23 September 2016
Food additives are substances added to foods to enhance their flavor or appearance. Some are added to maintain freshness, while others are added to improve nutritional value, taste, texture, or appearance. There are two types of additives: direct and indirect. Direct food additives are those added directly to the food for a certain purpose. Indirect food additives are those added by accident through storage, packaging, or other handling. While some of these additives are healthy, some of them are not. Many of these unhealthy additives have been banned in many other countries, while the United States has continues to allow their use. Why is this?
A major reason for this is because different countries have different government regulations. For example, regulation of food additives in Europe is very strict. Basically, if there is any evidence that a substance is harmful or dangerous to the human body, precautions should be taken immediately. On the other hand, the United States government will not take any action until it is proven that the substance is clearly dangerous (Grossman).
Most of the harmful food additives are found in common foods that millions of Americans eat on a daily basis. Coloring agents, such as blue 1, blue 2, yellow 5, and yellow 6, can be found in cakes, candy, cheese, medicines, sports drinks, and several other foods in order to make them appear more appetizing even though the recipe never changes. Sadly enough, these dyes come from coal tar, which can be found in head lice shampoos and in the protection seals of industrial floors. Another popular additive is Olestra. Olestra can be found in several foods, especially in fat-free potato chips. Consumers buy fat-free chips with the idea that they are healthier for them, yet many people are unaware of the harmful side effects of this additive. This fat substitute causes the depletion of fat-soluble vitamins and carotenoids, causing intestinal problems (Goyanes).
There are several other additives and ingredients, much like Olestra, that are substituted for fats and sugars in order to make foods “healthier.” The problem is, when people see foods with “fat-free” or “100 calories” printed across the package, they buy them thinking they are getting something that actually is not bad for them. However, the ingredients used in place of these fats and sugars might be even more harmful than eating regular chips and cookies. A major issue is people do not really know what they are eating. They see the words “fat-free” and immediately choose it instead of questioning how that food could be made without fats or sugars or what is used in place of them.
Food additives are everywhere and it is important to know which ones are harmful. However, not all of them are. Some of them actually benefit people. Vitamins E and C added to foods can help keep people healthy and can even help prevent heart disease and cancer (Food Additives – Good or Bad?). Without food additives, most foods would not even make it to the shelf in a grocery store. Foods would go bad extremely quickly (Globus).
Whether food additives are healthy or not it is extremely important to know what is going into the human body and how it will be affected. The government has a tough job regulating what additives are allowed or not allowed. Although the regulations differ based on the country, the government is still trying to keep its’ people safe from harm.
Globus, Sheila. “Pros And Cons Of Food Additives.” Current Health 2 28.2 (2001): 17. Academic Search Alumni Edition. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.
“Food Additives – Good or Bad?” Food Additives – Good or Bad? N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.
Grossman, Elizabeth. “Banned in Europe, Safe in the US.” Ensia. N.p., 9 June 2014. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.
Goyanes, Cristina. “14 Unhealthy Ingredients You’re Eating.” Shape Magazine. N.p., 29 Apr. 2014. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.