UK – The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has taken a proactive stance to safeguard young consumers, introducing voluntary industry guidance on the use of glycerol in slush-ice drinks.

In the wake of hospitalizations involving children due to glycerol intoxication, FSA’s recommendations underscore the importance of responsible practices in the production and sale of these popular frozen treats.

The newly issued FSA guidance serves as a resolute safeguard, advising against the sale of glycerol-containing slush-ice drinks to children aged four and under.

Recognizing the potential health risks posed by excessive glycerol consumption, manufacturers are also being urged to steer clear of free refill promotions aimed at children under 10. This collective effort aims to shield young children from the adverse effects of glycerol intoxication.

The guidance’s genesis can be traced back to two distressing incidents in Scotland, one in 2021 and another in 2022.

These cases, where children required hospitalization due to glycerol intoxication, served as stark reminders of the potential dangers associated with slush-ice drinks.

At elevated levels of glycerol exposure, symptoms such as shock, hypoglycemia, and loss of consciousness may emerge, particularly when multiple servings are consumed in rapid succession.

Assessment, age considerations

Glycerol, often used as a sugar substitute to create the characteristic slush texture, finds its way into these frozen beverages. However, FSA’s guidance strongly advocates for the judicious use of glycerol, employing only the minimum quantity required to achieve the desired texture.

The assessment highlights the disparity between glycerol content in slush-ice drinks and other foods, underlining the need for caution in consumption.

Through rigorous risk assessment, FSA evaluated a worst-case scenario where a child consumes a 350-milliliter slush drink containing the highest glycerol concentration of 50,000 milligrams per liter.

This evaluation underscored the potential for adverse effects, particularly for children aged four and below.

Children above the age of four are deemed less susceptible to such effects, with FSA’s guidance tailored to accommodate differences in average child weights at varying ages.

As an ever-evolving regulatory entity, FSA commits to monitoring the implementation of these guidelines across the industry.

Should industry practices evolve to utilize lower levels of glycerol, the guidelines will be subject to reassessment. This dynamic approach reflects FSA’s commitment to safeguarding consumer health in tandem with industry progress.

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