EWG (Environmental Working Group) has just released its “Dirty Dozen Guide To Food Additives “. According to EWG “More than 10,000 additives* are allowed in food. Some are direct additives that are deliberately formulated into processed food. Others are indirect additives that get into food during processing, storage and packaging”.
The “Dirty Dozen Guide To Food Additives ” aims to help consumers identify food additives with serious health concerns, additives banned or restricted in other countries as well as other substances that should not be in food. Even though they are allowed in food, some additives are linked one way or the other to health concerns such as cancer, allergies, eczema, hyperactivity, ADD/ADHD, reproductive function etc…
The “Dirty Dozen Guide To Food Additives ” follows in the footsteps of EWG’s yearly Shopper’s Guides to Pesticides in Produce™ (“Dirty Dozen Plus™” and “Clean Fifteen™“). It gives a detailed description of each additive, including the health risk(s) they are associated with, which types of food they are contained in and how best to avoid them.
You might wonder why if they are so bad, those additives are allowed in food? This comes down to loopholes in the legislation. In the US the designation is called GRAS or “Generally Recognized as Safe”. Other similar designations are in place in the EU. This is of course controversial as even though a substance might be linked to health issues it still can be allowed in food if present at “safe levels”.
The Dirty Dozen Guide To Food Additives includes:
- Nitrates and nitrites (found in cured meat)
- Potassium bromate (found in bread)
- Propyl paraben (found in tortillas & muffins)
- Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) (found in crisps and preserved meat)
- Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) (found in cereals)
- Propyl gallate (found in cured meat)
- Theobromine (found in chocolate)
- Secret flavour ingredients (found in processed food)
- Artificial colours (found in processed food)
- Diacetyl (found in yoghurt and cheese)
- Phosphates (found in processed food)
- Aluminum additives (found in processed food)
While it is impossible to avoid these additives entirely, you can limit your exposure by cooking fresh food and avoiding cured meat as well as processed food. Make sure you also read food labels carefully and eat organic food whenever possible.
Additional websites you might want to visit:
- Food Intolerance Network which provides fact sheets, shopping lists and general information on food additives, preservatives etc..
- Explore E Numbers where you will find helpful information on good & bad E numbers.