For many years, food additives have been used for a number of purposes. Additives are most commonly used as preservatives, thickening agents or to provide foods with a certain colour or texture.
There has long been a discussion about the safety of these additives and whether or not they can become harmful if they're consumed over a long period of time.
At times, food additives have been blamed when they're actually innocent. However, there are additives that can be dangerous and as a result, some countries have placed a ban on them. Although not all food additives are dangerous, you do need to know what's actually in your food. So, below's a rundown of some of the safe and not so safe food additives you need to watch out for.
There are many food additives that have been deemed completely safe after careful studies proved their safety. Some of these safe additives include the following:
- Ascorbic Acid is used to stabilize the colours in fruity beverages, cereals, and other prepared foods.
- Beta Carotene is used to colour such foods as butter and certain lollies.
- Sodium Propionate is used to help preserve breads and other baked goods.
- Citric Acid is a flavouring used often in desserts like ice cream and sorbet.
- Carrageenan is most often found in dairy products and jelly. It helps to thicken the products.
- Maltodextrin is another thickening agent additive and it's often used in puddings and canned fruits.
- Polysorbate is an emulsifier that ensures oil and cream don't separate in baked goods.
There are some additives that have been proven harmful as well. So that you can be sure to avoid them, they've been listed below:
- Monosodium glutamate commonly known as MSG, which is often used as a preservative in packaged food and as a flavour enhancer in Eastern cuisine, is an ingredient that can cause some to have negative side effects after eating it.
- Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) is an antioxidant found in cereals and potato chips. Some studies have found BHT to be carcinogenic.
- Polydextrose is an additive that's used to bulk up foods like baked goods and desserts. Some people are sensitive to it and can experience gastrointestinal upset after eating it.
- Olestra is a fat substitute ingredient which is supposed to be healthier, but it often causes gastrointestinal upset in those who eat potato chips which have been fried in it.
For the most part, you don't have to worry about harm from additives. Australia has tough regulations surrounding them and they have been tested and deemed safe. However, it's still a good idea to know what's in your food before you eat it. Click here to learn more about how to handle, prepare and store food safely.