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.
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?