Credit sdgamez via GettyImages_toddler with slush

Ed Heaver, Founder and CEO, Serve Legal

Ed Heaver, co-founder and CEO of Serve Legal

Slushies, those colourful icy treats that kids love so much, may seem harmless at first glance. But recent revelations about their high glycerol content have shed light on a potential danger, especially for children under fours years of age. Glycerol, listed as E422 in ingredients, serves a crucial role in maintaining the slushy consistency, preventing the liquid from freezing solid. However, when consumed in large quantities over a short period of time, especially by young children, it can pose serious health risks.

Research indicates that glycerol intoxication, triggered by excessive slushie consumption, can lead to severe consequences like shock, hypoglycemia, and even loss of consciousness. Serve Legal conducted mystery audits to gauge industry awareness and found some alarming gaps. Surprisingly, in the audits conducted thus far in 2024, only 40% of instances saw staff advising against slushie consumption for under-fours, with formal guidance regarding the presence of glycerol and its associated risks being offered in just 47% of cases.

While warnings on slushie machines were present 69% of the time, they didn’t always translate to staff interaction with customers, indicating a disconnect.

Slushies may be a childhood favourite, but the risks associated with their glycerol content cannot be overlooked, especially for young children. As an industry, we need to ensure that both staff and customers are well-informed about these risks and take proactive measures to protect the health of our youngest consumers.

Industry Action

In response to the concerning findings regarding slushie consumption and glycerol risks, the industry must take decisive action to safeguard the well-being of consumers, particularly young children. Here are some proactive solutions we suggest:

1. Adherence to volantary guidelines issued by regulatory bodies like the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS).

2. Manufacturers and vendors should explore ways to reduce the glycerol content in slushie products. Reformulating recipes to minimise glycerol while maintaining the desired slushie texture can help mitigate health risks associated with overconsumption.

3. Businesses must prominently display warnings about the dangers of glycerol consumption, especially for children under four.

4. Proper training should be provided to educate staff members about the potential health hazards of glycerol in slushies. Staff must be equipped to identify customers at risk, such as parents purchasing slushies for young children, and provide appropriate guidance and alternatives.

5. Implementing age-targeted promotions can help prevent excessive slushie consumption amongst vulnerable age groups. For example, no free refills should be given to children under 10 to discourage overconsumption while still allowing older children to enjoy the treats responsibly.


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Serve Legal is a provider of ID and compliance testing services in the UK & Ireland.