Health - Diet & Nutrition
By: - at August 28, 2013

24 Food Additives That You Should Consider Avoiding

Introduction
food experiments test tubes food additives flavoringThousands of food additives are permitted for use in food manufacturing in U.S. Additives can be used for a variety of reasons. Not only are they included to enhance flavor or maintain a food’s coloring, but they may be used to ensure a long shelf life as well. Although the additives listed below have received FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval, they still can negatively impact one’s health.

Adverse health reactions can include hives, upset stomach, headache, or fatigue. According to research, approximately 1% of adults and 2% of children are affected by the substances.


24)  Castoreum

Wild Beaver:
Wild Beaver source of Castoreum their anal glands

What is It? 
Castoreum is extracted from the anal scent glands of beavers. Castoreum is used in food manufacturing to give food a musky taste.

Where is it Found?
Castoreum is commonly found in raspberry and vanilla flavored products. Legally, food makers can list the product simply and deceptively as a “natural ingredient.”

Why You Should Avoid It
While you can take comfort in the fact that Castoreum isn’t harmful, it is still one ingredient you’ll want to avoid. The ingredient is derived from the anal scent glands of the beaver, and therefore is used, in the wild, to mark the animal’s territory.


23)  Olestra

Studies Show Olestra Can Lead to Anal Leakage:
Studies Show Olestra Can Lead to Anal Leakage

What is It?
In a world largely obsessed with weight and health, olestra seemed like the perfect food additive when it was approved by the FDA and released in 1996. When the ingredient is added to diet foods, it’s supposed to keep dieters from absorbing fat.

Where is it Found?
Olestra is commonly found in diet junk foods, such as fat free potato chips.

Why You Should Avoid It
While olestra stops the body from absorbing fat, it also affects a person’s ability to absorb vitamins. So both the fat and nutrients of a food are flushed from a person’s system. Side effects range from gas, cramps to leakage of the bowels. Nevertheless, the FDA has opted to leave olestra on the market and allow consumers to make up their mind as to whether or not eating foods containing the additive is worth the possible consequences.


22)  Tartrazine/Yellow #5

Boxed Macaroni and Cheese Contains Yellow #5:
Boxed Macaroni and Cheese Contains Yellow #5

What is It?
Tartrazine, otherwise known as FD&C Yellow #5, is suspected of causing many reactions, including asthma, hives and various other health concerns.

Where is it Found?
Tatrazine is generally included in candies and other types of sweets.

Why You Should Avoid It
While it was once believed that asthmatics, who were allergic to aspirin, would react negatively to tartrazine, recent studies have disproved the theory. According to research, tatrazine is linked with breathing difficulties and skin eruptions, including atopic dermatitis.


21)  Sodium benzoate

Sodium Benzoate is in Some Sugary Store-bought Juices:
Sodium Benzoate is in Some Sugary Store-bought Juices

What is It?
Sodium benzoate causes a tingling sensation in your throat when you drink a soda.

Where is it Found?
Sodium benzoate can be found in most carbonated drinks, fruit juices, salad dressings, jams, condiments and pickles.

Why You Should Avoid It
While the FDA considers the product safe, a study conducted in 2007 showed that a combination of sodium benzoate and food dyes could be linked to hyperactivity in kids.


20)  Sunset Yellow FCF/Artificial Yellow 6

Sunset Yellow FCF is Contained in Some Energy:
Sunset Yellow FCF is Contained in Some Energy

What is It?
Sunset Yellow FCF, otherwise known as Artificial Yellow 6, is a food coloring.

Where is it Found?
Artificial Yellow 6 can be found in a number of beverages, baked goods, gelatin desserts, candy and sausages.

Why You Should Avoid It
Studies supported by the food industry tested the color additive on animals and unearthed evidence that suggests that Sunset Yellow FCF has been linked to allergic reactions and tumors in the kidneys and adrenal glands. It is one of the most commonly used food dyes.


19)  Bisphenol A (BPA)

BPA Promotes the Growth, Invasiveness, and Metastasis of Cells:
BPA Promotes the Growth, Invasiveness, and Metastasis of Cells

What is It?
While the chemical bisphenol A, otherwise known as BPA, is generally no longer used to produce items made of hard plastics, it still is frequently used in the lining of canned goods. Although it isn’t technically an additive, BPA, when included in cans, can still seep into the food, especially if the food is acidic.

