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Sunday, 26 December, 1999, 16:05 GMT
Soft drink turned toddler 'yellow'

Glan Clwyd Hospital A four-year-old girl was taken to Glan Clwyd Hospital after she turned yellow

The makers of one of Britain's top-selling soft drinks admitted too much of it could send kids yellow after warnings from a north Wales doctor.

Drink manufacturers American conglomerate Procter and Gamble were responding to reports from a paediatrician that a four-year-old he saw was a "yellowy colour" after drinking too much Sunny Delight.

Dr Duncan Cameron, from Glan Clywd hospital near Rhyl had the child brought to him after her hands and face turned bright orange and yellow.

Carrot juice

The child had been drinking 1.5 litres of the popular drink a day and analysis revealed that her condition was caused by beta carotene, an additive which boosts the drinks orange colour and vitamin A content.

But a spokeswoman for Procter and Gamble, which produces mainly household products, said the child in question was drinking "too much" and would have suffered the same effects with carrot juice.

However, she said there were no safety risks and those affected would return to a normal colour in a few weeks.

Carotene is produced by plants such as carrots and pumpkins giving them a golden tone.

Every 100ml of Sunny Delight contains a small quantity - 120 microgrammes - of Beta carotene, about 15% of the recommended daily intake for an adult.

Medical journals

A child's body would not be able to cope with the levels in 1.5 litres of the drink, which would represent more than twice the daily adult intake and the pigment would be deposited in the skin and other organs.

Dr Cameron intended to warn other doctors with letters to medical journals.

The revelation comes as the company's current television advertisement for the product shows two white snowmen turning yellow after raiding a fridge for Sunny Delight.

A spokesperson for Sunny Delight, which despite only launching in the spring of last year sells more than 136 million a year, said the doctor had not contacted them directly.


She said: "The child apparently drank 1.5 litres per day. That would be more than the total daily fluid intake of a child of that age and you would expect a mix of different drinks, not just one type.

"This is excessive consumption and consumption on that scale would lead to a yellowing of the skin because of the beta carotene, in the same way as drinking too much carrot juice or orange juice would.

"The tanning tablets we use before going on holiday is beta carotene and works in much the same way.

"The condition is harmless, there is no health risk and skin will return to normal in a few weeks."

However, parents may be concerned about another reported side effect of beta carotene - upset stomachs with flatulence.

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