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Food additive advantages
Some additives improve or maintain the food's nutritive value. Vitamins a, c, d, e, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, pyridoxine, folic acid, calcium carbonate, zinc oxide and iron are often added to foods such as flour, bread, biscuits, breakfast cereals, pasta, margarine, milk, iodized salt and gelatin desserts. Instead of vitamin c, you may see ascorbic acid listed. Alpha-tocopherol is another name for vitamin e, and beta carotene is a source of vitamin a. In addition to providing nutrients, food additives can help reduce spoilage, improve the appearance of foods and increase the availability of a variety of foods throughout the year.
Food additive disadvantages
Some food additives can potentially cause harmful side effects. For example, butylated hydroxyanisole, commonly known as bha, is a preservative used in foods including potato chips, crackers, beer, baked goods and cereal. It has been classified by the u. S. Department of health and human services as a preservative" reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen" sulfites, which are added to baked goods, wine, condiments and snack foods, could cause hives, nausea, diarrhea and shortness of breath in some people.
Colors are additives, too
Coloring, in the form of dyes, pigments or other substances, is technically considered a food additive. These substances are often used to enhance color that's lost due to storage or processing. Pigments derived from natural sources, such as vegetables, minerals or animals, are exempt from certification. Man-made colors require testing by both the manufacturer and the fda to ensure they meet specific guidelines for purity.
Artificial preservatives can help your food last longer without becoming contaminated with food-borne illnesses, which is the reason they're found in so many different processed foods. Although all artificial preservatives used in the united states have been deemed" generally recognized as safe" by the u. S. Food and drug administration, not all of these additives are 100-percent safe for everyone. Some preservatives are associated with adverse effects, which can involve an unpleasant reaction in people sensitive to a particular additive or a potential increased risk for cancer.
Artificial preservatives may act as antioxidants, make food more acidic, reduce the moisture level of food, slow down the ripening process and prevent the growth of microorganisms, all of which help the food last longer. This means you can make fewer trips to the store and have less food waste because the preservatives help minimize the amount of food you buy that goes bad before you can eat it.
Limiting foodborne illnesses
Approximately one out of every six americans get a foodborne illness each year, according to the centers for disease control and prevention. Without artificial preservatives to limit the spread of the organisms that cause these illnesses, this number might be even higher. Some of these illnesses, such as botulism, can be deadly.
Potential adverse reactions
Certain preservatives, including sulfites and sodium benzoate, may cause adverse reactions in a small percentage of the population. Sulfites help limit the growth of bacteria in wine and the discoloration of dried fruit, but can cause potentially deadly allergic reactions in sensitive individuals, including rashes, low blood pressure, diarrhea, flushing, abdominal pain, asthmatic reactions and anaphylactic shock. Sodium benzoate, also called benzoic acid, is used in acidic foods to keep microorganisms from growing. In sensitive individuals, it can cause asthma, hives.
Increased cancer risk
Although sodium benzoate is usually considered safe for people who aren't sensitive to it, when combined with ascorbic acid in acidic foods it can produce benzene, which may slightly increase your risk for leukemia and other types of cancer, according to the center for science in the public interest. Nitrates and nitrites, which are often used to preserve cured meats, such as lunch meat and hot dogs, may also increase your risk for certain types of cancers, according to the u. S. Environmental protection agency.