Where is it Found?
The inner linings of cans used to hold canned foods contain BPA.

Why You Should Avoid It
BPA has been linked to developmental problems in fetuses and children. Therefore, it’s best to steer clear of any food product that comes in a can, unless it specifically states that the lining of the container is BPA-free.


18)  Carmine

Carmine - Food Dye From Insects:
Carmine - Food Dye From Insects

What is It?
Carmine is a red food dye that comes from insects. Specifically, it comes from boiled cochineal bugs.

Where is it Found?
Carmine is commonly found in a variety of candies, ice creams, lemonades and grapefruit juices.

Why You Should Avoid It
Studies have found that carmine can trigger serious allergic reactions in some people, even life-threatening anaphylactic reactions. The FDA requires that the additive needs to be clearly listed among the ingredients in food and cosmetic products.


The Popular Candy Smarties Contain Brilliant Blue:
The Popular Candy Smarties Contain Brilliant Blue

17)  Brilliant Blue FCFC/Artificial Blue #1

What is It?
Brilliant Blue FCFC, otherwise known as Artificial Blue #1, is an artificial coloring.

Where is it Found?
Artificial Blue is found in candies, baked goods and drinks.

Why You Should Avoid It
While there is no strong evidence to link the additive with cancer, there is some evidence to suggest a risk exists. General testing of Artificial Blue has, so far, been inconclusive.


16)  Aspartame

Many Hard Candies Contain Aspartame as Well as Diet Sodas
Many Hard Candies Contain Aspartame as Well as Diet Sodas

What is It?
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener.

Where is it Found?
Aspartame is found in a variety of “sugar free” products, specifically diet foods like soft drinks and frozen desserts.

Why You Should Avoid It
Since the 1970s, there have been conflicting opinions with respect to the safety of the product. Initial studies on rats, found that there may be a link to brain tumors. Recent studies have also linked aspartame to leukemia, lymphomas and breast cancer. Some people have also been found to be highly sensitive to the product, suffering dizziness and headaches. In addition, studies show that aspartame, which is used as a diet aid, can actually cause people to eat more.


15)  Caramel Coloring

Caramel Coloring is Used to Flavor Coca-Cola:
Caramel Coloring is Used to Flavor Coca-Cola

What is It?
Caramel coloring isn’t inherently dangerous if it’s cooked in the traditional way of using sugar and water. Of course, most food manufacturers don’t use that technique in the production of the coloring. The sugar is generally treated with ammonia, which produces carcinogens.

Where is it Found?
The coloring is generally found in a variety of soft drinks.

Why You Should Avoid It
Given the popularity of soft drinks, the Center for Science in the Public Interest once released a warning that caramel coloring could account for approximately 15,000 cancers in the U.S. annually.


14)  Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein

Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein is a Common Additive in Many Dips and Dressings:
Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein is a Common Additive in Many Dips and Dressings

What is It?
Hydrolyzed vegetable protein is utilized to enhance flavor. It’s derived from the protein of plants after it is reduced to amino acids. One such acid is glutamic acid, which can release free glutamate.

Where is it Found?
Hydrolyzed vegetable protein is commonly used in sauces, soups, stews, gravies and a number of meat products. It may also be used in potato chips, dips and pretzels.

Why You Should Avoid It
When glutamate combines with sodium in your body, monosodium glutamate (MSG) is formed. MSG has been long associated with such adverse reactions as nausea, headaches and weakness. While food producers are required by the FDA to disclose when MSG is added to a product, they don’t have to make the disclosure if MSG is created as a byproduct from hydrolyzed protein.





13)  Propyl gallate

Ready to Eat Foods Commonly Contain Propyl gallate:
Ready to Eat Foods Commonly Contain Propyl gallate

What is It?
Propyl gallate is an antioxidant preservative used to keep oils and fats from losing color or flavor as the result of oxidation.

Where is it Found?
Propyl gallate can be found in meat products, chicken soup bases, a number of vegetable oils, chewing gum and potato sticks.

Why You Should Avoid It
Studies have detailed a possible association between the preservative and cancer in rats and mice.


