We believe that most food additives are unhealthy, unsafe and mask a lack of true nutritional value in today’s processed foods. We also believe that additives may cause innumerable adverse reactions, including hyperactivity in children, allergies, asthma, obesity, migraines and disease. Some additives are even carcinogenic or toxic. Unfortunately, we’ve found that on occasion additive manufacturers and the government agencies that regulate them dismiss the detrimental health effects of additives, stating that they would need to be consumed in very high quantities to cause allergic reactions or serious illness.
Numerous research studies have been conducted on individual additives and their negative health affects. However, we are not aware of any studies that have been conducted to understand the detrimental affects of the combination and interaction of all of the multiple additives that our society consumes – aka a ‘chemical stew.’ Our philosophy is that individual additives are bad, and that additives in aggregate are even worse…being more harmful than is commonly viewed. In children, these stews may cause behavior disorders (ADD, ADHD) as well as a myriad of health and learning problems. In children and adults, additive stews are likely to have an adverse affect on moods and behavior, the central nervous system, the digestive system, sleep, memory, speech, airways and more.
Knowing this, we believe that everyone should purchase, prepare and eat their food with care and consciousness – considering the source of their food, the ingredients in their food and, in the end, the taste of their food.
As a society, our palettes have been conditioned to prefer the taste of additive-laced foods. Therefore, a bit of retraining the taste buds is called for…so that we may once again savor the pure, unadulterated flavors found only in pure, wholesome foods.
Ultimately, our goal is to change the way that people eat – selecting wholesome, nutritious foods over highly processed foods that are loaded with additives and lack authentic flavor. We are truly passionate about this and encourage people to share our passion and celebrate the joy of great tasting food.
Food additives are hardly new: they have been with us for thousands of years, probably starting with the discovery that salted meat lasted longer. They are not likely to go away, since Americans depend on an ever-wider variety of processed convenience foods that require additives. Food additives are further entrenched by an entire industry of food additive manufacturers, lobbyists and governmental agencies that have been built around them. Some of these substances purportedly offer health benefits, but most additives are used solely to make foods more attractive, more shelf stable, and palatable to consumers.
In the past 50 years, food additives have been extensively studied by additive manufacturers, universities and independent research organizations. Food additives regulation has been done primarily by the FDA. In that time, there have been several pivotal regulations enacted and studies conducted regarding food additives.
– 1958 & 1960 – Legislation in 1958 and 1960 required manufacturers to prove the safety of any new additive; before that, the burden was on the government to prove the health danger of a substance. We strongly believe the testing of new additives by the additive manufacturers to be self-serving. We would wholeheartedly endorse the use of an independent, third-party research organization with no stake in this industry or its regulation.
The 1960 Color Additives Amendment brought all colors, natural and synthetic, under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Color additives may not be used to deceive consumers or to conceal blemishes or inferiorities in food products. Colors used in foods, drugs, and cosmetics must be approved by the FDA before they can be marketed.
The Food Additives Amendment and the Color Additives Amendments include the Delaney Clause – the most restrictive provision of the 1958 law, which prohibits the approval of an additive “if it is found to induce cancer when ingested by” people or animals, or “if it is found, after tests which are appropriate for the evaluation of the safety of food additives, to induce cancer in” people or animals. Any substance found to cause cancer is regulated under the general safety provisions of these laws, as well as by the Delaney Clause.
Food manufacturers argue against this rule on the grounds that in some cases the cancer risk is minuscule, or that may risk is outweighed by the benefits the additive may provide – as with nitrites and saccharin, weak carcinogens that are still on the market.
– 1973 – Benjamin Feingold M.D. presented extensive research to the American Medical Association linking food additives to learning and behavior disorders. His extensive research was based on over 1,200 cases and included over 3,000 different food additives. His pioneering work has been ridiculed and studies done to disprove his statements. However, in spite of these “negative Feingold studies” about 50% of those who have tried the Feingold diet (even subjects in published studies that went against Feingold’s Hypothesis) had significant decreases in symptoms of hyperactivity.
