andrew schneider investigates

March 6, 2008

Removing additives could be harmful

Filed under: Environmental health issues,FDA,Food additives,Food Safety — Andrew Schneider @ 08:46

Numerous studies have documented the negative effects of food additives — most recently a study linked some coloring agents to hyperactivity in children, but a leading British nutrition journal said the effects of removing additives completely could be much worse.

The necessity of artificial additives in foods means they will continue to be used despite being found to have adverse effects on behavior, a leading nutritionist says.

According to a recent posting on Food Navigator, in the latest edition of the British Nutrition Foundation’s Nutrition Bulletin, Dr. Claire Williamson reviewed landmark studies on preservatives and the industry’s response to the findings and came up with some interesting conclusions.

“Additives carry out a variety of useful functions and play a key role in maintaining the food qualities and characteristics that consumers demand, but are particularly important in keeping food safe,” Williamson said. “So some additives, particularly preservatives are necessary and probably here to stay.”

The food information website reported that some food manufacturers have reformulated their products to remove such additives. For instance, Nestle Rowntree removed additives from all its products in 2005.

However, Williamson said: “Whereas it may be possible to remove some additives from foods, preservatives are necessary because without them, food would quickly spoil.

“Benzoic acid, which is found naturally in cranberries, bilberries, plums, cloves and cinnamon, is added to processed foods to prevent the growth of microbes, particularly pathogenic molds and fungi. As John Emsley, a chemical scientist, comments on the Sense About Science website, if this preservative was removed from food products, there could be an increase in the number of cases of food poisoning.”

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