12)  Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

Turkey Bacon Contains BHT:
Turkey Bacon Contains BHT

What is It?
Butylated hydroxytoluene, better known as BHT, is used to prevent meats from spoiling.

Where is it Found?
BHT is commonly found in gum, cereals, chips, and vegetable oil. It is also used in the packaging of food to retain freshness.

Why You Should Avoid It
While some studies have found it to be safe, others link BHT to cancers in mice, rats and hamsters.


11)  Indigotine/Artificial Blue 2

Some Canned Pet Foods Contain Artificial Blue 2:
Some Canned Pet Foods Contain Artificial Blue 2

What is It?
Indigotine, otherwise known as Artificial Blue 2, is an artificial coloring.

Where is it Found?
Artificial Blue 2 can be found in candies, drinks and pet foods.

Why You Should Avoid It
The most comprehensive study conducted on the additive found evidence that it may have triggered tumors in the brains of male mice.


10)  Sucralose

Many Sugar Free Maple Syrups Contain Sucralose:
Many Sugar Free Maple Syrups Contain Sucralose

What is It?
Sucralose is an artificial additive produced by chlorinating sugar.

Where is it Found?
Sucralose is generally used in “healthy” alternatives for sugary food products.

Why You Should Avoid It
Manufacturers claim that the chlorine in sucralose is the same as that found in table salt. However, tests have found that the chemical structure of the chlorine in sucralose is essentially the same as that of the banned pesticide DDT. Common effects of sucralose include muscle aches and headaches, diarrhea, stomach cramps, bladder discomfort, dizziness and skin irritation. There are also concerns regarding the effects sucralose has on immune system functioning as well as the kidneys and liver. A study at Duke University discovered that sucralose affects intestinal health, specifically the bacteria that is crucial for digestion. The efficacy of prescription drugs may also be impacted when they are combined with the substance.


9)  Erythrosine/Artificial Red 3

Erythrosine is Commonly Used to Die Maraschino Cherries:
Artificial Red 3

What is It?
Erythrosine, otherwise known as Artificial Red 3, is a food coloring.

Where is it Found?
Artificial Red 3 is commonly found in candies, baked goods and cherries in fruit cocktails.

Why You Should Avoid It
During the 1980s, the FDA issued a recommendation that the dye be prohibited. This came after a number of studies found evidence that, when tested on rats, Artificial Red 3 caused thyroid tumors. However, despite the FDA’s warning and suggestions to the contrary, the dye is still widely used throughout the world.


8)  Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)

BHA Is Commonly Used for Flavoring In Crackers:
BHA Is Commonly Used for Flavoring In Crackers

What is It?
Butylated hydroxyanisole, better known as BHA, is a preservative utilized to prevent rancidity in foods that contain oil.

Where is it Found?
BHA is commonly found in gum, chips, breakfast cereals and vegetable oils. It is sometimes utilized in the packaging of some foods in order to retain freshness.

Why You Should Avoid It
BHA has been shown in lab hamsters, rats and mice to cause cancer. The reason it is deemed “safe” for human consumption by the FDA is because all the cancers that developed in the rodents did so in their forestomachs, which is an organ human beings don’t possess. Therefore, BHA is considered a “safe” additive. However, despite this endorsement, a study, which was published in the ‘Japanese Journal of Cancer Research,’ found that BHA, from reasonable speculations, was carcinogenic.


7)  Parabens

Parabens Are Commonly In Cosmetics:
Parabens Are Commonly In Cosmetics

What is It?
Parabens are synthetic preservatives, which are used to prevent mold from developing on yeast-based food
 

Where are They Found?
Parabens are commonly used in a variety of breads.

Why You Should Avoid It
According to research, parabens can disturb an individual’s balance of hormones. A study published in ‘Food Chemical Toxicology’ discovered that a daily intake of parabens hindered the production of testosterone and sperm in lab rats. Parabens have also been discovered in cancerous breast tissue.


6)  Partially Hydrogenated Oil

Trans-fat in French Fries:
Partially Hydrogenated Oil

What is It?
Partially Hydrogenated Oil is a processed fat that enhances a product’s shelf-life.

Where is it Found?
The trans-fat product is found in a wide range of foods that are processed, especially deep-friend foods, margarines, shortening, baked goods, cookies and snack foods. While a number of food manufacturers have adopted the use of alternatives, it’s still important for you to check the labels.

