The FSA issued a new industry guideline, which states that glycerol should not be used in the slush-ice drink sold to children under four years of age.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA), in an advisory to the industry, has published voluntary industry guidelines on the use of glycerol as a preservative in slush ice drinks. It has also stated that these drinks should not be sold to children under four years old.

The Agency also advised that manufacturers should tell retailers not to offer “free refill promotions for under-10s” in order to protect young children from being exposed to excessive amounts of glycerol.

The FSA conducted a risk assessment and found that children under this age group “may experience headaches or sickness due to exposure to glycerol.” The Agency reported that they are aware of two cases (in Scotland in 2021 and 2022) in which children were hospitalized due to glycerol poisoning.

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The FSA stated that “at very high levels, glycerol could cause hypoglycaemia, shock and loss of consciousness.”

Adam Hardgrave (FSA Head of Additives) commented on the new guidance: “While the symptoms are mild in most cases, it’s important for parents to be aware of the risks, especially at high levels.

Parents may mistakenly attribute headaches and nausea to other causes. We thank those manufacturers who took steps to reduce glycerol levels, as well as those who told us that they would be following our new guidelines.

According to the FSA, glycerol can be found in many foods but is used in much smaller quantities in slush drinks. Glycerol can be used to replace sugar in glasses for the slushy effect. In its new guidance, the FSA asks that businesses only use glycerol in “the minimum quantity” necessary to achieve this result.

The FSA states that those over the age of 4 are unlikely to experience any negative effects after drinking one slushy drink. The FSA explained that the impact of glycerol depends on body weight.

The Agency said it would reevaluate the industry guidelines if the maximum glycerol levels used by the industry decreased.