Cass loves to eat bread and her favorite is white bread from the 2 leading bread manufacturers in our country. She eats bread everyday. On days that we run out of the mil’s homemade bread, I will buy brand G or M bread from the supermarket. The other day, one of my friends shared in her Facebook wall that one of our country’s leading bread manufacturers use high amount of food preservative in their breads. She said that a few days after the expiration date of the bread (kept in room temperature), the bread was still not mouldy (or moldy) yet. For breads made without the use of preservative, it would most probably turn mouldy on the third day, if kept at room temperature.
Besides store-bought bread, my kids and I also eat store-bought biscuits, snacks and other food that have preservatives and food additives in them. Even tomato ketchup, soy sauce, oyster sauce and yoghurt drinks have food additives. We cannot possibly avoid food sans food additives in our fast paced lives, unless we have all the time in the world to bake and cook all that we eat from scratch, made from ingredients that are 100% free from food additives. How many of us have the time to go to great lengths to do that so that we only eat 100% natural food? I would love to eat only natural food sans food additives, if only I have the time, wouldn’t you?
One of the food additives that make me shudder is bright food coloring on cakes, cookies, jellies, candies, sweets and snacks. The sight of bright red, blue, green, orange and yellow in the icing sugar used to decorate cakes really freak me out. I rarely allow my kids to eat the parts where artificial colorings are used. They are allowed to eat just the cake, minus the icing and decor with bright colors.
Foods that have additives and preservatives do have adverse effects on our health, if there is prolonged intake by our body and if eaten in large amounts. Some of the known dangers of food additives and preservatives are as follows:
1) Benzoates can trigger the allergies such as skin rashes and asthma as well as believed to be causing brain damage.
2) Bromates destroy the nutrients in the foods. It can give rise to nausea and diarrhea.
3) Butylates are responsible for high blood cholesterol levels as well as impaired liver and kidney function.
4) Caffeine is a colorant and flavorant that has diuretic, stimulant properties. It can cause nervousness, heart palpitations and occasionally heart defects.
5) Saccharin causes toxic reactions and allergic response, affecting skin, gastrointestinal tract and heart. It may also cause tumors and bladder cancer.
6) Red Dye 40 is suspected to cause certain birth defects and possibly cancer.
7) Mono and di-glycerides can cause birth defects, genetic changes and cancer.
8) Caramel is a famous flavoring and coloring agent that can cause vitamin B6 deficiencies. It can cause certain genetic defects and even cancer.
9) Sodium chloride can lead to high blood pressure, kidney failure, stroke and heart attack.
10) Eating a diet high in packaged convenience food may cause you to consume so much food additives and preservatives that you begin to feel sluggish and run-down on a regular basis. Food additives and preservatives can make you feel sleepy and lethargic and may also contribute to frequent headaches. They also suggest that long term consumption of these chemicals may also cause damage to the cells in your body, which may lead to cancer and other dangerous conditions.
11) Sodium nitrate: Sodium nitrate tops the list of dangerous food additives. It is highly toxic and stimulates the formation of nitrosamines which are highly carcinogenic (cancer causing) in nature. This deadly compound takes up a good portion of our processed meats, acting as a good preservative which prevents bacterial growth and fast decaying of meat. Skip the hot dogs and bologna and choose from organic chicken and lean meats.
12) Propyl Gallate: Propyl Gallate is a component of meat product, vegetable oils, potato sticks, chewing gum and ready-to-make soup mixes, which prevents them from spoiling, basically acting as a preservative. Studies however show that, regular consumption of these products may cause colon and stomach cancer.
13) Potassium bromate: Potassium bromate is an oxidizing agent used in the bread-making process. This compound has demonstrated carcinogenic effects and has also proven to be nephrotoxic (toxic to the kidneys) both in man and animals. It has developed thyroid and kidney tumors among rats, when they were fed with bread using potassium bromate as the oxidizing agent.
14) Food coloring: Food colorings like blue #1 is responsible for causing cancer whereas red #40 may lead to ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in children. Red#3 which is widely used in baking and giving artificial color to cherries induces thyroid tumors in rats. Stay away from foods and drinks that look unnaturally colorful and bright.
15) Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) : Commonly known as Chinese salt, this compound features near the top of the list of dangerous food additives. Why? Firstly, because MSG is now a part of almost everything you consume during the entire day. This amino acid is used to flavor salads, soups and other food preparations and was typically used in Chinese food preparations. However, its use has now spread to the Eastern and Western areas, and by now, almost every restaurant or fast food joints literally coat their foods with MSG.
16) Butylated hydroxytoluene: Butylated hydroxytoluene is found in chewing gums, potato chips and other packaged foods as a preservative. In spite of being approved by the FDA, they are proven to be cancer-causing, making them among the top 12 dangerous food additives. One simple way to avoid it is to check the label. Many brands do not use this preservative, so you can switch to using those brands of packaged foods.
17) Acesulfame-K: A new sweetener which is now being used in various soft drinks and baked foods, Acesulfame-K, is actually 200 times sweeter than natural sugar, and is responsible for causing cancer among mice. Also, it affects the thyroid gland in other animals like rabbits and dogs.
18) Chloropropanols: This family of drugs is common in Asian food sauces like black bean, soy, and oyster sauce. Two specific substances within this category are known to be cancer producing and are banned in many countries.
Stay alert for these additives displayed on food labels and avoid them to stay healthy. As far as possible avoid fast foods and processed foods and go for simple, home cooked meals.