Food additives: how to avoid them

Food additives: how to avoid them

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The food additives they are classified by European legislation in 24 categories (directive 89/107 / EEC) including the 4 fundamental groups of dyes, preservatives, antioxidants and thickeners. But there are also acidity correctors, flavor enhancers (such as monosodium glutamate in stock cubes), sweeteners (such as aspartame and saccharin), gelling agents, etc ... Here are the categories in detail:

  • Dyes
  • Preservatives
  • Antioxidants
  • Emulsifiers
  • Salts of fusion
  • Thickeners
  • Gelling agents
  • Stabilizers
  • Flavor enhancers
  • Acids
  • Acidity regulators
  • Anti-caking agents
  • Modified starches
  • Sweeteners
  • Raising agents
  • Anti-foaming agents
  • Coating agents
  • Flour treatment agents
  • Resistance agents
  • Humectants
  • Sequestering agents
  • Enzymes
  • Bulking agents
  • Propulsion gas and packaging gas

The food additives they are identified one by one by an alphanumeric code consisting of a capital letter E followed by three numbers, and their presence must be indicated by reporting the code of each additive on the label. The law, however, does not consider food additives the so-called 'flavoring' (which is questionable) and prescribes the generic indication on the label with the words 'flavorings'.

The food additives of the group of dyes they are marked with numbers from E100 to E199, for example: E100 is curcumin, E123 is amaranth, E124 is cochineal red. A further subdivision concerns the color:

  • yellow (E100 to E109)
  • yellow-orange (E110)
  • orange (E111)
  • red (E120 to E129)
  • blue and violet (E130 to E139)
  • green (E140 to E149)
  • brown to black (E150 to E160)
  • other colors (E160 to E199) including external coloring (E170 to E181)

Some codes have been further subdivided, for example: E160a, E160b, E160c, E160d, E160e, E160f. Individual dyes may be authorized in some countries and not in others. Some are considered harmless, others are harmful to health (but not necessarily banned in all countries).

THE preservatives I'm food additives used to slow down the natural deterioration of food caused by bacteria, yeasts and molds. The codes of preservatives range from E200 to E299, for example: E 210 (benzoic acid), E220 (sulfur dioxide), E 249 (potassium nitrite).

The antioxidants they avoid the oxidation process of food and are indicated with codes from E300 to E385. The group also includes the 'acidity regulators', which have a slightly different function from very own antioxidants, and which range from E325 to E385.

The thickeners finally (agar-agar, locust bean gum, arabic gum ...) are identified with the abbreviations from E400 to E495).

The problem of food additives is that, while taking as valid the quantities permitted by law for each individual additive, there is no study on the synergistic effect of substances once mixed in food. And given that the average consumer in industrialized countries ingests 2-3 kg of food additives every year, this is a serious problem.

The pitfall lies in the fact that the toxic action of food additives it is not immediate, but slow and progressive as happens precisely in intoxications. Furthermore, the same dose of dyes, preservatives, antioxidants and thickeners can be harmless for a healthy and robust person, but harmful for a weak and sick person, a child or an elderly person.

Even if authorized and considered harmless, give them food additives it is good to be on guard. Eliminating them completely is practically impossible, and perhaps not even necessary, but reducing their intake is a decidedly wise thing. So here are some tips.

  • Avoid artificially colored foods as much as possible, they only serve to 'entice' and have nothing to do with natural ingredients.
  • Soft drinks, fish products and olive paste contain as preservatives benzoics (from E210 to E219) which are among the causes of allergic reactions and intolerances.
  • If you use the peel of citrus fruits for cooking, those treated with diphenyl (E230) should be avoided because it is a toxic preservative.
  • For the same reason as above, hands should be washed after peeling a banana if the peel has been treated against microbes with thiabendazole (E233).
  • The peel of some cheeses is also eaten, but it is best not to do so if it has a waxy appearance or is very shiny: it almost certainly contains coating agents with antifungal and antifungal functions that can cause intolerances.
  • Beware of the so-called 'Chinese restaurant syndrome' caused by that formidable flavor enhancer that is monosodium glutamate (E621), which is the main ingredient in stock cubes.
  • Attention also to sweeteners: some contain polyols and have laxative effects (eat certain candies in large quantities and you will notice it immediately), others can give headaches, hives and convulsion (aspartame E951), others still suspect that they may be carcinogenic (saccharin E954).
  • Nitrates and nitrites (E249 to E252) used as preservatives in canned meat, cured meats and sausages have been recognized as carcinogens. Sulfites (E220 to E228) used as preservatives in wine, beer, pickles and nuts irritate the stomach and cause headaches. Organic wine and beer produced according to the 'law of purity' do not contain sulphites.

Video: The Danger of Food Additives (June 2022).


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