A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives
by Ruth Winter
Media Review of food additives by Denice Moffat
Imagine wanting to make cookies and not having the proper food additives to put in them so you send your child or husband to the store to pick up a few food additives for you. “Oh, honey, could you pick me up some reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, high fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, caramel color, propylene glycol mono and diesters of fats and fatty acids, soy lecithin, BHT, citric acid, modified corn starch (but we’re already using corn starch—what’s this?), maltodextrin, gum acacia and oh, add in some artificial flavor.” Who makes cookies like these? Well, you’re trying to make Grandma’s Homestyle Chocolate Brownie cookies of course!
I don’t ever remember getting any recipes from my grandmother containing food additive ingredients! Whose grandma is this anyhow? Here are a few other food additive ingredients that may surprise you. . . and after doing research on food additives, it’s no wonder that more of the population are not having food allergy problems! What are food additives doing to our world?
Weird things in foods: Food Additives
2,4-dinitro-6-octylphenyl Crotonate + 2,6 Dinitro-4-octyl phenyl crotonate is a food additive that’s used as an apple fungicide and in chemical warfare.
ADD and Anger problems? You may want to ferret out and eliminate food additives such as blue dyes listed as FD & C Blue No. 1, Brilliant blue No. 1, Aluminum Lake and FD & C Blue No. 2 dyes. These food additive dyes are used in bottled soft drinks, Kool-Aid, Gatorade, Bakery Products (blue frosting anyone?), cereals, candy (Skittles, hard candy, M&M’s and more) and in confections. Blue dye is a sensitizer to other allergens.
Allylmercaptan (listed as synthetic spice flavoring) is another food additive that’s poisonous by inhalation and ingestion, strong irritant to the skin and mucous membranes and a fire hazard but found in beverages, ice cream, ices, candy, baked goods and meats.
Alzheimer’s or memory problems? What about reproductive problems? Eliminate aluminum is a food additive that’s in a host of items. Aluminum is listed on the ingredient list as Aluminum ammonium, Aluminum ammonium sulfate, aluminum calcium silicate (in vanilla powder and in table salt at a 2% volume), aluminum hydroxide, aluminum nicotinate (as niacin), Aluminum oleate (lacquer for metals and waterproofing sprays are food additives and used as a leavening agents in baked goods, antiperspirants, dentifrices, toothpaste, styptic pencils, cosmetics, gastric antacids, gelling agents, anticaking agents, binders, emulsifiers, stabilizers, thickeners for petroleum jelly) and Aluminum phosphide, another food additive, which is used in fumigation of corn grits, brewer’s malt and in brewer’s rice. Fuller’s Earth (Aluminum magnesium silicate) is in dry shampoo, hair coloring, beauty masks, dusting powders, lubricants and in soaps. Aluminum Potassium Sulfate is a food additive used for clarifying sugar, sweet and dill pickles, cereals, flours, bleached flours, cheese (looked at the label on American cheese lately?). Aluminum Sterates are used in waterproofing fabrics, food additives in chewing gum, lubricating oils, de-foaming agents in the processing of beet sugar and in yeast. Aluminum Sulfate (aka Alum) is a food additive used in packaged potatoes, pickle relish, shrimp, antiseptics, and also used in deodorants, skin fresheners, antiperspirants and in water purifiers. Alum may cause allergic reactions such as pimples in the underarms from using deodorant.
Ammonia and Urea are food additives added to tobacco to increase the free-base (addictive) component in cigarettes. The brands highest in free-base nicotine are Winston, Camel, American Spirit, Marlboro and Gauloises Blondes. Reference: http://www.rense.com/general39/tobacc.htm and the list of the 599 additives added to cigarettes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_additives_in_cigarettes
Antifreeze- a food additive used as a stabilizer in ice cream.
Arsenic is a food additive that’s used as a growth promotant. It can cause birth defects in people but the FDA approves 0.5ppm in muscle tissue and 2ppm in the liver. People who eat too much kelp tend to have higher levels of arsenic in them so limit your Nori Wrapper consumption to 4/week to be safe. If you are using sea vegetables to control your thyroid problems also cut back on goitrogenic foods so that you won’t need as many sea veggies.
Asparagus: Do you have petrochemical allergies? If you do, you may want to minimize Asparagus consumption. Asparagus breaks down and produces gas in the large intestine releasing Methanethiol (methyl mercapten—oh man, does that stink!) which is a fungicide and pesticide produced by the roots of the plant. This particular chemical is also present in coal-tar, “sour” gas in Texas and in petroleum.
Benzyl Ethyl Ether is used in food additive used in flavoring beverages, ice cream, ices, candy and baked goods. Benzyl Ethyl Ether stresses the liver, is a skin irritant and a narcotic in high concentrations.
Bleach (Nattypochlorite) is used to wash cottage cheese curds with. Now, where do the leftovers from this process go? To make whey? No wonder so many people are allergic to whey. Actually, the industry first used whey as pig food to try to get rid of it. Now, whey is added to lots of things and you can purchase it as a protein powder for your smoothies!
Bleached wheat is made white with Acetyl Benzoil Peroxide (which may be good for acne as a germicide and disinfectant but why are we eating it?) It’s also a food additive in blue cheese, gorgonzola and milk. Did you know they also use Benzoyl peroxide to harden certain fiberglass resins? It’s also in some cosmetics. It’s toxic to inhale and a skin irritant.
Caramel is used as a brown coloring in many foods, but did you know it may block absorption of Vitamin B6?
Carnauba wax: is made from the wax palm tree and is used as a food additive in candy glaze in addition to polish and in varnishes. It is a texturizer for makeup, depilatories and deodorant sticks.
Chewing gum contains a bunch of stuff we shouldn’t ingest. The gum base contains Polyethylene as a food additive, a product of gas or dehydration of alcohol (a thermoplastic actually) and most gums these days also contain Splenda.
Coatings on citrus, squash, grapes, sweet potatoes, asparagus, melons, papayas, plantains, turnips, watermelon and nuts may expose you to coal tar derivatives, antibiotics, ethoxyquin, natamycin, and lots of resins.
Cochineal (Carmine) is a food additive of red dye made of ground up insects (cochineal). This food additive is added to red applesauce, confections, baked goods, meats, spices, mascara, rouge, eye shadows, candy, yogurt and fruit drinks. The insect may be a carrier of salmonellosis. Did you know that it takes over 7000 bugs to make one pound of this dye?
Coal Tar Derivatives: Lots of foods have these food additives in them. Beware of Phenethyl (a phenol derivative made of coal tar) if you have petrochemical allergies.
Creosol (4-methoxy-2-methyl phenol) is a synthetic food additive flavoring agent occurring naturally in Cassia (cinnamon) and used in fruit, rum, nut and clove flavorings for beverages, ice cream, candy, baked goods and liquors.
Decaf coffee anyone? It contains methane dichloride and methylene chloride if it’s not water-processed. Methylene chloride converts to carbon monoxide in the human body thus blocking the oxygen carrying capacity of the hemoglobin molecule. Methylene chloride is also used in nail polishes. Nail fungus anyone? It damages the liver, kidneys and CNS and is responsible for headaches, insomnia, nervousness and tremors.
Formaldyhyde/Paraformaldehyes are food additives in Nutrasweet, used as de-foaming agents, in animal feeds and embalming agents, germicides, fungicides, preservative. It is also a food additive in Grana Padano cheese and is used as an antifungal agent to put on the tap holes of maple trees after the syrup has been collected.
Formic acid (aka Eugenyl formate) (a key component to scorpion stings) is a food additive used as a synthetic spice flavoring for beverages, ice creams, ices and candy. Formic acid is highly corrosive and naturally occurs in apples and other fruit. It’s the reason why so many people are allergic to Hazelnuts, Walnuts and Pecans (these nuts are higher in formic acid than other nuts). Formic acid is used for de-hairing hides, as a preservative for silage (which should not be fed within 4 weeks of slaughtering.) Chronic exposure to Formic Acid causes albuminuria (protein or foam in the urine.)
Guanidoethylcellulose (Guaicic Wood Oil) is a food additive used as a tobacco flavoring, in berry, honey, coffee and smoke flavorings, in beverages, ice cream, ices, baked goods, candy and toppings.
Hickory Smoke Condensate is a popular food additive flavoring thought to cause pancreatic tumors.
Hormones found in meat: If you know anything about farming you wonder how they can sell meat for such cheap prices when your local farmer is selling theirs for about 3 times the price. Well, these animals are fed lots of cheap genetically modified grains and their diets are fortified with hormones and food additives to keep them growing fast. DES (the hormone that caused all those birth defects in the 60s) is still being found in meat along with estradiol, mibolerone, testosterone propionate, trenbolone and a bunch of others. These hormones are injected into the animals via growth implants or put into their feed. Melengestrol acetate is a progesterone used to treat animals and suppress ovulation. It’s added to animal feeds so regulate the flock so that all the babies will be born approximately the same time. Methylprednisone is found in milk. Other hormones used in the meat industry are Corlutin, Cyclogest, Luteal hormone, rBST (Recombinant Bovine Somatotrophin or IGF-1), Synovex, Gesterol 50 and Progestaject.
Hydrogen cyanide. Cyanide? Really? Well, yes. The FDA tolerates up to 200 ppm in cocoa. Ahh, this gives a new meaning to the phrase “Death by chocolate” no? How does it get into the chocolate? Well, the compressed gas is used for exterminating rodents and insects that like the cocoa beans. Hydrogen cyanide is also an acceptable food additive in cereal flours, cereals, ham/bacon/sausage, and it’s OK to use in mastitis medications (which eventually get into our milk supply.) Signs of overdose include shortness of breath, paralysis, unconsciousness, convulsions, respiratory arrest, weakness and fatigue. The average fatal dose is 50-60mg.
Insect repellents with DL-n-Butyl Phthalate is an estrogen disrupter. Your best bet is to use something organic like Buzz Away (an essential oil spray you can purchase at the health food store which is quite effective.)
