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Taste, texture, colour and freshness all play roles in the enjoyment of our food. These are the qualities that make eating a
pursuit that goes well beyond simple nourishment. Our modern lifestyles have given rise to high food production, more mouths to feed and a greater demand for shelf-life. This, in turn, has given rise to food additives, which give us exactly what we want out of our food, but at what cost?
Food additives are substances put in food to preserve flavour or improve taste and appearance.
The most popular chemical additives in the food industry:
These additives kill/prevent moulds and yeast from growing on food.
Other common food additives and their potential dangers:
Aspartame: Sweetener in snacks, sweets, alcohol, desserts, diet foods. Reports show possibility of headaches, blindness and seizures with long-term high doses of aspartame.
Benzoic acid: Preservative in many foods, including drinks, low sugar products, cereals, meat products. Can temporarily inhibit the function of digestive enzymes. May deplete glycine levels.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG): Flavour enhancer known to cause seizures, chest pains, headache, nausea, burning sensations and tightness of face.
Sulfur dioxide: Preservative that causes bronchial problems, hypotension (low blood pressure), flushing, tingling sensations or anaphylactic shock.
Nitrites/Nitrates: one of the most dangerous additives. Used in processed meats: lunch meats, smoked fish, sausage, bacon, hot dogs, canned meats.
– Nitrates are used to stabilize the colour of the product.
– High levels of nitrites and/or nitrite poisoning in food can cause cardiovascular collapse.
Chemical additive intake:
– Americans eat roughly 6 to 9 pounds per year
– The U.S. consumes over 1 billion pounds per year.
The majority of the colouring additives being used are derived from carcinogens like coal tar.
Europe has much stricter bans of food additives than the United States:
– American chickens that have been washed in chlorine are banned in England
– The bovine growth hormone rBGH is banned in all of Europe, while simple labelling of a hormone-free product is still a contentious subject in the U.S.
Additives from what?!
– Beaver anal glands – enhance the flavour of raspberry candies and sweets
– Female beetle secretions are responsible for making Skittles and the sprinkles on ice cream shiny
– Most cheese in the world contains a product called rennet – the fourth stomach of a young cow
– The additive L-cysteine is used in everything from Lunchables meats to giving bread dough proper consistency. L-cystein is most commonly derived from human hair and/or duck feathers.