Healthy chips claim is crackers
By MARY MANN m firstname.lastname@example.org PARENTS trying to give their kids healthier snack food may actually risk making their children sick.
Recent tests by the NSW Food Authority have revealed some types of vegie chips, a favourite amongst many health-conscious locals, can cause vomiting, nausea and weakness.
NSW Health yesterday put out a warning to customers, particularly children, to only eat moderate amounts of cassava-based vegetable chips and crackers – no more than 100 grams each day.
When eaten in excess, these products can cause cyanide to build up in the body and make you sick.
Mathew Stillone, assistant manager at Rainbow Wholefoods in Lismore, said he had already taken one brand of vegie chips off his shelves.
“The supplier recalled it earlier this year because of the same thing,” he said.
“Vegie chips are a huge seller with us, people come in and buy packets every day.
“A lot of our customers come in for gluten-free products and get the gluten-free chips at the same time.”
Mr Stillone said it was ‘pretty scary’, but it would not turn him off eating a packet every now and then.
“I’m sure it will turn a lot of people off the chips, and it will affect our sales,” he said.
Vegie chip fan Jana Pawlus, of Lismore, said the health scare wouldn’t stop her from indulging in a packet of vegie chips from time-to-time.
“It’s just like anything, you have to have it in moderation,” she said.
Dr Lisa Szabo, chief scientist of the NSW Food Authority, said the problem was first found in gluten-free vegetable crackers when they were voluntarily recalled on January 12.
“While there have been no reports of anyone becoming ill from eating the product, the test results revealed some batches could potentially pose a public health risk,” she said.
She said risk assessments by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) revealed unacceptable levels of naturally-occurring cyanogenic glycosides in a number of cassava-based products, which when eaten could cause cyanide to form in the gut at levels considered unsafe, particularly for children.
NSW chief health officer Dr Denise Robinson said children were most at risk from over-indulgence of vegie chips, so their intake should be closely monitored.
The authority has requested FSANZ to develop urgently a standard specifying the maximum level of cyanogenic glycosides permitted in cassava-based vegetable chip and cracker products.