Interestingly, “negative study” researchers focused on only 10 food dyes versus the 3,000 food additives that Feingold had considered. In spite of several studies attempting to disprove Feingold’s “Food Additives Cause Hyperactivity” hypothesis, it became evident that food additives DO play a major role in the hyperactivity of children.
– 1990 – The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) was enacted.This law requires that all packaged foods bear nutrition labeling and all health claims for foods are consistent with terms defined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
– 1996 – The Food Quality Protection Act establishes a health-based safety standard for pesticide residues in food. It also incorporates specific recommendations put forth in the 1993 National Academy of Sciences Report, Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children, which recognizes the special sensitivity and exposure of children to pesticides and requires an explicit determination that pesticide tolerances are safe for children.
The “Right to Know” provision mandates that information provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding pesticides and foods be made available at point-of-purchase.
Food additives are chemicals, both natural and artificial, which are added to foods, beverages, pharmaceuticals and other products. They generally fall into four categories – preservatives, flavor and texture enhancers, coloring agents and nutritional supplements.
- Preservatives are added to products to prevent spoilage and/or physical or chemical changes that affect color, flavor, texture or appearance.
- Flavor and Texture Enhancers are added to food to improve its flavor or to replace flavor lost during processing.
- Coloring Agents are used extensively in processed food to improve its appearance.
- Nutritional Supplements are added to foods to enhance vitamins and minerals commonly lost during processing.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) – flavor enhancer
- Derived from cornstarch, usually a combination of 50% fructose and 50% glucose. Treated with an enzyme that converts glucose to fructose, which results in a sweeter product. Used in many mass-produced foods including soft drinks, baked goods, jelly, syrups, condiments (like ketchup), fruits and desserts.
- Studies have shown high consumption of fructose contributes to weight gain, fatty liver disease and diabetes. Fructose is not metabolized in the same way glucose is by the body. It doesn’t release the hormone Leptin, which regulates blood glucose levels and satiation (the feeling of fullness after eating).
- HFCS is linked to many other health effects, including increased risk of heart disease, and fructose may alther the magnesium balance in the body, resulting in accelerated bone loss.
- Artificial Sweeteners – flavor enhancers
- Substances that impart sweetness to foods but supply little or no energy to the body; also called non-nutritive or alternative sweeteners.
- Artificial Sweeteners (Aspartame, Acesulfame K and Saccharin) cause behavioral problems, hyperactivity, allergies, kidney and liver damage, and are possibly carcinogenic. The government cautions against the use of any artificial sweetener by children and pregnant women. Anyone with PKU (phenylketonuria—a problem of phenylalanine, an amino acid, metabolism) should not use aspartame (Nutrasweet).
- The safety of many of artificial sweeteners, especially Splenda, is heavily debated. More research needs to be done.
- MSG (monosodium glutamate) – flavor enhancer
- MSG is the sodium salt of the amino acid glutamic acid and a form of glutamate. Used to intensify meat and spice flavorings in meats, condiments, pickles, soups, candy and baked goods.
- Asians originally used a seaweed broth to obtain the flavor-enhancing effects of MSG, but today MSG is made by a fermenting process using starch, sugar beets, sugar cane or molasses.
- MSG causes common allergic and behavioral reactions including headaches, dizziness, chest pains, depression and mood swings; also a possible neurotoxin.
- Women who ingest MSG while pregnant increase the risk of the developing fetus having a smaller pituitary, thyroid, ovary or testes. This results in reproductive dysfunction in both females and males. MSG also increases the allergic load, putting someone at risk of developing sensitivities to numerous chemicals and other substances. It can make consumers more sensitive to products containing aspartame (NutraSweet).
- Hydrolyzed Proteins – flavor enhancers
- Hydrolyzed proteins, used by the food industry to enhance flavor, are proteins that have been chemically broken apart into amino acids. The chemical breakdown of proteins may result in the formation of free glutamate that joins with free sodium to form MSG. In this case, the presence of MSG does not need to be disclosed on labeling. However, labeling is required when MSG is added as a direct ingredient.
