Food additives have been used by mankind for centuries. Salt, sugar and vinegar were among the first used to preserve foods. In the past 30 plus years, however, with the advent of processed foods, there has been a massive explosion in the chemical adulteration of foods with additives. Considerable controversy has been associated with the potential threats and possible benefits of food additives.
Most food additives are considered safe. However, some are known to be carcinogenic or toxic. Hyperactivity in children, allergies, asthma, and migraines are often associated with adverse reactions to food additives.
Since 1987 Australia has had an approved system of labelling for additives in packaged foods. Each food additive has to be named or numbered (except flavours). The numbers are the same as in Europe, but without the prefix ‘E’.
In my book ‘Hidden Dangers’ there is a comprehensive list of food additives with the items of concern, with links to cancer, asthma and hyperactivity. (There is also a handy pocket size code breaker to take shopping). Food additives linked to ‘cancer’ may mean that the additive may be Carcinogenic (substances that cause cancer), Mutagenic (an agent that tends to increase the frequency or extent of mutation-: a change in genetic code) or Teratogenic (an agent or influence that causes physical defects in the developing embryo).
There are also additives that may trigger or worsen asthma attacks. Unfortunately there are also additives that may cause or exasperate hyperactive reactions. Some of the additives have one or more of these risks and may be linked to combinations of cancer, hyperactivity and asthma risk. Regardless of whether you have or are avoiding any of these challenges, it is advisable to avoid all food additives with these potential risks.
What is amazing is the number of food additives that are banned in so many countries overseas. So why are so many other countries switched on to the fact that these additives are harmful, toxic and potentially carcinogenic and our regulatory body in Australia (FSANZ) Food Standards Australia and New Zealand are not?
These are the food additives collectively that may cause hyperactive reaction:
E102, 104, 107, 110, 120, 122, 123, 124, 127, 128, 129, 131, 132, 133, 142, 150, 151, 154, 155, 160(b), 180
200, 210, 211, 220, 228, 250, 251, 252, 282,
319, 320, 321
421, 620, 621, 627, 631, 635, 951
Let’s look at some of these additives in more detail:
E102 (Tartrazine- a yellow colourant) 80% of hyperactive children and 15% of all Australians may be allergic. It may cause asthma, urticaria, uncontrolled hyper-agitation, aggressive behaviour and confusion. It can trigger hay fever, breathing problems, blurred vision and purple patches on the skin. (It is a suspected Carcinogen!)
E110 (Sunset Yellow) Cancer probability. People with aspirin allergies are at high risk. It may cause urticaria, swelling of blood vessels, gastric upset and vomiting. Potentially dangerous for asthmatics, people with ADD, ADHD, and hay fever. May cause hives, bronchoconstriction, anaphylactic reactions, allergies, kidney tumours, chromosomal damage, abdominal pain, vomiting. It is banned in Norway, Sweden, Finland and UK.
E129 (Allura red) May be linked to tumours and lymphomas. It may be dangerous for asthmatics and people with urticaria and hay fever. It could increase heart rate and is implicated in behavioural problems. It is prohibited throughout EEC Countries.
FLAVOURS in foods may also be detrimental for our health and especially for our children. The challenge with flavours is that they are not individually identified on labels other than saying ‘flavours’ so we basically have no idea what that flavour is. In most instances these flavours are synthetic and chemical based
- Diethyl glycol—a cheap chemical used as an emulsifier instead of eggs
- Aldehyde C17—an aniline dye used in plastic and rubber gives “cherry” flavour
- Piperonal—a chemical used to kill lice, used in place of vanilla
- Ethyl acetate—cleans leather, and its vapours are known to cause chronic lung, liver, and heart damage, gives “pineapple” flavour
- Butylaldehyde—used in rubber cement. gives a “nut” flavour
- Amyl acetate—an excellent paint solvent, produces a “banana” flavour
- Benzyl acetate—a nitrate solvent, used for “strawberry” flavour
So… Have you checked your food labels lately?