Today I wanted to talk about additives, we always see everyone avoiding them at all cost. What are E numbers? What do they do? Are they safe? I think hearing about the other side of additives is interesting, hope you find it interesting also.
Whatever additives you are wanting to avoid, do you know the reason why you are avoiding it? Some people avoid because they react to specific additives, this is a good reason to avoid right? Yep. Because the food with the additives may not be that nutritious? Yep.
Then there are people avoiding them because they just think they should be, because other are, because pages they follow say they should. These are the pages that will pick a product and then point out all the E numbers and then continue to scare you by how “bad” they are. In reality they are not bad in the dose that you would consume. You also get a dose of guilt, food shaming or making you feel like a bad parent. I hate this. I know these peeps mean well, but it’s not really telling you the whole story.
What is actually going on is a mixture of; thinking they are doing the right thing by you, not understanding E numbers or toxicology or anything like that. Might I add the additive webpages don’t always have it right, where do you think they get THEIR info from? They will only tell you a worst case scenario, not what happens to the average bearJ
or they just THINK they understand, or there is plain old scaremongering and exaggeration. You see this all the time, yeah…I mean when you really look at pages and are looking for it you see it more. Many people are even making lots of money telling you all the things you shouldn’t eat. People don’t always want to know all the things they shouldn’t eat they want to know, “well, what the hell CAN I eat?”
I would like to add I was one of these pages, in honesty I didn’t know better, I actually thought I was helping people, in reality I didn’t really research it at all, I looked up an additive website, presented what they said and took that as fact without context of a real life situation. That’s not to say there are not exceptions as there are people who do not tolerate some additives-this isn’t about those people. Just like with any food there is always someone who cannot have it. Doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing, it’s just a bad thing for you.
What is being presented to you is what happens at doses that will never be consuming, animals studies (not so bad) I know I sound like a broken record, but the poison is in the dose, if you are not consuming it is toxic amount then it is deemed harmless, like salt, caffeine, zinc, iron, vitamin A…water….this is what some people are not grasping the concept of.
Well, let's start with a short explanation of what E numbers are. E stands for Europe, and the E number code relates to a set of EU rules about which foods can contain them and how much you should be able to consume in a day.
The European Union legislation defines them as " any substance not normally consumed as a food in itself and not normally used as a characteristic ingredient of food, whether or not it has nutritive value, the intentional addition of which to food for a technological purpose in the manufacture, processing, preparation, treatment, packaging, transport or storage of such food results, or may be reasonably expected to result, in it or its by-products becoming directly or indirectly a component of such foods."
Food additives have been developed over the years to meet the needs of food production, as making foods on a large scale is a very different task to making them in the kitchen at home. Additives are needed to ensure processed food remains in a good condition throughout its journey from the factory to the shop and to the consumer at home.
Preservatives are especially important. Microbial spoilage results in high levels of waste as food is transported from the farm to the table –Without preservatives the rates of food poisoning would be much higher. Food preservation also saves money for consumers – less is wasted because it has spoiled or gone stale. If there are no preservatives in your food what method of “preservation” is there? Salting, sugar, vinegar, drying-these are all methods of preservation. Same thing with “nitrate” free ham, what is preserving it then? These foods are at a high risk for contamination. So they use celery salt because its “natural” it’s naturally full of nitrates which during the curing process form nitrites and its derivative sodium nitrite. Chemically it is the same thing weather it sodium nitrate made in a lab or naturally occurring, and you usually are paying more for “nitrate free” bacon/ham. If they used nothing your smallgoods would be a yukky grey colour and would probably put most people off. I have made my own bacon before and can confirm its colour! If your bacon/ham is not grey there are preservatives in there of some kind. Doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing, better than food poisoning.
Take for example the nitrate free bacon ($34.99kg) from “the free range butcher”
Companies starting making nitrate free small goods due to consumer demand which was based on old studies and myths.
Ingredients of their nitrate free bacon;
Fresh pork, Mineral salts (451) Sugar-Dextrose (Tapioca or Maize) Antioxidant (316)
E451 are triphosphates which are salts of sodium/potassium with phosphates. All are produced synthetically from the respective carbonates and phosphoric acid.
E316 is Sodium erythorbate which is the sodium salt of erythorbic acid, a synthetic isomer of vitamin C (but with only 1/20 of the vitamin activity).
Preservatives, antioxidants and stabilisers all play a role by keeping food in good condition until they are eaten. This reduces waste. We the consumers have partly to lay blame for the additives, we are fussy things, we want food to come from far and wide, we want food to be safe for consumption without getting sick, we want the ingredients evenly distributed, we want creamy mouth feel foods, we want our food to be an appealing color, we want ice cream ready to scoop from the freezer, we want food all year round, we want our food to stay crisp etc etc… in other words we want many things, and they delivered.
Humans have always found ways to preserve their food to stop it spoiling before it can be eaten. Many of the bacteria and moulds that grow on food can be dangerous. Salmonella, listeria and botulism are familiar forms of food poisoning caused by bacteria.
How is the safety of food additives evaluated?
EFSA assesses the safety of the food additives. The substances are evaluated based on a dossier, usually provided by an applicant (normally the producer or a potential user of the food additive). This dossier must contain the chemical identifications of the additive, its manufacturing process, methods of analyses and reaction and fate in food, the case of need, the proposed uses and toxicological data.
The toxicological data must contain information on metabolism, sub-chronic and chronic toxicity, carcinogenicity; genotoxicity, reproduction and developmental toxicity and, if required, other studies.
Based on this data, EFSA determines the level below which the intake of the substance can be considered safe – the so-called Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI). At the same time, EFSA also estimates, based on the proposed uses in the different foodstuffs requested, whether this ADI can be exceeded.
In case the ADI will not be exceeded, the use of the food additive is considered safe.
What are the conditions to authorise food additives?
Thanks to strict regulation and thorough testing, food additives are safe elements of our diet. Importantly, clear labelling adds to consumers' ability to make informed choices about the food and beverages they eat and drink.
Bottom line is;
Many of us avoid additives because sometimes (not always) it’s a food that is almost not really a food anymore and it’s of little nutritional benefit. If there are additives in there, what is the purpose? As in what does this additive do? They have all been deemed as safe as stated above, very strict guidelines have to be met. (Aside from a minority group of people that make react to certain additives)
If something really does what all the alarming website/health bloggers tells you, how is it that the companies are not being sued, complaints, people getting sick, then no one would buy the product, not good for the company. It is in their best interest to make sure they use additives that are proven to be safe at the doses that are used in each specific product.
You do not need to worry about additives at all if you stick to fresh foods, generally this is meat, veg, fruit, nuts/seeds, eggs etc.