Archive for the ‘Food Additives’ category

10 Tips on How to Avoid Harmful Preservatives in Your Diet

July 30th, 2012

Preservatives are used to prevent bacteria, yeast and mould growth, preserve colour and flavour and keep food from going bad by preventing oxidation.

It can be hard to avoid preservatives as they can be found in almost any type of food or drink.

There are many natural preservatives such as salt, vinegar and sugar, but most of the preservatives used by food manufacturers are synthetic. 


Cheese & cheese productPotassium Sorbate (202) is used to prevent mould growth in foods such as cheese, cheese based products, yoghurt, wine, dried meat, pickles, apple cider, dips and many herbal dietary supplements.

In a study done in Turkey, potassium sorbate was found to be genotoxic to the human peripheral blood lymphocytes in vitro (ie: causes damage to the DNA).



Carbonated drinksSodium Benzoate (211) is used in carbonated drinks, oral medications, mouthwashes and added to acidic foods such as pickles, fish and oyster sauces, salad dressings, jams and fruit juices to enhance their flavour.

Even though sodium benzoate is found naturally in cranberries, plums, prunes, apples, cloves and cinnamon, it does not play the role of a preservative in these fruits and spices.

Sodium benzoate has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. It works by entering the individual cells in the food and increasing the overall acidity of the food, thus creating an environment in which microbes and fungi cannot grow and spread.

When mixed with vitamin C, sodium benzoate forms benzene, a known carcinogen. The rate at which benzene is formed is affected by exposure to light and heat, as well as the time spent on the shelf from production to consumption.

Some studies have shown that sodium benzoate along with artificial food colourings may increase hyperactive behaviour in some children.


Dried apricotsSulphur Dioxide (220) and Sulphites (221 – 228) are used to preserve the flavour and colour in fruits, dried fruits, vinegar, juices, cordials, soft drinks, sauces, beers and wines.

Sulphites inhibit bacterial growth, reduce spoilage, prevent browning of fresh food and help preserve medication.

Sulphites release sulphur dioxide, which is the active component that helps preserve food and medication.

According to The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA), sulphites can cause allergy and hay fever like reactions, wheezing in asthmatics, occasionally hives and very rarely severe, life-threatening anaphylactic reaction. 


Bread & bakery productIn Australia, Propionates (280-283) are commonly used to prevent mould growth in bread and bakery products.

Recently, propionates are also permitted in cheese, fruit and vegetable products.

Very few people realise they are affected by this preservative as most people only notice a difference if they switch to preservative free bread.

Reported side effects include migraine, headaches, stomach upsets, skin rashes, nasal congestion, depression, tiredness, irritability and restlessness.

Bakers who keep their baking equipment clean and mould-free by wiping with vinegar daily, do not need to use propionates as mould inhibitor because a freshly baked loaf of bread does not contain any mould.

However, in large scale, commercial baking factories, hot loaves of bread are commonly put in plastic bags and this predispose to mould formation.


BaconSodium Nitrate (250) and Sodium Nitrite (251) are used in processed meat such as bacon, ham, sausages, hot dogs, luncheon meats, cured meats and smoked fish to preserve the meats and inhibit the growth of bacteria that causes botulism.

They are also used as a colour fixative to give meat the bright red colour and makes old, dead meats appear fresh and appetising.

When used for curing, nitrates react with the meat tissues to form nitrites. Nitrites can react with amines in meats to form nitrosamines, a class of potent carcinogens found in cigarette smoke.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand restrict food manufacturers from putting these preservatives in baby foods but not on foods typically consumed by many children such as hot dogs and luncheon meat.

Infants are very susceptible to nitrate toxicity as they can develop methaemoglobinemia or “blue baby syndrome.” Nitrates may convert to nitrites in the digestive tract. Nitrites can combine with haemoglobin to form methaemoglobin which lacks the ability to carry oxygen in the blood.


So, are these preservatives safe?

» Read more: 10 Tips on How to Avoid Harmful Preservatives in Your Diet

10 Tips on How to Avoid Artificial Food Colourings

July 16th, 2012

In Australia, there are more than 300 food additives which are approved for use including those synthetically made from petrochemicals. Each food additive is identified by its name and a number; and classified by the functions it performs. For a comprehensive list, click here

Additives are used in foods to replace the nutritional value and taste lost in processing, enhance their texture or appearance, prolong shelf life, stop food from decaying and facilitate the preparation of processing.

They are also used to replace ‘real’ ingredients to enhance flavour, giving extra taste to otherwise bland products and to make junk foods more appealing.



Are food additives safe?

Most of their long term safety is untested and questionable, especially the combined effect of literally hundreds of synthetic chemicals found in food.

Many have been linked to allergic reactions, rashes, headaches, mood problems, asthma, behavioural changes in children, obesity, heart disease and cancer.



Who regulates the use of food additives?

The use of food additives in Australia is governed by the Food Standards Code and regulated by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

If an additive is approved for use by FSANZ, it is considered safe. However, there are some food additives approved for use in Australia when they are banned in other countries. 

