Are Food Additives Really Safe?
“Food additives” is a term that most of us have grown hearing or reading it on food labels. However, many health and nutrition blogs have stigmatized their use, and people have been left in a maze not understanding whether or not these additives are safe for use or not. However, in a bid to help lift that cloud of uncertainty and shed some light on that issue, we will look at what exactly food additives are and why they are added to whatever we eat.
What are food additives?
An additive is a substance added to food and changed its composition. There are primarily two types of food additives used, and these are the indirect and direct additives. The indirect ones are those that become part of the food in trace amounts to make handling, storage and packaging easier. The direct additives, on the other hand, include components like salt and sugar that are added to the food for a very particular purpose like taste. These are, usually, indicated on the ingredients list of the food that they are incorporated in.
Why are additives added to food?
There are a variety of reasons as to why additives are so prevalent in the food we eat. Understanding their persistent presence can help unveil the truth and know if they are a blessing to our health or a demon that is trying it away.
The first and most important reason for including additives in the food is to improve its safety. They help to slow down the process of rotting that can be caused by fungi, yeast, bacteria or even the air itself. They also help to prevent fruits from turning brown when they are exposed to air after being cut.
Some of the additives like vitamins, fibers and minerals are added to increase the nutritional value of the food. In most cases, this is done to make up for the loss of nutrients lost during the processing of the food or for those that might be missing in the diet of the buyers.
Some of the lesser important reasons for the addition of additives is to improve the appearance, taste and the texture of the food. These include artificial sweeteners and artificial flavors which are added to improve the taste and respectively.
Are they really safe?
It is important to note that before an additive goes into any food, it has to be approved by the FDA, and the only way this can happen is if it passes a series of rigorous tests that are meant to validate its quality and safety.
While this might sound like it’s enough to put your worries to rest, there a number of additives that people should keep away from or should consider taking in moderate amounts. Those that should be taken moderately include sugar that can cause tooth decay and higher diabetes risk and salt which can cause high blood pressure. Here are some surprising articles from the Mayo Clinic about unhealthy food additives and what they cause.
Despite what is being said, the safety of additives lies in the amounts that you take. In any case, too much of anything is poisonous, and the same applies to this case as well.