Food additives are frequently used in conventional foods to improve colour, taste, texture, smell and appearance. They’re also used to stabilise product processing and extend shelf-life.
But artificial additives, colours and preservatives may cause a range of health problems in children including allergic reactions, respiratory issues and behavioural problems.
More than 300 food additives are permitted for use in Australia in non-organic processed foods. Some of these additives are particular nasty and should be avoided, especially by kids.
Here’s a brief list of some to watch out for (with their food code number):
- Colours (tartrazine 102; quinoline yellow 104; sunset yellow 110; cochineal 120; carmoisine 122; ponceau 124; and allura red 129).
- Preservatives (benzoates 210-213; sulphur dioxide and all sulphites 220-228; all nitrates and nitrites 249-252).
- Flavour enhancers (MSG and glutamates 620-625).
It’s not always easy to read packaging labels and ingredient lists to work out what nasties are in the food you buy.
The easiest way to avoid the risks associated with artificial food additives is to simply avoid them. Buy fresh, unprocessed foods. And if you’re family budget can afford it, choose certified organic as much as possible. That way, you’re not just avoiding artificial additives but also synthetic pesticides, herbicides and other potentially harmful toxins.
If you do buy packaged or processed foods, look for those that are certified organic. Your health and your kids’ health will be better off.