You have, no doubt, heard about the 28 million box Kellogg’s cereal recall. The company recalled select boxes of Kellogg’s Corn Pops, Honey Smacks, Froot Loops and Apple Jacks cereals. Consumers said there was an “off” taste and smell. Oh, and that they were giving some people nausea and diarrhea.
Kellogg’s said the packages were recalled because it identified a substance in the package liner that can “produce an uncharacteristic waxy-like off-taste and smell.” They were caused, the company said, because of elevated levels of a common substance that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in packaging. The Environmental Working Group identified the substance as methylnaphthalene, a petroleum-based product.
From an EWG press release: “This compound, methylnaphthalene (methyl-NAP-tha-lene), has been the subject of major, on-going government and oil industry testing and information-gathering initiatives to identify potential safety issues and fill basic data gaps, according to an Environmental Working Group (EWG) analysis of the scientific literature. Kellogg’s has not publicly identified the chemical but provided the information to EWG in response to our inquiries.”
The EWG did a little research on methylnaphthalene and didn’t find much info, but what it did find is troublesome. For example, four years ago the FDA asked for “toxicology information” about the substance. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry said it wasn’t easy to get exposure to it unless you lived near a hazardous waste site. Wow.
So we don’t really know very much about a substance that is commonly detected, according to the EWG’s press release, in “cigarette smoke, diesel and gasoline engine exhaust, wood smoke, tar and asphalt.” We do know, however — according to the same EWG research — that “methylnaphthalene causes lung damage when exposure occurs via inhalation, ingestion and skin contact. Mice given feed containing 0.075 percent or 0.15 percent of 1- or 2-methylnaphthalene for 81 weeks had lung damage known as ‘pulmonary alveolar proteinosis,’ marked by abnormal lipids, proteins and fluid in the lung.” And to date no one — no agency or organization — has set safe limits for the chemical. And yet there it is in cereal marketing to and made for children.
I don’t know about you, but that completely and totally ticks me off. Completely and totally. The EWG is calling for the FDA to do its job and actually “investigate and regulate all chemicals that make their way from cardboard boxes, plastic bags, metal cans and coated papers into our breakfasts and our bodies.” I say that’s a good place to start.
Does this recall affect what you’ve been buying for breakfast? Do you worry that the FDA isn’t taking our best interests to heart? What can we do to make our food safer? How can we best work with companies like Kellogg’s and other food manufacturers to ensure they are thinking about our safety? I’d like some answers.
This post is my participation in Real Food Wednesdays and Fight Back Fridays — two awesome campaigns to get people eating real food again. Would love to hear any tips you might have to help keep kids focused on eating. What super-yummy, high calorie foods can you suggest? I’d like to know.