Fruit juices drunk by millions of children each day could contain a harmful chemical linked to cancer, scientists have warned.
Researchers have found high levels of antimony - which can be lethal in large doses - in many popular brands. Scientists from the University of Copenhagen found that bottles of fruit juice and squash contained up to 2.5 times more of the substance as is deemed 'safe' in tap water, under EU guidelines. In some cases the levels of antimony were ten times higher.
The scientists believe that the chemical is leaching its way into the fruit juice from the plastic bottles which hold it. Previous research found traces of the chemical in bottled mineral water which experts believed was leaching in from the plastic container. The team has expressed 'concern' over their findings, published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, which they say raises fears for the health of millions of children. They have called for an investigation 'straight away'. The substance can cause cancer, heart and lung problems, according to previous studies.
Although the scientists have not specifically named any brands, the chemicals are believed to have been found in 16 of the most popular blackcurrant and strawberry squash and fruit drinks consumed by children.