top of page

One of the largest concerns for our countries health: Food additives.



Our bodies know the difference between fresh, whole foods and manufactured/processed foods. Furthermore, advertising and marketing of food products is very misleading to buyers and also a LEGAL practice that companies are able to engage in! There are more than 10,000+ additives that are allowed in food products alone. These additives are associated with serious health concerns, banned or restricted in other countries, and most importantly should not be in 'food' that is sold AND consumed by buyers.

What are food additives? These are substances added to food products during processing (direct) and/or during their packaging and manufacturing (indirect) used to enhance flavor, appearance, and/or preserve. Under federal law, the term "food additive" is used to describe one category of these substances, but I am using the term as it is commonly understood. Accumulating evidence from nonhuman laboratory and human epidemiologic studies suggests that colorings, flavorings, chemicals deliberately added to food during processing (direct food additives), and substances in food contact materials (including adhesives, dyes, coatings, paper, paperboard, plastic, and other polymers) that may come into contact with food as part of packaging or processing equipment but are not intended to be added directly to food (indirect food additives), may contribute to disease and disability in the population.

Below I will highlight some of the most common and horrific food additives used by the food industry today. However, I will not cover the following yet, but I want you to be aware of and know I will discuss them in a future blog post(s):

  • other contaminants that inadvertently enter the food and water supply (such as aflatoxins), polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxins, metals (including mercury), persistent pesticide residues (such as DDT), and vomitoxin

  • genetically modified foods

  • caffeine or other stimulants intentionally added to food products

Direct food additives:

  1. Artificial food colors. Synthetic artificial food colors (AFCs) are added to foods and beverages for aesthetic reasons, and the resulting brightly colored products are appealing to young children in particular. In some cases, AFCs serve as substitutes for nutritious ingredients, such as in fruit juice drinks that contain little or no actual fruit. Nine AFCs currently are approved for use in the United States: Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 3, Red 40, Citrus Red 2, and Orange B. FDA data indicate that the use of AFCs increased more than fivefold between 1950 and 2012, from 12 to 68 mg per capita per day.

  2. Over the last several decades, studies have raised concerns regarding the effect of AFCs on child behavior and their role in exacerbating attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms. Elimination of AFCs from the diet may provide benefits to children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Although the mechanisms of action have not yet been fully elucidated, at least one AFC, Blue 1, may cross the blood-brain barrier.

  3. Further work is needed to better understand the implications of AFC exposure and resolve the uncertainties across the scientific evidence. The available literature should be interpreted with caution because of the absence of information about the ingredients for a number of reasons, including patent protection. The FDA has set acceptable daily intakes for each of the AFCs. However, these standards, as well as original safety approval for the color additives, are based on animal studies that do not include neurologic or neurobehavioral end points.

  4. Current regulation allows food manufacturers to simply print artificial color on the product label if the ingredient is on an FDA-approved list. But consumers can easily avoid the synthetic colors on FDA’s separate FD&C-certified list, because they must be shown on the label with their full or abbreviated name, such as FD&C Yellow 5 or Yellow 5.

  5. Read labels if you wish to avoid the FD&C-certified colors. In general, artificial colors tend to be hallmarks of more highly processed foods, so they can also be avoided by sticking to fresh produce, meats and whole foods.

  6. Nitrates and nitrites. There has been longstanding concern regarding the use of nitrates and nitrites as preservatives in cured and processed meats, fish, and cheese. Nitrites, which can form from nitrates, react with naturally occurring components of protein called amines. This reaction can form nitrosamines, which are known cancer-causing compounds.

  7. Nitrosamines can form in nitrite or nitrate-treated meat or in the digestive tract. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer specifically classified processed meat (which includes meat that has been salted, cured, or otherwise altered to improve flavor and preservation) as “carcinogenic to humans."

  8. High maternal intake of nitrite-cured meats has also been linked to an increased risk of childhood brain tumors in the offspring. Current FDA regulations currently allow up to 500 ppm of sodium nitrate and 200 ppm of sodium nitrite in final meat products. However, no nitrates or nitrites can be used in food produced specifically for infants or young children.

  9. Some nutritious foods such as spinach and other leafy vegetables are naturally high in nitrates, but human studies on nitrate intake from vegetables have found either no association with stomach cancer or a decreased risk

  10. In recent years, there has been increasing use of alternative sources of nitrate and nitrite preservatives, such as celery powder, in products labeled as “natural” and “organic.” These products may contain nitrates and nitrites in concentrations that can be equivalent to or higher than those found in traditional products using sodium-based sources. Thus, consumers should be aware that with respect to nitrates and nitrites alone, natural and organic products may not provide advantages over conventional products when it comes to nitrate and nitrite preservatives.

  11. Potassium bromate. Potassium bromate is used to strengthen bread and cracker dough and help it rise during baking. It is listed as a known carcinogen by the state of California, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies it as a possible human carcinogen.

  12. It has been shown to cause tumors at multiple sites in animals, is toxic to the kidneys and can cause DNA damage by disrupting the bodies free radicals. Baking converts most potassium bromate to non-carcinogenic potassium bromide, but research in the United Kingdom has shown that bromate residues are still detectable in finished bread in small but significant amounts.

  13. Both the United Kingdom and Canada prohibit the use of potassium bromate in food, and it is not allowed in the European Union either. The United States, however, still allows it to be added to flour.

  14. Propyl paraben. Is both a direct and an indirect food additive. It’s hard to believe that propyl paraben, an endocrine-disrupting chemical, is allowed in food, and even harder to believe that it’s “Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS).”