After a report from a national pediatric organization highlighting potential dangers in food additives and packaging, an Anchorage doctor is explaining what it means for parents and their households.

The American Academy of Pediatrics released its overview Monday of concerns about food additives as well as chemicals in food packaging that may not be safe for children. The report calls for stronger federal food safety requirements and includes steps parents can take to limit their children's exposure to chemicals.

Dr. Lily Lou is head of the AAP's Alaska chapter as well as the director of The Children's Hospital at Providence. Lou said the chemical culprits in food can include artificial colorants, preservatives, nitrates and many other things that may not be safe for children and/or have serious health effects.

"If they are exposed to chemicals, they can have long-lasting impacts on their organ development and even their brain development," Lou said.

It isn't just chemical additives that are added directly to food that are a problem; it's the chemicals that are used to coat the inside of aluminum cans and the chemicals in plastic packaging that can leach into food. Lou said one thing everyone should avoid is heating food in the microwave in plastic containers.

"We try not to microwave things in plastic containers; we use glass and things that are more inert just so that the things in the plastic don't get into our food," said Lou. "I think the message is just, think about what your kids are exposed to because their bodies are so small the amount that they're exposed to has a bigger impact."

Other recommendations from the academy include:

Eat fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables when possible
Limit processed meats, especially those with nitrates
Use alternatives to plastics for food storage
Avoid placing plastics in the dishwasher
Wash all fruits and vegetables that can't be peeled

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