Under the current legislation, manufacturers are not required to list food additives if they are present in an ingredient that comprises 5 per cent or less of the product. Manufacturers also do not have to specify whether additives are natural or synthetic on the labels of products.

Some manufacturers like to use the word ‘natural’ whenever possible to attract customers. Food additives derived from natural sources are not necessarily safer than other additives. Be aware of this when choosing food products and don’t be swayed by deceptive marketing tactics and claims of natural ingredients.


Food Colourings

Artificial colourings serve no purpose in food. They are only used by manufacturers to enhance the appearance of their products especially those marketed to children.

Would you feed yourself or your children petroleum? Do you know that artificial food colourings are made from coal tar and petrochemicals?


Food Colourings

» Read more: 10 Tips on How to Avoid Artificial Food Colourings

Is Sugar Toxic?…The Bitter Truth Part 2

May 21st, 2012


Is Sugar Toxic?



What is the current recommendation for sugar intake?

The American Heart Association recommends a maximum of 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women and 9 for men.

The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council recommend consuming only moderate amounts of sugars and foods containing added sugars.


 Is Sugar Toxic?


Tips on how to reduce your sugar intake:

1) First you have to believe it is important to reduce your sugar intake.

2) Start by looking at your diet on a daily basis and seeing how much sugar you eat “incidentally.” By that, I mean the hidden source of sugar in foods and drinks that you might not consider as sweet and not naturally recognise as part of your sugar intake. For example, bread, sauces, salad dressings, low fat foods, processed and fast foods.

3) Aim to reduce your sugar intake to no more than 1 or 2 teaspoon per day.

» Read more: Is Sugar Toxic?…The Bitter Truth Part 2

Is Sugar Toxic?…The Bitter Truth Part 1

May 18th, 2012

According to Dr Robert Lustig…

“Sugar is not just empty calorie that makes us fat but sugar is a Poison!!”

Dr Robert Lustig is a paediatric endocrinologist and a leading expert in childhood obesity at the University of California in San Francisco.

Dr Robert Lustig


In Dr Lustig’s view, sugar should be thought of like cigarettes and alcohol, as something that is killing us. Sugar is like a toxic substance that people abuse.

Dr Lustig claims that sugar is to blame for diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. He calls high-fructose corn syrup “the most demonized additive known to man.

Our body handles fructose and glucose differently. Fructose is metabolised primarily by the liver, while the glucose from sugar and starches is metabolised by every cell in the body. When our liver is put under strain by excessive amount of sugar (glucose and fructose), fructose is converted to fat such as LDL cholesterol that increases the risk for heart disease.


Dr Sanjay Gupta - Is Sugar Toxic?


In a recent episode of 60 Minutes titled “Is Sugar Toxic”, Dr. Sanja Gupta interviewed Dr. Robert Lustig where he recommends eliminating all sugar from our diet and insists that sugar should be regulated just like cigarettes and alcohol.

Check out the expression on Jim’s face, the guy from the Board of the Sugar Association at the 11.00 minute segment of the interview.


» Read more: Is Sugar Toxic?…The Bitter Truth Part 1

MSG & Sweetener – what have they got in common that cause brain damage??

May 6th, 2012

The answer is EXCITOTOXINS; glutamate in MSG and aspartame in artificial sweeteners. Excessive excitotoxins overstimulate neurons (brain cells) to death, causing brain damage of varying degrees. MSG works synergistically with aspartame to create even more damage to brain cells.

Avoid them at all cost! Read on to find out why. You will be shocked at what you are about to read.


So what is MSG?

It stands for Monosodium Glutamate, the sodium salt of glutamic acid, one of the most abundant naturally occurring non-essential amino acids.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Chinese Stir Fry


Where can I find MSG?

Low levels of MSG are found naturally in many foods such as broccoli, tomatoes, spinach and grapes. It is commonly used as flavour enhancer in Chinese foods, snack foods, chips, savoury foods, sauces, packet soups, packaged meals and preserved meats.


How can I tell whether certain food has glutamate?

Look for these numbers or names on food labelling

621 – Monosodium L-glutamate (MSG)

622 – Monopotassium L-glutamate

623 – Calcium glutamate

624 – Monoammonium L-glutamate

625 – Magnesium glutamate

Watch out for other non-regulated, hidden sources of MSG such as hydrolysed vegetable or plant protein, plant protein extract, yeast extract, flavourings and seasonings. For a comprehensive list, click here



ASPARTAME – what is it?

It is an artificial, non-saccharide sweetener composed of three ingredients; two amino acids (aspartic acid and phenylalanine) and a methyl ester bond.


Aspartame - Excitotoxins

Aspartame in Soft Drinks

Where can I find aspartame?

It has been marketed as NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure. It is not only commonly found in ‘diet’ sugar-free and low-sugar foods and soft drinks but also in mainstream foods such as snacks, desserts, cordials, juices, yoghurts and chewing gum.


What do I look for on food labels?

951 – Aspartame

962 – Aspartame Acesulphame salt 



What can excitotoxins do to your health?

» Read more: MSG & Sweetener – what have they got in common that cause brain damage??