It may be hard to hear for those of us who grew up on fortified breakfast cereals and tend to be sentimental about our old -- and possibly current -- favorites.
Nevertheless we need to face up to the fact that almost half of children eight years of age and younger in the United States are getting too much vitamin A, niacin and zinc from their morning cereal as well as from snack bars.
The Environmental Working Group has determined that this is the result of food fortification that is misguided, nutritional labeling that is obsolete, and marketing strategies that are meant to confuse kids and parents. The report can be read here.
Out of 1550 cereals and 1000 snack bars that were evaluated by EWG, 114 cereals were fortified with 30 percent or more of the Daily Value for adults for vitamin A, niacin and/or zinc.
It was also discovered that 27 snack bar brands were fortified with 50 percent or more of the Daily Value for adults of vitamin A, niacin, and/or zinc.
This can lead to health issues both long and short term.
Too much vitamin A can result in liver damage, hair loss and abnormalities of the skeleton. In pregnant women, fetal abnormalities can develop. Older Americans can end up with hip fractures and osteoporosis.
Too much zinc can hinder absorption of copper, cause immune dysfunction, and damage both red and white blood cells.
Data for this research came from the Nutrition Facts labels compiled by FoodEssentials.
The Environmental Working Group said that the federal labeling system in common use is based on Daily Values that are outmoded, dating from 1968. And these Daily Values were not determined for children but for adults at that time.
Ironically, this problematic over-fortification has been used as a selling point to encourage parents to buy these foods for their children.
The FDA is accepting comments from the public regarding potential changes to Nutrition Facts labels at the present time.