When we began our journey of using food for health many years ago, I was shocked as I learned about the food additives list for processed and pre-packaged foods. Today, we are given more information about the food additives and preservatives on food labels. It’s a good thing but in spite of this, there are many people who still aren’t aware of the major culprits causing chaos in cuisine.
The laws governing the food additives list on labels are full of holes. As you might have noticed, finding and identifying them on the food label can be almost impossible. They’re often hidden under unpronounceable words, grouped together under a general name, even codes are used to hide them. That’s if you can read the tiny words. I have trifocals and still have a hard time reading some labels.
Don’t be fooled by advertising jargon. Words like natural or plant-derived are designed to purposely fool us into thinking something is good for us. These things are often just as toxic to the human body as the hundreds of chemicals used in pre-packaged, processed foods.
How many people do you know who have food allergies? I’m not talking about those who have allergies to raw foods like peanuts, corn or even shellfish. The food allergies I’m talking about stem directly from ingredients on the food additives list. We’re probably all familiar with MSG and it’s many side effects from weight gain to personality disorders.
In our modern world of convenience foods, there is a dangerous trade-off. Most, if not all of these food items are not food at all, they are food like. Why do I say this? Because food is what fuels life for the human body. It’s made from raw ingredients which my grandmother could pronounce.
If you can’t pronounce it or recognize it as a plant or animal by its name, why would it be good for your body? Health experts disagree on many things, but on avoiding the chemicals found in pre-packaged, processed foods, they almost all agree. It’s a scary thing to realize the dangerous things on the food additives list can also be found in meat, dairy, and even the produce section of your local supermarket!
We don’t purchase pre-packaged foods or processed foods as most American shoppers do. We do purchase organic coconut-peanut butter and ketchup. We also allow ourselves an organic chia/quinoa chip. We chose these products we because of their simple ingredients. No preservatives and nothing from the food additives list. Knowing what’s in your food is as important as knowing what are toxins in your home.
The best way to avoid exposure to these toxins is to eat a whole foods diet. Using various food preservation methods will ensure you have whole foods available. However, I realize we all have to make the personal decision of what we feed our families. To make it easier for you to recognize the most widely used, I’ve put together the top 13 from the food additives list to avoid. You may want to print out the infographic and take it shopping with you.
1. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
Although it may sound like a natural product, it isn’t. High fructose corn syrup is a highly processed artificial sweetener. I didn’t include it in the artificial sweeteners list because it is the top source of empty calories in American food products. As a matter of fact, it’s found in almost all processed food items.
It can be found in any processed food products, including bread, cereal, yogurt, canned goods, fruit cups, soft drinks and salad dressings. You see where this list could go on and on.
2. Partially Hydrogenated Oil and Trans Fat
Partially hydrogenated oil is the main source of trans fat in the American diet. This culprit from the food additives list is used widely because it increases the shelf-life of foods. It’s cost effective for manufacturers which makes it attractive to them at a high cost to consumer health.
Trans fats aren’t easily processed by the body and cause a long list of heart-related issues. I think it’s important to know that even a label which says “Trans Fat-Free” may not be true. Food products containing partially hydrogenated oils with less than 0.5g of trans fat per serving can legally read “free.” Please read your labels, they don’t tell us everything thing, but they do tell us more than we would know without them.
It can be found in margarine, bread, almost all baked goods including crackers and cookies; vegetable oils and shortenings; mayonnaise and salad dressings … just to get started.
|Common Artificial Sweetners||Food Dyes|
|Nutrasweet – Contains Aspartame||Blue #1 & #2|
|Equal – Contains Aspartame||Red #3 & #40|
|Splenda – Sucralose||Yellow #6|
|Truvia – Stevia/Rebaudioside||Yellow Tartrazine|
|PureVia – Stevia/Rebaudioside|
|Sweet One – Acesulfame Potassium|
3. Artificial Sweeteners
When we say artificial sweeteners, aspartame, AKA E951, NutraSweet, and Equal, are the first to mind. Aspartame is known to cause cancer and has more reported reactions than other additives on the food additives list combined.
