Businesses in Renfrewshire have been alerted to concerns surrounding the potential side-effects of slush ice drinks in young children.

It comes after Food Standards Scotland (FSS) advised the products shouldn’t be sold to children aged four and under and retailers shouldn’t offer free refill promotions to under-10s.

Updated guidance was issued last year after a risk assessment identified that young children could suffer from headaches and sickness caused by exposure to glycerol – an ingredient often used to create the ‘slush’ effect.

On the back of that, the council’s environmental health business regulation team has visited soft plays, cinemas and premises located near schools and nurseries to relay the relevant information and advice.

Councillor Gillian Graham, Labour group education spokesperson, described the steps taken by the local authority as “timely and sensible”.

She said: “There have been a number of stories in the national media of children becoming ill as a result of ‘slush’ iced drinks.

“We now know that slush drinks can contain glycerol to maintain their ‘slushiness’ and whilst glycerol is not toxic in small quantities, there are concerns about its effect on young children if they drink large quantities over a short period of time.

“Food Standards Scotland’s advice is that slush ice drinks should not be sold to children under four years old and only in single servings to under-10s.

“I therefore welcome the decision of the council’s environmental health business regulation team to carry out visits to businesses selling ‘slush’ ice drinks.

“Targeting businesses near to schools, nurseries and indoor soft play to raise awareness of national guidance is, I believe, a timely and sensible approach.”

In August, FSS said it was aware of two cases in Scotland, in 2021 and 2022, where children were hospitalised because of glycerol intoxication.

At the time it explained that at very high levels of exposure – typically when several of the products are drunk by a child in a short space of time – glycerol intoxication could cause shock, hypoglycaemia and loss of consciousness.

An update on the issue has been included in a report to the council’s communities and housing policy board on Tuesday.

It said: “The environmental health business regulation team carried out a recent intervention to businesses selling ‘slush’ ice drinks.

“This is due to reports of children becoming ill following consumption of these products.

“Glycerol is a permitted additive in food products and has the E number (E422).

“It is widely used in the food industry as a sweetener, thickening agent and preservative.

“It is a key ingredient in the production of slush ice drinks due to it serving the function of maintaining the ‘slush’ properties [that] prevent the liquid freezing solid.

“Although glycerol is generally of low toxicity, there are concerns about the effect on young children when large quantities are consumed over a short period of time.”