Few pleasures rival the refreshing sensation of an ice-cold slushy. However, the seemingly innocent delight has taken a terrifying turn for two mothers, Victoria Anderson, and Beth Green, who discovered the scary side effects of this beloved beverage on their young children.
Mums’ slushy warning
Victoria Anderson, a Scotland mum faced an emergency while out shopping at the beginning of January. Her three-year-old son, Angus, asked for a raspberry slushie and half an hour later, they were rushing to the emergency ward. She shared her experience in hopes to warn other mothers of the dangers of slushies.
While they were walking around the stores, little Angus started moaning. Victoria reassured him they would be heading home shortly but after the second time, she turned around expecting to find the boy having a tantrum, but Angus was having a seizure.
Cold and limp
Panicked, she screamed for someone to call an ambulance. The Port Glasgow mum of five reported Angus went stone cold and limp as paramedics began working on the youngster.
The paramedics reported Angus had dangerously low sugar levels and rushed him to Glasgow hospital where he remained unconscious for two hours. Once he woke up, he was in and out of consciousness. After asking Victoria what Angus had to eat and drink, they determined the cause was glycerol toxicity. They were certain the slushie was to blame.
Hallucinations and clawing his face
Now Victoria is calling for an age limit to be placed on selling slushies to youngsters. Her words echo those of another mum, Beth Green, who experienced a similar terror back in October.
24-year-old Nuneaton mum Beth Green took her four-year-old son, Albie, bowling with a friend after school where he had a strawberry slushie. Within 30 minutes, Beth remarked Albie appeared tired and agitated. Then he began hallucinating, clawing at his face and falling in and out of consciousness.
The young boy was rushed to the hospital where the doctors discovered his heartbeat was extremely slow and his sugar levels severely low. At one stage Beth, and her partner Fred, feared their son wouldn’t make it. The doctors told them if Beth hadn’t rushed Albie to hospital, it would have been fatal.
Months after the incident, the parents found out Albie’s sudden illness was due to glycerol intolerance. It wasn’t the first time he’d ever had a slushie, but he’d never reacted to this. It was a harrowing experience for the young parents.
Beth strongly believes the minimum age limit for slushies should be ten years old.
So, what is Glycerol and why is it dangerous?
Glycerol is a sweetener in slushies to prevent freezing, maintaining their desired consistency. Naturally present in foods like honey and beer, it is also added to treats such as marshmallows and chewing gum.
When consumed in small quantities, it is generally harmless, except for those with intolerances or allergies.
However, for toddlers, the impact of slushies can resemble drunkenness due to their lower body weights, leading to potential headaches and sickness.
In response to this concern, the Food Standard Agency (FSA) released voluntary industry guidance in August 2023, recommending against selling slushies to children aged four and under and limiting free refills.
Adam Hardgrave, head of additives at the regulator, emphasised the mild nature of glycerol intoxication symptoms, urging parents to be aware of the risks, especially with high consumption levels. There is a likelihood of under-reporting as parents may attribute nausea and headaches to other factors.
The FSA appreciates manufacturers who have taken measures to reduce glycerol levels and those committed to adopting the new guidelines.
In severe instances, glycerol intoxication can induce shock in children, where the circulatory system fails to pump oxygen-rich blood, depriving vital organs of necessary resources.
Shock symptoms include pale, cold, clammy skin, sweating, rapid or shallow breathing, weakness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, extreme thirst, yawning, and sighing.
Additionally, glycerol intoxication can lead to hypoglycaemia, characterised by hunger, dizziness, anxious or irritable feelings, sweating, shaking, tingling lips, heart palpitations, fatigue, weakness, blurred vision, and confusion.
As both Angus and Albie embark on the road to recovery, their families breathe sighs of relief. The slushy horror experienced by these mothers serves as a poignant warning about the potential dangers of glycerol in slushies, particularly for young children.
The FSA’s guidelines aim to mitigate these risks, urging parents, manufacturers, and the industry to prioritise children’s well-being in the enjoyment of this popular summer treat.