- The symptoms of free glutamate toxicity are many and varied. So many symptoms can occur that it is often difficult to believe that it is the free glutamate causing them. How could a single substance cause such diverse reactions? One of the reasons is that it acts like a neurotropic drug, a substance that affects the nervous system. This substance can affect insulin metabolism and diabetes resulting in both excessive insulin secretion and insulin resistance.
- Other common symptoms due to free glutamate are:
- Anxiety attacks, asthma-like symptoms, Attention Deficit Syndrome, bloating, burning sensations, carpal tunnel syndrome, chest pains, depression, diarrhea, disorientation and confusion, dizziness, drowsiness
- Fatigue, flushing, gastric distress, headaches & migraines, hyperactivity in children, Infertility and other endocrine problems, insomnia, irregular or rapid heart beat, joint pain, mood swings, mouth lesions, nausea and vomiting, numbness such as finger tips, seizures, shortness of breath, simple skin rash, slurred speech, stomach aches, tremors, vomiting, weaknes
- Artificial Colors – coloring agents
- Artificial food colors are described as one of the most dangerous additives. More than 90% of food colorings now in use are manufactured. The numbered colors, called synthetic colors, are made from coal tar or petroleum.
- Studies have shown artificial colors have an affect on children’s behavior, triggering ADD, ADHD and hyperactivity. Artificial food colors have been linked to allergies and asthma, and are a possible carcinogen.
- In particular, FD&C Yellow No. 5, or tartrazine, is used to color beverages, candy, ice cream, custards and other foods. The color additive may cause hives in as many as one out of 10,000 people and trigger asthma attacks in those with sensitivies. By law, whenever the color is added to foods or taken internally, it must be listed on the label. This allows the small portion of people who may be sensitive to FD&C Yellow No. 5 to avoid it.
- Nitrates & Nitrites – color fixatives
- Nitrates and nitrites (potassium and sodium) are substances made up of nitrogen, oxygen, and various other organic and inorganic compounds. They are naturally present in a number of foods, but are also used as color fixatives in cured and processed meats (i.e. bacon, bologna, frankfurters) and in some types of smoked fish (i.e. salmon, tuna).
- Nitrates and nitrites combine with natural stomach saliva and food substances to create nitrosamines, powerful cancer-causing additives.
- Hydrogenated Oils (aka Trans Fats or Trans Fatty Acids) – preservative
- Hydrogenation – the process of adding hydrogen gas under high pressure to liquid oils to turn them into solids at room temperature – increases the shelf life and flavor stability of foods containing polyunsaturated fats.
- Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are much less expensive than the fats originally favored by bakers, such as butter or lard.
- Hydrogenated fats, also know as trans fats, have been found to contribute to cardiovascular disease, such as fat-clogged arteries. They are associated with many serious diseases such as cancer, atherosclerosis, diabetes, obesity, immune system dysfunction, low-birth-weight babies, birth defects, decreased visual acuity, sterility, difficulty in lactation and problems with bones and tendons.
- Amounts of trans fat has been required on food labels as of 2006. Careful label scrutiny of both ingredient lists and nutrition facts statements is still necessary. A nutrition facts statement can state “0 grams trans fat” as long as it contains .5 grams or less per serving. Listings of partially hydrogenated fats on an ingredient list indicates the presense of a trans fat.
- Sodium Benzoate – preservative
- Sodium benzoate is used as a preservative, effectively killing most yeast, bacteria and fungi. It is used primarily in foods such as preserves, salad dressings, carbonated drinks, jams and fruit juices.
- Sodium Benzoate combines with Vitamin C to become benzoic acid, a known carcinogen.
- Calcium Disodium EDTA (Ethylenediamine Tetraacetic Acid) – preservative and sequestrant/humectant (aids in water retention)
- Used as a food additive to prevent crystal formation and to inhibit color loss. Used in canned and carbonated soft drinks for flavor retention. Also used in dressings and mayonnaise as a preservative.
- Often added to foods – particularly meat, poultry and fish – to help retain moisture and soft texture.
- May cause intestinal upset, muscle cramps, kidney damage, and blood in urine. This additive is on the FDA priority list of food additives to be studied for mutagenic, teratogenic, subacute and reproductive effects.
