kids who know nothing about the serious health concerns this product brings.

35-gram serving of Kellogg’s Froot Loops contains 14.5 grams of sugar, which is equivalent to 3.6 sugar packets. Overall, a box of Froot Loops is 41.4% sugar. Does that sound like a healthy and balanced breakfast to you? With such high sugar content and so many harmful chemicals, Froot Loops is far from healthy and can have negative effects on children’s development.

Toxic food color dyes in fruit loops

There are numerous harmful ingredients in common child name brand products, too many to cover here or to learn about unless you go through 6 years of school. That’s why it’s important to verify products with Tera before consuming them. However, you can still make a significant change right now by avoiding sugar and artificial food coloring. For instance, Froot Loops in the United States are made with Red 40, Blue 1, and Yellow 6, all of which require a warning label to be sold in the EU and other places. Kellogg’s doesn’t need to include these harmful chemicals in their products, as they sell Froot Loops without them in other countries. Unfortunately, nothing is stopping them from poisoning children in the USA. Nevertheless, you can still protect the children in your life by staying informed and informing those around you.

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