Why You Should Avoid It
The FDA allows food manufacturers to claim that their product does not contain trans fat as long as the product has under a half gram (0.49 grams) of trans fat. On paper, that doesn’t sound too bad. However, when one factors in that an individual should only consume, at the most, two grams of trans fat a day, consumption of supposedly ”trans fat-free” food can take a toll on one’s health.

A listing of “partially hydrogenated oil” on the product’s ingredients can quickly determine if something is indeed trans fat-free.


5)  Sodium Nitrite

Many Canned Meats Contain Sodium Nitrate:
Many Canned Meats Contain Sodium Nitrate

What is It?
Nitrites and nitrates neutralize bacteria that can cause botulism and also retain the coloring of meat.

Where is it Found?
Sodium nitrite is commonly found in bacon, lunch meat, hot dogs and a variety of processed meat products.

Why You Should Avoid It
When nitrite is consumed it can combine with amino acids and produce nitrosamines, which are strong carcinogenic compounds. There’s an increased risk when you eat bacon. Ascorbic acid or erythorbic acids are safe alternatives in bacon products.


4)  Acesulfame-potassium/acesulfame-K

Acesulfame-K is Often Mixed With Other Natural As Well As Artificial Sweeteners:
Acesulfame-potassium

What is It?
Acesulfame-potassium, otherwise known as acesulfame-K, is an artificial sweetener and is about 200 times sweeter than sugar.

Where is it Found?
Acesulfame-potassium is found in chewing gum, baked goods, soft drinks, gelatin desserts and energy drinks.

Why You Should Avoid It
While a number of studies have concluded that acesulfame-potassium is safe, two separate studies found that the additive may cause cancer. That’s because the substance can break down into acetoacetamide, which is a substance that has been found to affect the thyroid of rabbits, rats and dogs when taken in large quantities.


3)  Saccharin

Many Diet Sodas Contain this Harmful Ingredient:
Many Diet Sodas Contain this Harmful Ingredient

What is It?
Saccharin is a sweetener with a sulfa base that is primarily made up of benzoic sulfimide.

Where is it Found?
Saccharin is commonly used in the diet as a “healthy” alternative to sugary products.

Why You Should Avoid It
Common reactions to saccharin can include diarrhea, nausea and skin issues. Although the FDA does not consider it to be a carcinogen, there are concerns as saccharin has been linked to bladder cancer in rats. To-date, there are no solid links to bladder cancer in humans, though there are concerns.


2)  Brominated Vegetable Oil

Sodas Including Mountain Dew and Energy Drinks Like Gatorade Contain BVG:
Sodas Including Mountain Dew and Energy Drinks Like Gatorade Contain BVG

What is It?
Brominated Vegetable oil (BVO) has the element bromine added to it to increase the density of the oil. Food manufacturers generally prefer it over regular vegetable oil, as it prevents oil from floating to the top of the product.

Where is it Found?
BVO is commonly found in soft drinks.

Why You Should Avoid It
Bromine can affect the function of the thyroid. Animal studies, have found that BVO consumption results in heart and kidney damage as well as increases fat deposits in these organs. In extreme instances, BVO resulted in stunted growth, testicular damage and produced lethargy and fatigue.


1)  Azodicarbonamide

Azodicarbonamide is Often Contained in Baked Goods:
Azodicarbonamide is Often Contained in Baked Goods

What is It?
Azodicarbonamide, otherwise known as ADA, is another type of Bromide.

Where is it Found?
ADA is commonly used in bread as a flour-bleaching agent, and in beer and a variety of fast food products.

Why You Should Avoid It
ADA has been linked with obesity, and has been connected with asthma. Furthermore, there is some speculation that the substance may cause cancer and brain disorders. While the use of Azodicarbonamide is illegal in Europe and Australia, it’s legal in the U.S.


Conclusion
With authorities endorsing certain additives and scientists warning against their use, it’s difficult to know what is and isn’t safe to consume. Further muddying the waters is the fact that additives often have alternative names or food manufacturers do not have to legally list some of the substances in their products. Ultimately, your best chance at eating healthy and avoiding the inherent risks associated with additives is to educate yourself on the subject as much as possible, and eat a more natural diet free of as many processed foods as possible.


 

 

 

 

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