- BHA/BHT (Butylated Hydroxyanisole/Butylated Hydroxytoluene ) – preservative
- Known to cause cancer in animals and disrupt the body’s hormone balance.
- Banned for use in food in Japan (1958), Romania and Australia. In the US, it has been banned from use in food for infants and small children.
- There is some controversy with regard to BHT and cancer risk with some studies showing the potential to increase the risk and some showing a decrease in risk. Some evidence also links BHT with hyperactivity in children. Several food industries have vaoluntarily eliminated this additive from their products, and since the 1970s, it has been steadily replaced with the lesser-studied BHA.
AN EXCEPTION FOR NOW: WINE
While we are opposed to added sulfites found in wine, it is very hard to avoid them. Virtually all wines – even the organic ones – contain some level of sulfites, which are naturally produced by yeast during the fermentation process. Despite this, we seek out and evaluate new wines, to which no sulfites have been added as a pesticide or preservative.
- Sulfites – preservatives
- Sulfur-based compounds that are a natural by-product of fermentation. Most wines contain low levels of sulfites, which are used to protect wine from oxidation and to kill off bactera. Sulfites are also used to clean and sterilize equipment and barrels, and may sometimes be sprayed in a vineyard to prevent disease and pests.
- In 1988, the Bureau of Tobacco, Alcohol and Firearms required a warning label – “Contains Sulfites” – on wines, beers and spirits that exceed the 10 parts per million (ppm) threshold. Wines that contain less than 10ppm sulfites do not require this warning.
- Sulfites are safe for most people. However, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, approximately 1% of the population has some sensitivity to sulfur compounds and sulfites and about 5% of asthma sufferers can have adverse sulfite reactions. Asthmatics who depend on corticosteroids are especially prone to sulfite sensitivity and can have severe reactions. For that reason, in 1986 the FDA banned the use of sulfites on fresh fruits and vegetables (except potatoes) intended to be sold or served raw to consumers. People with allergies to aspirin are also at an elevated risk for reaction to sulfites. The reaction can be fatal and requires immediate treatment at an emergency room, and can include sneezing, swelling of the throat, and hives. Sulfites are also believed to cause headaches in some people.
- Come from a plant or mineral source that has not been altered except by chopping, grinding, separating, drying, freezing, heating or fermenting
- Contain no chemical additives (including colorings) or preservatives
- When used on meats and poultry, ‘natural’ means minimally processed and free of artificial products (such as coloring and nitrite)
- Natural does not necessarily cover hormone use, organic feed or other environmental practices
- Signifies foods grown under an ecological management system that generally rejects synthetic fertilizers and pesticides
- Promotes practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony
- Required by the Organic Food Production Act and National Organic Program (NOP) to meet organic standards and receive mandatory certification of organic production
- Foods as near their original form as possible; generally the least processed version of any foods in a given category
- This include grains, beans, fruits and vegetables
- Many believe these foods retain a greater natural nutritional value than foods that have been heavily processed or refined even though vitamins and minerals may have been added back into the formula after processing
ORGANIZATIONS & WEBSITES – FEDERAL AGENCIES
ORGANIZATIONS & WEBSITES – CONSUMER
- Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) – www.cspinet.org
- A non-profit education and advocacy organization that focuses on improving the safety and nutritional quality of the food supply
- Consumer Federation of America – www.consumerfed.org
- A federation of national, state, regional and community consumer organizations dedicated to consumer action through legislation, information and education
ORGANIZATIONS & WEBSITES – MEDICAL
- American Dietetic Association – www.eatright.org
- The nation’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, with nearly 65,000 members
- Founded in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1917 by a visionary group of women, led by Lenna F. Cooper and ADA’s first president, Lulu C. Graves, dedicated to helping the government conserve food and improve the public’s health and nutrition during World War I.
- ADA ‘s commitment to helping people enjoy healthy lives brings the Association into the forefront of five critical health areas facing all Americans:
- Obesity and overweight
- Complementary care and dietary supplements
- Safe and nutritious food supply
- Human genome and geneti