Children's food under scrutiny Processes, from pesticides and animal feed through to irradiation and additives, are argued to have a more significant impact on children's health, and school snack bars and convenience foods have become policy battlegrounds for real food and health priorities, writes Judy Larkin. Concern over the nutritional benefits of processed foods escalated earlier this year with the Consumers' Association's report on the content of baby foods, and the Food Commission study, Children's Food Examined. Campaign groups are now also using existing concerns about children's nutritional health as a platform for creating new fears about the long term effects of processed foods ­ part of a concerted attack on large scale producers. They argue that children could be at risk from a lifetime of exposure to a combination of chemical processes. This argument has been imported from the longer running pure food campaign in the US, where attacks on food processing contributed to revised legislation in 1996. It dismisses the fact that current processing practices are tightly regulated and deemed safe on the basis of scientific studies, by arguing that the impact on children is more difficult to predict, and that we therefore need to take a precautionary approach. Emphasising children's health issues is not only a way to reject existing knowledge on the safety of processed foods; campaigners are aware that the best way to influence adults' shopping behaviour is to direct concerns towards their children. Judy Larkin is co-director of reputation risk management specialists Regester Larkin {{COVER FEATURE }}