Food additives are ingredients added to food to give it a better appearance, taste, and flavor. It also prevents the food from becoming stale. Salt is a natural food additive that is been used for thousands of years to preserve vegetables, fish, and meat. Modern researches in food technology has resulted in the development of artificial additives which helps in prolonged shelf life of the various food products.
What Do Food Additives Do?
The important functions of additives are:
Improving the texture
Adding or restoring color
Improving the flavor
Food safety promoting
For preserving or improving nutritional value
Natural Food Additives And Artificial Food Additives
Natural additives like salt, oils, soybeans etc. are derived from natural sources and can help maintain a food for a longer period of time, most generally harmless. Beetroot powder, for example, can even be used as a food color. The basic compound of natural and artificial food additives are closely related chemically in many cases. So a person sensitive to a particular artificial additive may show the same sensitivity to a natural additive for the same reason. That means natural additives are not always safe. The only difference between them is in the concentration of the compounds. In natural additives the chemicals will be less concentrated. As long as it is consumed moderately no issue will arise.
On the other hand, in artificial additives the compounds are highly concentrated and hence, even when consumed moderately, a large dose will get into your system causing health issues.
Children And Food Additives
Kids are more affected by food additives. They usually fall for the artificial color and flavor of their favorite drink or candy. The majority of the customers of instant food and junk food are children. They can’t fight the temptation of the smell, appearance and taste (created by additives) of their favorite food items.
Additives are widely used in the food items they use daily like bread, cheese, butter, jam, juice and even yogurt.
So, the parents who are totally against junk food and feel proud that their children are always having healthy food will be shocked when they find out that at least ten to twenty artificial food additives are consumed by their children daily.
Are Additives And Preservatives Necessary? Should We Avoid Additives Completely?
In fact, additives are necessary for the food to remain in good conditions for long periods. Or else a high level of food wastage will occur. Certain food items if not properly preserved, will cause food poisoning. Some of the additives are so important that they are used even in organic food products. It is not practical to eliminate all the additives added food from our menu. What we must do is:
Avoid the food items which contain certain additives which will trigger allergies and cause health problems (this, also vary from person to person)
Having junk food and aerated drinks should be stopped or, at least, have it once a while. They only help in pumping all the artificial preservatives and additives into your system definitely causing nothing but health problems
How Are Food Additives Dangerous For Children?
Today’s fast paced life implies we all keep a stock of various processed foods in out kitchens. Over the years, safety of many food additives has come into question and many fears have been fostered. The news that some of the famous children’s food brands were banned in some country because they failed the test of food and safety department was shocking for the parents. Behavioral problems like hyperactivity, temper tantrums, poor concentration and health problems like head ache, vomiting, sudden attack of asthma while eating a particular food, rashes etc. have believed to be the result of intake of some food additives. Many researches have been conducted on the matter, and it has been concluded that many food additives can cause temper tantrums and disruptive behavior in young kids. Some of the artificial food additives are very dangerous and should be avoided permanently because they can affect your health and your kids health directly.
Top 10 Food Additives That Should Be Avoided With Kids
Let us find out top 10 food additives that should be avoid and the reason:
This is artificial sweetener used in foods claim to be sugar-free. Found in diet coke, table top sweetener, sugar-free gums, chew-able vitamins, puddings, cough syrups, toothpaste, breath mints, ice tea etc.
It is a neurotoxin (a toxic agent that destroys the tissues of the nervous system) and carcinogen (causing cancer). It may lead to headache, depression, brain tumor, Alzheimer’s, lymphoma, diabetes, anxiety attacks, etc.
Mono sodium glutamate MSG (E621):
MSG is known as excitotoxin – a toxic agent which overexcites the cell leading to damage and even death of that cell. Found in Chinese food, chips, frozen desserts, seasonings, instant soups etc.
Irregular conception may lead to disorientation, fatigue, headache, and obesity
It is partially hydrogenated vegetable oil found in baked foods, deep fried fast foods, fried chips, margarine etc.
The consumption of this will increase bad cholesterol (LDL) and decreases good cholesterol (HDL). This food additive raises the risk of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and other heart problems
Artificial colors added in sodas or fruit juices have been found to alter and hamper the behavioral problems in children. Food dyes have also been found to reduce a child’s IQ levels. Food colors that you should be wary of are:
Blue # 1 and Blue # 2 (E113):
This type of dyes are banned in countries like France, Finland and Norway because it has been indicated that consuming foods laced with these food dyes can result in chromosomal damages
They are found in candies, soft drinks, sports drinks and pet foods
Red Dye # 3 (E124):
This type of dye was banned in 1990 when it was proved that it induces thyroid cancer and also affect brain nerve transmission
It is found in fruit cocktail, ice-creams, cherry pie mix, and candy
Yellow # 6 (E110) and Yellow Tartrazine (E102):
They are banned in Norway and Sweden. They are found to generate tumors in kidney and adrenal gland
They are found in carbonated drinks, American cheese, candy, cheese and macaroni and more
Sodium nitrate/Sodium nitrite(E250):
Sodium Nitrate is used as a preservative, coloring, and flavoring processed meats like corned beef, smoked fish, bacon, hotdogs, and ham.
It is highly carcinogenic once it enters the blood stream
Sodium nitrite is considered highly toxic and tried to ban in 1970’s. But the food manufacturers voted against banning this additive saying that they don’t have an alternative to preserving the meat products, just because it is a color fixer, thus making old meat appear fresh
It is also found in all types of processed meats
BHA and BHT (E320):
This additive is used as a preservative to keep food so that the food keeps looking the same color, taste the same flavor and thus not become stale. It is found in chewing gum, potato chips, and vegetable oil, frozen sausage and much more.
They are capable of causing cancer, affect the neurological system of brain, alter behavior and more.
Sodium sulfite (E221):
This is used in wine making and other processed food as preservatives
It is found to trigger asthma in asthmatic patients. Sulfite sensitive peoples are found to develop breathing problems, rashes, and headaches
High fructose corn syrup(HFCS):
Found in almost all processed foods, flavored yogurt, candy, bread, canned vegetables, salad dressings etc., high fructose corn syrup is a common artificial sweetener
It is considered as number one source of calories. It increases bad cholesterol levels and contributes in developing diabetics and obesity
Sulphur Dioxide (E220):
Known to be toxic, using sulphur dioxide on raw fruits and vegetables is already forbidden in USA. Found in beer, vinegar, dry fruits, juices, wines, soft drinks, and potato products
Its consumption is not recommended for children. It is found to cause respiratory problems to people who have a tendency to asthma
This food additive increases the volume of white flour when making breads, rolls etc.
Just a small amount of potassium bromate may also cause problems because it is known to generate cancer
How Can I Safeguard My Children From Food Additives?
Sticking on to homemade food will help you to avoid these additives from your food. You should also be careful when selecting ingredients. Avoid processed foods and if you have to consume them, make sure that you thoroughly read the contents and the ingredients. Opt for color-free yogurts, choose plain chips and noodles, and go for preservative-free breads. Now enjoy making bread, juices and wines at home and keep your children away from these dangerous additives.