Nutrition & Diet Coach

Peggy Korody North San Diego Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Food Additives – Safe or Not?

Written By: Peggy Korody - Aug• 13•11

Food additives, many of which you cannot even pronounce, are commonly used by food manufactures. If you can’t pronounce the additive then how are you to know if it is safe and why do we even have food additives?  Some additives, such as antioxidants, retard the oxidation of unsaturated fats and oils, colorings, and flavorings. Then there are the chelating agents, which trap impurities such as trace amounts of metals, from the processing plant (metal rollers, blenders, etc), which keeps our foods from discoloring or going rancid. Products such as salad dressings most likely contain an emulsifier, which simply keeps the oil and water mixed together.  Flavor enhancers accentuate the natural flavor of foods.  Finally, there are thickening agents that absorb some of the water that is present in the food, which helps to make the food thicker.

Although not an exhaustive list, the following food additives can be considered safe.  Alginate, propylene glycol alginate is a foam stabilizer and thickening agent, which is made from seaweed (kelp).  You will find this additive in beer, candy, cheese, ice cream and yogurt.  Another stabilizing and thickening agent is carrageenan found in chocolate milk, cottage cheese, ice cream, infant formula and jelly, this additive also comes from seaweed.kelp

An antioxidant you may recognize is ascorbic acid; also know as vitamin C. This additive also goes by the name erythorbic acid, although chemically similar to ascorbic acid it is not a vitamin.  Ascorbic acid is added to foods as an antioxidant, color stabilizer and nutrient.  This additive also inhibits the formation of nitrosamines known to be a cancer-promoting substance.

A couple of chelating agents and color stabilizers are ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA), phosphates, and phosphoric acid. EDTA is often found in canned shellfish, margarine, mayonnaise, processed fruits and vegetables, salad dressing, sandwich spreads and soft drinks.  Phosphates and phosphoric acid are found in baked goods, breakfast cereal, cheese, cured meat, dehydrated potatoes, powdered foods, and soft drinks.  As an added note, phosphates may contribute to osteoporosis so it is important to not consume these products in excess, such as soft drinks.

The only flavor enhancers on the “safe”

no msg

list are for tartness, these include citric acid, sodium citrate, and fumaric acid. Two flavor enhancers that certain people should avoid are hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) and monosodium glutamate (MSG).  Some studies have shown that a small number of people have sensitivities to MSG in large doses.  Symptoms include headache, nausea, weakness, and burning sensations in the back of the neck and the forearms.  So if you are one of the “sensitive people”, it would be good for you to avoid HVP and MSG.  You find HVP in beef stew, frankfurters, instant soup, and sauce mixes.  Chips, frozen entrees, restaurant food, salad dressing, and soup contain MSG.

Often I see food packages claim no-sugar-added, but what that label is not saying is that an artificial sweetener was used instead. Not all artificial sweeteners are bad; actually three are on the “safe” list – neotame, oligofructose, and sucralose.  Although neotame is related to aspartame, it is used at a much lower level and is more stable than aspartame for baked foods.  You find neotame in diet soda and diet foods.  Oligofructose is a sweetener, bulking agent, emulsifier, and prebiotic and you will find this used in frozen desserts, cookies, energy and granola bars.  This additive promotes the beneficial bifidus bacteria, a probiotic, which helps to promote and maintain the proper pH of the large intestine.  Sucralose can be found in no-sugar-added baked goods, frozen desserts, soft drinks, and tabletop sweetener (Splenda).

If you would like to see the full list of “safe” and “unsafe” food additives visit the Center for Science in the Public Interest website at http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm.  Everyone should become familiar with what additives are nontoxic to eat.  Remember, just because you may not be able to pronounce the word does not necessarily mean the additive is on the “avoid” list.

 

 

Is your food making you sick?  Are you suffering from a stubborn health problem that won’t go away no matter what you try?  Or perhaps the medications and treatments you’re taking aren’t actually getting at the root cause of your illness – but you want something that will?  If you feel this way, or know someone that does contact me to see how I can help. I am a Certified LEAP Therapist – Helping people who suffer with food sensitivities which can lead to – IBS, Migraines, Fibromyalgia, and other inflammatory conditions.

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