EVERYONE loves an ice slushy on a hot, sunny day.
Yet, the popular frozen drinks can be very dangerous – so much so, that parents have been warned not to let toddlers near them.
In August, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said children under four could suffer headaches and sickness due to high glycerol levels, a sweetener in the child-friendly drinks sold at cinemas and play parks.
People who sell the drinks were told to refuse free refills to children under ten to stop them from drinking too much.
The potentially toxic drinks have appeared in the media spotlight again this month after two infants almost died after consuming them.
Both children, one aged three and the other four, were hospitalised. Doctors who treated the children blamed glycerol.
Glycerol, or E422, gives the slushy drinks that slushed effect; it does this by keeping the drinks freezing into a solid.
The E number is dangerous, but only in high quantities, Dr Duane Mellor, registered dietitian and senior lecturer at Aston Medical School in Birmingham, tells Sun Health.
This is why children, who are smaller than adults, are more at risk of drinking dangerous amounts.
“If too much glycerol is consumed too quickly and in too large a volume, it can potentially change the blood concentration,” he says.
“This can then affect the amount of fluid around the brain, leading to symptoms including confusion, dizziness, nausea and even, on occasion, loss of consciousness.”
According to the FSA, just one 350ml drink with the highest levels of glycerol could potentially cause a problem for a four-year-old.
But the more likely scenario of glycerol intoxication comes from younger kids consuming several E422-filled slushies or just one drink very quickly.
‘He collapsed and began fitting’
This is what happened to Little Albie Pegg, from Warwickshire, who started hallucinating and then fell unconscious within an hour of drinking a slushy.
The four-year-old had been bowling with a friend after school on October 13, 2023, before gulping down a small strawberry-flavoured iced slushy drink.
He was then rushed to the hospital, where he was struggling to breathe, and doctors warned him he might not make it.
Angus Anderson, three, “collapsed and began fitting” minutes after drinking one of the iced drinks.
After rushing to hospital, staff told mum Victoria, from Glasgow, that the slushy had caused glycerol toxicity – which left Angus in a “drunk-like” state.
Both children got the medical care and treatment they needed.
Adam Hardgrave, head of additives at the regulator, said: “The symptoms of glycerol intoxication are usually mild, but it is important that parents are aware of the risks – particularly at high consumption levels.
“It is likely that there is under-reporting of glycerol intoxication, as parents may attribute nausea and headaches to other factors.
“We are grateful to those manufacturers who have already taken steps to reduce glycerol levels and to those who have already told us they will be adopting our new guidelines.”
Source: The Sun