They are universally loved by children.
However, frozen slushie-based drinks can be dangerous, so much so that regulators recommend they should not be sold to children under four years old.
The safety of the drinks has been highlighted following news that two babies, one aged three and the other aged four, were hospitalized after consuming them.
In both cases, doctors blamed glycerol, an additive hidden in children’s drinks sold in movie theaters, stores and playgrounds.
FSA bosses based their recommendations on a 350ml drink, similar to those available in shops and cinemas across the UK.
Glycerol, or E422, gives the drink the desired slushy effect, preventing frozen drinks from freezing and acts as a sugar-free sweetener.
While slightly toxic to humans, the amount typically contained in slushies is so small that regular consumption poses little danger to adults and older children.
Their bodies can process it before glycerol levels build up and become a problem, causing poisoning.
However, the same is not true for younger children.
Due to their much smaller body weight, the amount of glycerol needed to cause a serious health emergency is much less.
In theory, just a 350ml drink with the highest levels of glycerol could push children under 4 years old over the “safe” threshold.
But health authorities say the most likely scenario for glycerol poisoning comes from younger children quickly consuming several E422-laden drinks.
Mild signs of glycerol poisoning include vomiting and headaches.
However, it can cause shock in people, where the circulatory system that pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout the body begins to fail, depriving vital organs of what they need to function.
Signs of shock include pale, cold, clammy skin, as well as sweating, rapid or shallow breathing, weakness or dizziness, nausea and possible vomiting, extreme thirst, and yawning and sighing.
Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is another effect of glycerol poisoning.
Symptoms include hunger, dizziness, feeling anxious or irritable, sweating, shaking, tingling lips, heart palpations, fatigue and weakness, blurred vision, and confusion.
In its most severe stage, hypoglycemia can cause seizures and loss of consciousness.
Beth Green, 24, from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, revealed her unconscious baby was hospitalized and feared he would die within an hour of drinking an ice-cold drink.
Beth became increasingly concerned when Albie began “hallucinating” and “scratching his face,” prompting the mother to rush him to the hospital.
Shock and hypoglycemia can be life-threatening and are considered medical emergencies requiring urgent medical attention.
Two recent cases have highlighted how dangerous glycerol poisoning can be.
Beth Green, 24, from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, had her four-year-old son knocked unconscious after drinking a strawberry-flavoured slushy on a trip to the bowling after school in October last year.
She became increasingly concerned after Albie began “hallucinating” and “scratching his face”, prompting her to rush him to the hospital.
There doctors had to begin resuscitation because Albie’s blood sugar levels had fallen to dangerous levels.
At one point, his heartbeat became so slow that his parents thought he was going to die.
Doctors later told the couple that if they hadn’t taken Albie to the hospital right there, he would have died.
Beth’s account came just days after Scottish mum Victoria Anderson told how her three-year-old son Angus almost died in January after drinking a slushie last month.
The 29-year-old, from Port Glasgow, Inverclyde, had taken her youngest son, Angus, three, and his older brother shopping on January 4.
Not long after the trio ventured out, Angus ordered a raspberry-flavored slushy after spotting the bright pink frozen drink while at a corner store.
Unaware of the danger, Victoria bought the drink for her son, who had “never had a slushy before.”
About 30 minutes later, while in another store, the three-year-old boy unexpectedly collapsed and became unconscious.
Victoria said Angus’ body was limp and “stone cold” when paramedics attended the scene and tried to revive him after his blood sugar level dropped dangerously low.
Angus was rushed to Glasgow Children’s Hospital, where he remained unconscious for two hours.
Fortunately, both children received the medical care they needed.
The cases come months after British food safety regulators issued guidance that slushy drinks should not be sold to children aged four and under.
A mother has issued an urgent warning about selling slushies to children after her young son suffered a “seizure” before falling unconscious after drinking the frozen drink.
Mother Victoria Anderson, 29, with father Sean Donnelly, 29, and sons Angus (left), 3, and Archie (right), 5.
The Food Safety Agency (FSA) also recommended that retailers should not refill slushies for free to children under 10.
It also called on slushie manufacturers to commit to adding only minimal glycerol to their products.
In that guidance, published in August, the FSA said it would be “monitoring” the extent to which the industry was following its advice and leaving the door open to take further action in the future.
Most UK slushies do not detail glycerol levels on their drinks packaging, but the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) says all its members have followed the new guidance.
The FSA advice was based on a slushie containing 50,000 mg/l glycerol.
Their alert was prompted by two previous cases of glycerol poisoning in Scotland, one each in 2021 and 2022.
At the time, the FSA added that mild cases of glycerol poisoning in children, which do not produce such dramatic, life-threatening symptoms and instead only cause nausea and headaches, were probably underreported.
Glycerol is also added to pre-cooked pasta, rice and breakfast cereals, but in much smaller quantities and is therefore not considered a danger to children.