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Breakfast Cereals are Highly Processed Foods

2-methylnaphtalene in your cereal

Kellogg's Froot Loops cereal is a very popular breakfast food that is actively marketed to children in cartoon television commercials. For some time, it has been known that artificial food dyes from these colorful cereals can impair the performance of hyperactive children.[1] Recently, Kellogg recalled 28 million boxes of Froot Loops, Apple Jacks, Corn Pops and Honey Smacks cereals because of chemical contamination by 2-methylnaphthalene. 2-Methylnaphthalene is a chemical derivative of naphthalene which is a primary ingredient of mothballs.

The cereals were recalled after consumers reported a strange taste and odor, and some complained of nausea and diarrhea. Kellogg hired some experts who said that there was "no harmful material" in the products. The Food and Drug Administration has no scientific data on the impact of 2-methylnaphtalene on human health, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also lacks the basic health data, even though the agency has been seeking that information from the chemical industry for 16 years.

The EPA information for 2-methylnaphthalene indicates that the substance causes pulmonary alveolar proteinosis which is characterized by an accumulation of phospholipids in the alveolar lumens and white protuberant nodules in the lungs. The best guess that the EPA can make is that the oral Reference Dose (RfD) of a daily exposure to the human population (including sensitive subgroups) that is likely to be without an appreciable risk of deleterious effects during a lifetime is 0.004 mg/kg-day.[2]

Breakfast cereals are very convenient for busy parents, but there is a price to pay. The dyes and the high sugar content do not provide the best nutrition for our children. There are better alternatives to the highly processed foods, but you have to read labels carefully.

[1] Swanson JM, Kinsbourne M., Food dyes impair performance of hyperactive children on a laboratory learning test, Science. 1980 Mar 28;207(4438):1485-7. PMID: 7361102

[2] 2-Methylnaphthalene (CASRN 91-57-6) [link]

© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora