FOOD ADDITIVES AND PRESERVATIVES.txt
FOOD ADDITIVES AND PRESERVATIVES
What are food additives?
Anything that doesn't occur naturally in a particular food is
considered an additive. Many of these substances occur naturally in
one food but become additives when used in the manufacture of
another food. You might find sodium propionate in the list of
ingredients in a loaf of bread, but if you buy Swiss cheese, you'll
be eating 10 times as much sodium propionate but it won't be on the
label -- because it is a "natural" component of the cheese.
Why are additives put in food?
They have a variety of functions. Additives are used to replace
nutrients lost in processing (for example, all white flour must have
thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and folate put in to replace what is
lost when the wheat germ is removed), or to add nutrients (i.e.,
vitamins in breakfast cereals). Some additives retard spoilage, such
as BHA and BHT, antioxidants that keep fat from turning rancid.
Others are used to improve texture or consistency by making the
product thicker, smoother, or more free-flowing, or to keep
ingredients from separating. Flavorings and colorings are considered
additives, whether they are the relatively benign spices, salt and
pepper, or the ominous-sounding "artificial flavors", dyes and
Should I try to avoid additives?
Not unless you have identified a specific allergy or sensitivity.
Many people believe they are sensitive to MSG, and you can avoid it
if you wish. Most additives are used in such small amounts that they
have no significance in your diet unless you consume huge quantities
of a single food. You should be more concerned about what's taken
out of your food than what's added in. "Enriched" means vitamins,
minerals, other nutrients and fiber have been removed, and what's
added back may be only a small part of what was taken away. When
fiber is removed, you are the loser. Extracted oils give you lots of
calories and little of the nutrients that were in the original
plants. When you eat mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains and
beans, you don't give food processors the chance to remove the good
stuff nature provides.