Food additives are substances added to food to preserve flavour or enhance its taste and appearance, they are generally not added for nutritional value.
Some additives have been used for centuries, for example, preserving food by pickling with vinegar, salting, as with bacon, preserving sweets or using sulphur dioxide as in some wines.
With the advent of processed foods in the second half of the 20th century, many more additives have been introduced, of both natural and artificial origin.
Manufacturers that use artificial additives are the ones that concern us and natural doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s ok. Some adverse reactions of natural flavours or colouring can be worse than artificial additives.
All additives have a function,
•to enhance colour to make it look better,
•to enhance flavour to make it taste better so you buy more, or
•to preserve our food to make it last longer on the supermarket and our pantry shelves.
It is also important to remember that not all additives are bad it is just knowing the ones that are. Additives are listed in the ingredients on the product. We know them as the small numbers or the really long words listed. Sometimes you might see them, or hear them referred to as ‘E’ numbers.The ‘E’ stands for European – in Australia, we use the same numbers for the same additives but we just leave the ‘E’ off.
Why should I avoid additives?
There are many reasons to avoid certain food additives.
One is the way they are tested, food additives are tested in isolation so no one really knows what the ‘chemical reaction’ is if two or more are used together.
Additives have numerous side affects effecting each and every person differently. Some people are sensitive to particular food additives and may have reactions like hives, nausea, headaches and migraines, diarrhoea, stomach issues and depression. Now stop and think if you ever suffer from any of these symptoms?
There is significant evidence that some additives can cause hyperactivity and behavioural problems in children. Behavioural changes aren’t usually considered by experts, who advise the governments on food safety issues, so the problems associated with many of these additives can be missed. Additives are also tested on adult body mass, not children’s. What may be safe for an adult will probably not be safe for children as they are a lot smaller than us.
There are over 300 additives approved for use in Australia and we consider 66 to be unsafe and we recommend to avoid these. The trouble is that the bad ones are being used more and more these days and are hard to avoid as they are in many products and the long-term effects of consuming a combination of different additives are currently unknown