Food additives and food labels

posted by Estelle July 26, 2011 5 Comments

Many of us have a desire to change our lifestyle and diet but don’t know where to start. Over the next few weeks I will suggest small changes that could make a big difference.


First: practice smart shopping by knowing what you are buying. Reading food labels is an extremely important change and is very simple. Becoming familiar with food additives and why it is advisable to avoid them turn grocery shopping into a whole new experience.

Below is a partial list of food additives.

High fructose corn syrup– Also called isoglucose, it is now a common additive in processed foods like baked goods, frozen desserts, tomato sauce, ketchup, canned and frozen fruit, soft drinks, and soups. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is comprised of high levels of fructose and glucose, and is derived from corn syrup that has been processed from corn starch. It is cheaper to produce and transport than table sugar (sucrose). Check food labels carefully, as they may contain more than one form of sugar, listed separately.


Aspartame, Saccarin and Sucralose – Aspartame is found in Nutrasweet, Equal and Spoonful, and account for 75% of adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA. According to researchers and physicians studying the adverse effects of aspartame, the following chronic illnesses can be triggered or worsened by ingesting of aspartame: Brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, parkinson’s disease, alzheimer’s, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia, and diabetes. (http://aspartame.mercola.com/)

Saccharin has been found to cause bladder cancer in male rats. Sucralose, found in Splenda, is added to diet soft drinks and baked goods.

Trans Fatty Acids – Also called “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil”, are formed when liquid oils turn into solid fats through hydrogenation. They are found in shortening, margarine, crackers, and many other processed foods. They have received a bad reputation because they raise levels of LDL, or “bad”, cholesterol.

Artificial coloring – Some food colorings can cause hyperactivity in some children. Blue dye 1 and 2, Green dye 3, Red dye 3 and Yellow dye 6 are the most risky.

Propyl Gallate – This preservative, found in soups, chewing gum, vegetable oils and meat products, has been found to be a possible carcinogen.

Sodium Nitrite/Nitrate – Used as preservatives in hot dogs, bacon, and other processed meats, those additives can lead to the formation of cancer-causing chemicals called nitrosamines.

BHA and BHT – Preservatives commonly found in baked goods and processed foods, they may pose a cancer risk, and should be avoided.

Potassium Bromate – Found in breads and white flours. This additive has long been used to strength bread dough and increase yield. Bromate causes cancer in animals and has been banned virtually worldwide except in Japan and the United States. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bromated_flour)

MSG– Monosodium glutamate is an additive that tricks your tongue into thinking a food is high in protein and therefore “nutritious”. MSG itself has been removed from many foods but can be hidden through other names such as: yeast extract, L-glutamic acid or glutamate, “umami”.

The best thing to do is to avoid labelled foods. Make it your goal: when you go grocery shopping avoid the isles in the centre of the store and buy fresh fruits and vegetables.

You may also like