As a neurotoxin, aspartame causes short term memory lapses and impairs mental function in a number of ways. It’s associated with Alzheimer’s, depression, panic attacks, and seizures, just to name a few. My husband had severe migraines from even the tiniest amount of it. This is what caused me to investigate this terrible food additive over 10 years ago.
Saccharin, AKA Sweet’N Low, causes cancer, hormonal imbalance, heart disease, inflammation (a killer to all body systems), and even contributes to the development of diabetes in the body.
Acesulfame K (Potassium) is not as well known as aspartame and saccharin, but it’s just as deadly. It’s known to cause cancer, tumors, memory lapses, headaches, and respiratory distress just to name a few.
These can be found in anything labeled sugar-free. These include sodas, desserts, gum, cereals, vitamins … absolutely anything labeled “sugar-free.”
4. Food Colorings
Wow, where to even start with this one? In some countries, such as Norway and France, most of these have been banned. They are known to contribute to behavioral issues in children and adults. Some violent crimes have been associated with severe reactions to food colorings.
They are known to lower IQ and cause development problems in the young. They also cause cancers, especially of the thyroid and lymph system and cause interference in the central nervous system.
Especially worth noting are Blue #1 and #2 AKA E133.
They can be found in sodas, candy, cereals, juice drinks and sports drinks.
Red #3 and #40 AKA E124 – Although it was banned in the U.S. in 1990 from “some” food and cosmetic products, it can still be found on the shelf. Companies are allowed to use it until the existing supply is used up and that was almost 30 years ago.
It can be found in canned fruit and fruit cups, pie fillings, ice cream, candy, frostings and baked goods.
Yellow #6 AKA E110 and Yellow Tartrazine AKA E102
It can be found in American processed cheese like products including boxed macaroni and cheese, candy and sodas.
5. Monosodium Glutamate AKA MSG and E621
MSG has been in the news so much because of the extreme damage it has caused to many people. It’s referred to as an excitotoxin because it overstimulates cells in the body to the point of death to the cell. It’s also a neurotoxin affecting neurological pathways of the central nervous system. When MSG is consumed on a regular basis, it causes depression, headaches, disorientation, and lethargy.
While the death of cells may not sound like much to some, there is no regulating how many it kills or damages. Frequent consumption can destroy entire organ systems. In the brain, MSG blocks the signal from the stomach to the brain signifying that you’re full when eating.
It is used to enhance the flavor of foods such as soups, chips, salad dressings, restaurant foods especially Chinese food, most all snack foods, lunch meats, seasonings and frozen food products.
6. Sodium Sulfite AKA E221
Sodium Sulfite is a preservative from the food additives list. It’s most often used in wines and in most processed food. Sulfite sensitivities are common. People with asthma or other respiratory issues are most affected. If you’re sensitive to sodium sulfite, you will experience headaches, rashes, breathing difficulty and, in some cases, death from respiratory failure leading to a heart attack.
It is most commonly found in wine, dried fruits, some beer (look for wine and beer with “sulfite free”), bottled lemon or lime juice and chips.
7. Potassium Bromate
Have you seen the words bromated or unbromated on your flour bag? Potassium bromate is used to increase the volume of some white flour and flour-based products like breads. It’s known to cause cancer in lab animals and humans.
It can be found in any food product which has flour in it.
8. Sodium Nitrate AKA Sodium Nitrite
Sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite, as you may see it on the label, is a preservative used in processed meat products to enhance color and flavor. It may sound harmless but it’s a well known carcinogenic. Because it damages the liver and pancreas, in particular, it’s considered dangerous to human life.
The USDA “tried to ban Sodium Nitrite in the 1970s, however, the move was vetoed by food manufacturers.” I find this statement difficult to accept. You “tried” and were “vetoed”? How does that happen? Food manufacturers stated they had no alternative to this additive and could not otherwise preserve processed meats.
