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Food Additives and their Negative Effects

Updated on March 9, 2011

Additives are Dangerous for Health

Colorful packaging may forget you to think what is inside the packet!
Colorful packaging may forget you to think what is inside the packet!
Find packaged food that has no additives in them
Find packaged food that has no additives in them
Avoid use of food that contains additives in any form
Avoid use of food that contains additives in any form

Food additives are added to food to preserve them, to improve taste or to impart color and appearance. Some form of food additives are in use from time immemorial. Sometimes the use of additives can not be ignored because without it the food will not last long. The use of additives have been increased greatly during past few years but along with its extreme use in food items a debate over its possible benefits and health risks too got interest.

History of Additives:

When men first grew crops he need not to use additives to preserve food. The population was low and the need for food quite easily fulfilled from the available food sources. With the passage of time men learnt new techniques and population grew, as a result, men started to preserve food. For the preservation of food he used many ingredients naturally available. Egyptians, Greeks and Romans did food preservation by the help of food additives like salts, sugar and oil. Food additives used then were of natural origin. During pickling, drying meat and bacon and in preserving sweets additives were required. Vinegar was also a very common preservative as well as flavoring agent. For centuries people did not know that additives can be obtained from synthetic route too. Natural additives were not harmful for health rather they had benefits which one cannot gain from artificial additives.

With the vast production of processed and junk food the importance of additives have been increased manifold. Synthetic companies produce additives and sell them to the food companies.

Types of Additives:

There are several types of additives At first only natural additives were in use but today most of the additives used in the food industries are of synthetic route. Additives have been given numbers and they are usually recognized by their numbering instead of names.

Flavoring Agents:

Flavoring agents are of millions of types and numbers. Natural flavoring agents are used in very rare cases in packaged foods. Natural flavors are obtained form animal and vegetable sources. Lemons, oranges, and carrots are some of the common vegetables and fruits from which flavors are extracted. Synthetic additives are common and comes in variety of flavors and tastes.


Preservatives are added in food to preserve them from microbial action from long time. Naturally oil, salt and sugar are preservatives and have least side effects. From long time in history oil and vinegar both are in use as preservatives during pickling. The advantage of natural preservatives are manifold: they not only preserve the food but they enhance flavor, like in pickling addition of oil or vinegar gives special flavor to the pickle. Salt too is added as preservative in many food items. While drying lemons at home we add salt; though, lemon itself contains citric acid and do not get spoiled after getting dry. In canned food too use of sugar and salt not only acts as preservative but add flavor to the food. Synthetic preservatives have been either extracted from natural sources and processed chemically or they are prepared from chemicals available widely in the market.

Coloring Agents:

Coloring agents enhance the color of the food. Most coloring agents are synthetic. Use of coloring agents in certain foods have been prohibited by law in many countries. For example use of color in margarine to give it yellowish shade is prohibited but still many companies add color in margarine.

Benefits of Additives:

While additives can change the natural properties of food but they are quiet benificial for packaged foods.

Food additives improve taste of food by the addition of natural or synthetic flavoring agents. Many packaged food companies add food additives in juices, tarts, jellies, jams and in marmalades to give them peculiar taste, aroma and flavor.

With the addition of additives food can retain its quality for longer period of time. Microbial growth is more likely to take place in food if additives are not present. Many times food stuff get wasted just because of the absence of food additives.

Some food additives are used in food to improve the consistency of food. Processed food may not have good consistency by the addition of food additives food can get excellent consistency.

Coloring agents are also one of the major class of additives, coloring agents impart color to the food and make it more desirable to eat.

Adverse Effects of Additives:

Some additives especially natural omnes are thought to be cafe for health others are considered to have some negative effects on health.

Some additives are carcinogenic in nature, like many other synthetic products additives too are thought to have carcinogens which can increase chances of cancer.

Hyperactivity is seen in many children who consistently consume processed food comntaining additives.

Migrain in some people is associated with the use of additives.

Asthma, skin rashes and allergies have also been associated with the use of additives.

How to Avoid Additives?

To avoid additives you just need to have some knowledge and so control over the use of packaged food. Following are some guidelines that can work for sure.

Check or read the label before purchasing any processed or packaged food. If the label contains many additives in the form of coloring agents, preservatives or flavoring agents, avoid it. Food companies that use less additives proudly state it on their label, so it is better to read label and than purchase any packaged food.

Buy only an approved brand food stuff. Do not buy cheap products that can have many additives in them.

Add to your diet healthy food like nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables so that you may not feel the temptation for unhealthy food.

Last tip is that try to avoid packaged food as much as possible. It is not difficult, make it a habit and tell your children that food made at home is delicious as well as clean and free of chemicals.

Be modest in eating packaged food and don't consider avoiding it a burden!

For more details on The Negative Effects of Additives Read my Hub


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    • profile image

      KJ 2 years ago

      A really good article that helped me out in my biology project.

    • profile image

      sammy 5 years ago

      what r five effect of proccesing packaged food?

    • profile image

      Elsie Ekpenyong 5 years ago

      food packaging was developed by man, so should be strictly checked before consumption.

    • profile image

      s e 6 years ago

      very helpful for my biology homework!!