A lot of food additives are still harmful today and we all consume them. But the only thing we can do to overcome eating of it is educating more about the harmful food additives. Because the producer is required to put all the ingredients on the label, we can prevent to eat from it when we always read the label on a product before we purchase it. But because the words of these additives are foreign and tedious defined a lot of people skip over them. The producers are clever today. When there is labelled onto the product that is doesn’t contain ‘Natural flavors’ or ‘No preservatives’, it doesn’t mean that there are no other harmful food additives present .
There is already been told about a lot of food additives. About the effect of sweeteners, colourings, etc. There is also another group of food additives that is important and worldwide used a lot. This are the preservatives, which are added to food to increase food safety and enlarge the shelf-life by limiting bacterial growth. I will give you a short overview of a few preservatives and their effect on human or animal health .
- Benzoic acid and sodium benzoate: these are used for preservation of soft drinks, fruit juices and acidic foods. Sodium benzoate is even used for the inborn errors of the urea cycle, but can have some adverse effects as anorexia. The preservative can cause animal toxicities, but with human it is will involve mild hypersensitivity reactions .
- Sulphites: Sulphites are present in beer and wine, packaged fruits, vegetables and seefood. Sulphites is added to prevent discoloration. A response to this food preservative is hypersentivity, especially for asthmatic patients. But there are also sulphite-induced symptoms with patients without asthma or an allergy. Symptoms could be urticarial, angioedema or even IgE anaphylaxis, which is really critic. Therefore the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t permit sulphites in raw food, only in processed food. When sulphites is used in a processed food, it has to be mentioned on the label if the concentration exceeds 10 ppm. Only substances, that aren’t generally recognized as safe (GRAS), require FDA authorization to use it as a food additive .
- Nitrites and nitrates: these preservatives are added to meat, because they can prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum. Nitrites form N-nitrosamines when they react with amines in food and will decompose into free-radical alkyl carbonium ions, which are mutagenic in rodents. There is also been demonstrated a higher dose of nitrite and salivary nitrate in oral cancer patients .
- Propionic acid: Propionic acid is added to pastry. In rats it can cause fore stomach tumors, but in human it is not proved if there are caused tumors .
- Antibiotics: this is a very well-known form of preservatives. It is used to control pathogenic organism during food production. Because of the antibiotics in food, human will get a higher bacterial resistance when they consume antibiotic containing food .
Especially the risk of getting more and more resistant to bacteria in the future is very dangerous. But everybody knows preservatives are necessary to conserve food for a longer period. What do you think about it? And what can we for example do about it to not become super resistant human beings in the future? Is there a possibility to prevent it?
 How do food additives affect your health, Joe Costello, 16 December 2010, http://www.foodadditivesworld.com/articles/food-additives.html, consulted on 10 March 2011
 Cyrus Rangan et al., Food additives and sensitives, Barceloux D, Medical Toxicology of Natural Substances: Foods, Fungi, Medicinal Herbs, Toxic Plants, and Venomous Animals, John Wiley & Sons, 2008. p. 22-33