It can be found in bacon, ham, lunch meats, smoked fish, any processed or cured meat
9. BHA and BHT AKA E320
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are both preservatives. It’s not a color enhancer like Sodium Nitrate. Instead, it’s a color fixator. It’s used to keep food from changing color, losing flavor and going bad.
Both of these affect the neurological system resulting in behavioral changes and cancer.
It can be found in chips, cereals, enriched rice products, vegetable oils, shortening and gum.
10. Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH):
rBGH is thought to increase milk production in cows. It’s a genetically engineered alternative to natural growth hormones. rBGH is known to cause cancer and pervert natural growth and development in humans. The young are especially susceptible.
It can be found in beef, milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream and any dairy based product. You’ll see many dairy product labels stating “No rBGH used or given.”
11. Artificial Flavoring
The FDA has left the term “flavor” more or less open to interpretation by the manufacturer. You have no idea from the label what makes up the “flavoring” used in the product. This is a serious problem because of the number of food allergies these undisclosed ingredients cause.
Reactions range from rashes, hives, respiratory issues, bowel problems, to depression and mood disorders.
These flavorings contain undisclosed “incidental additives.” The term “incidental additives” refers to additives which the manufacturers aren’t required to reveal on food labels. Flavorings may be made up of more than 100 different substances with up to 90% of these substances being non-related to flavoring. Some of these are solvents and emulsifiers. These are hidden in the “incidental additive” term.
The label may even read “natural” flavorings which, you may be shocked to know, usually contain artificial chemicals like BHA and propylene glycol. GMO crops are used under the “natural” umbrella in flavoring extracts. The term natural is mistakenly assumed as good by the American consumer. In reality, it’s meaningless. The FDA hasn’t even defined what it means and even if they did, it would certainly not be to the consumer’s benefit.
Since it’s derived from red seaweed, you would naturally assume it’s good for you. No, it’s not. It has no nutritional value at all. Actually, it has been shown to cause inflammation in the body which leads to all manner of sickness and disease. It also has been linked to bleeding ulcers and ulcerative colitis.
It’s used to stabilize beverages and make some food products thick. Manufacturers could eliminate it from their food products if they would add “Shake Well Before Use” to the labels of products they feel they have to use it in. They add to make it so you don’t have to shake it…really? Is it hard to do shake something before opening?
It can be found in yogurt, yogurt drinks, almond milk, coconut milk, creamers, infant formulas, and lunch meats.
I want to give a special word here on reading labels for those of you who buy organic or non-GMO foods. Just because a food product is organic or non-GMO doesn’t mean you don’t need to read the label. This is just one example of the ingredients which can be found in these products which are not in violation of the FDA organic or non-GMO labeling laws but are still bad for you. Please, ALWAYS read the label if you purchase readymade food products.
13. Sulfur Dioxide AKA E220
All sulfur additives on the food additives list are considered toxins and are banned from use on raw fruits and veggies here in the United States. They aren’t banned from processed, pre-packaged foods though.
These additives cause respiratory problems, especially in those who already have a respiratory disease such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis. They cause sudden drops in blood pressure leading to passing out or even cardiac distress. There have been reported cases of anaphylactic shock and death.
It can be found in soda, dried fruits, some beer and processed potato products like chips and instant potatoes.
How Can We Avoid Dangerous Food Additives?
The best way to avoid food additives is to eat a whole foods diet or cooking from scratch. A whole foods diet is eating foods as close to their natural state as possible. Cooking from scratch is just that. You start with raw ingredients and create healthy dinner recipes.
In our busy society, some people don’t believe this is possible for them. It does take a little extra planning and time, but the benefits are well worth it.
If you just can’t or choose not to eat a whole foods diet or cook from scratch, here are a few tips to help you avoid some of the items on the food additives list.
- Don’t eat fast foods.
- Don’t drinks sodas or high sugar juice.s
- Read the labels and know what you’re reading.
- Eat more fruits and veggies.
- Purchase meat and dairy products labeled hormone free and preservative free.
If you purchase processed, pre-packaged foods, go to your cupboards and read the labels. How many of these from the food additives list do you find?
Safe and Happy Journey,
Rhonda and The Pack