Understanding Food Additives- Are They Safe?

Understanding Food Additives Food Additives Everywhere July 28, 2010- Understanding food additives has really become a tough task. First of all because different people talk differently about all types of food additives. Secondly, we come across various research reports talking altogether differently about the same food additive- one says its a safe additive and the others say it is not a safe food additive. Thirdly, even if we know that a certain food additive is not safe and one should avoid it, we are totally at a loss of doing anything- cause these days, food additives are found in almost all foodstuff sold anywhere! So, what to do about understanding food additives and to ensure that they are safe for us? Read on to know the same.

Understanding Food Additives Safety by Law

By law, only permitted food additives can be used. There are different food authorities in various countries like FDA in USA, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that provides E numbers to all the additives and such other agencies. Generally, before becoming permitted food additives, they must be subjected to many tests before they are allowed to be used for foodstuff. A wide range of tests are done on animals as well as other tests have also been devised to assess every conceivable risk of food additives to the consumer. These food safety tests assess how the additives react in the body and also work to find any toxic effects at the levels the additive is to be used in foods. However, test on all segments of human population is not possible before providing food safety certificates and categorizing a safe food additive. So, what is the solution then, for avoiding the harmful effects of food additives? There are two ways for this- one, to know what all are the safe additives and what food additives are extremely risky. Second, minimizing the harmful effects of food additives by taking certain precautions.

List of Safe Food Additives

We cannot altogether avoid packaged, canned and prepared foods and all of them contain food additives to help preserve their shelf life. On an average, everyone of us consume over 100 pounds of additives per year. Many additives like those in refined sugar, corn syrup, salt and processed foods such as MSG effects are detrimental to our health. The chemical food additives are generally not safe. However, not all food additives are toxic. Some that are made from wholesome, natural products are safe food additives but their inclusion in diet should still be kept to a minimum. Here is the list of generally safe additives

  • Annatto
  • Beet juice
  • Beet powder
  • Beta-carotene or carotene
  • Citric acid
  • Gelatin
  • Herbs and spices
  • Lactic acid
  • Lecithin
  • Minerals
  • Natural oils and extracts (e.g. almond oil, vanilla extract)
  • Natural sweeteners
  • Pectin
  • Sea salt
  • Natural rock salt
  • Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
  • Sorbic acid
  • Vegetable glycerin
  • Vitamins
  • Yeast

However, we cannot expect our every food stuff to contain just the safe food additives howsoever careful we remain while reading the labels. So, we must also take efforts to minimize the risk of food additives by taking certain steps described as follows.

How to Make Food Additives Safe?

  • To minimize the risk of food additives, take the following steps
  • Rinse and scrub fresh fruits and vegetables before consuming them.
  • Ensure to tear off outer leaves of leafy vegetables.
  • Remove the skin and fat from meat, fish and poultry, especially if they had been preserved and frozen.
  • Leave out the fat while cooking meat, fish and poultry as many food contaminants dissolve in fat.
  • Know about the harmful food additives and try to avoid them while buying food stuff. Insist on buying only those that have safe food additives in them. This was a brief note on understanding food additives and their safety and how to reduce the risks of unsafe food additives. Now, read about Side Effects of Harmful Food Preservatives

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