Isopropyl alcohol. A fatal dose of isopropyl alcohol is less than one ounce. Isopropyl alcohol is used as an antibacterial, solvent, denaturant, solvent for spice oleoresins, a food additive in modified hop extract (used for making beer), a food additive in lemon oil and it’s used as a de-foaming agent for processing beet sugar and in yeast. It’s in all the Purell type hand products you use every day to keep the germs away.
Lacquer, that shiny covering on some chocolates and candies (like those little red sour balls you can get two packages for a dollar in your gas station convenience store). Well, this piles up in your vessels making arteriosclerosis!
Latex: This is a very dangerous allergy and it’s on the increase. Latex, as a food additive, is found in chewing gum, along with beauty masks, balloons, condoms, gloves, synthetic rubber or plastics, racquet ball handles, dental devices and more. The FDA has reported over 50 life-threatening allergic reactions from the use of latex gloves. I have several clients with a stash of Latex glove detox drops on hand. Nurses are one profession that seem more at risk for this allergy.
Maleic Hydrazide is used in the tobacco industry to regulate unwanted sucker growth on 90% of the tobacco crops in the United States. It’s also used on potatoes and onions post-harvest to prevent sprouting. Symptoms of exposure include CNS and liver damage. This chemical is highly toxic.
Maple nut flavoring as a food additive is made in part from insecticides.
Methanol (aka Wood alcohol or Wood Spirit). Beer contains trace amounts of the food additive, methanol. This alcohol solvent, which is used as a food additive, is obtained by the destructive distillation of wood with a nauseating odor. It’s used for antifreeze compounds, paints, inks, varnishes, shellacs, wood strippers, windshield wiper solvent, gas antifreeze, radiators, dye solvents, Sterno fuel, home heating oil extenders, octane boosters in gasoline, fuel for soldering torches, softening agents for plastics, to extract hops and spices and in the making of formaldehyde. Methanol is highly toxic and readily absorbed through all routes of exposure. The narcotic properties severely affect the nervous system. It is a dangerous fire hazard. A ventilation system is a must when working with any of these products. Symptoms of methanol exposure include headache, dizziness, confusion, abdominal pain, lung problems, weakness, coma, blindness, death and blurred vision (gee, this sounds like the high painters get when they are in the spray booth too long without their respirators on.)
Methyl salicylate (Salicylic Acid or Oil of Wintergreen). These items should only be used for spot areas. The concentrated stuff is really toxic.
Methylcellulose (wood pulp) is a food additive found in canned fruits sweetened with artificial sweeteners, Kosher foods, low-calorie crackers (they have to keep that fiber in the crackers somehow), as a beer foam stabilizer, in dietetic products, processed cheese and toppings. Large doses of this food additive may cause flatulence—well, no wonder! We don’t have the same gut flora as a porcupine! Methylcellulose as a food additive may bind up certain minerals in our bodies making them unavailable as well.
Mineral Oil clogs up the small intestine so it can’t absorb properly. It’s a food additive added to bread, de-foaming agents in the sugar beet sugar industry, yeast, used as a coating on fresh fruit and vegetables (remember those slippery tomatoes and cucumbers?), is a lubricant and binder for capsules and tablet making, as a lubricant in the meat packing facilities, as a confectionery sealant, in baby lotions and creams and in cosmetics. Mineral oil food additives clog pores on the skin causing blackheads.
Modified Food Starch: Is this food additive still in baby foods? In 1980 this was on the FDA top priority list for reevaluation but in 1999 nothing had changed. It was questioned whether babies could handle the chemicals that adults are exposed to since several chemicals are used to modify the starch.
Non-dairy whipped cream, creamers, chocolate coatings, ice cream, frozen custard, shortening and some vitamin and mineral supplements contain the food additives Polysorbate 60 and polysorbate 80 which is associated with 1,4 Dioxane—a known carcinogen.
Paint thinner- a food additive in banana flavoring of ice cream.
PCB’s are difficult to stay away from as they are off-gassing from food wraps and plastics. NEVER microwave plastic. PCB’s also disrupt thyroid hormones, decrease intellectual development, are responsible in part for ADD, language disorders and behavioral memory learning disorders.
Petrolatum (Vaseline) is a food additive used in candies and as a de-foaming agent in the yeast and beet sugar industry, in baked goods and in confectionary items.
Phosphoric Acid is a food additive in flavoring agents. This chemical is found in skin fresheners, nail polish, canned milk, soda pop, jellies, frozen dairy products, baked goods, candy, cheese and is used in the brewing industry. Excess phosphoric acid causes kidney disease and kidney stones.
Pizza crust contains ethyl alcohol as a food additive.
Propionic Acid is a by-product of the wood pulp industry. This food additive is a waste liquor with a pungent rancid odor used to inhibit mold on butter, fruit, cakes, candy, ice cream, cheese, perfumes and cosmetics.
Propyl Acetate is derived from propane or acetate; it is used as a food additive in synthetic flavorings for fruit beverages, ice cream, candy, baked goods and for perfumes. It is also used as a solvent for resins. It may be irritating to the mucous membrane and narcotic in high doses.
Propylproionate is a food additive used to flavor liquors. Lower doses than what is allowed in these flavored liquors has caused birth defects in experimental animals. BUT, propylproionate is also added to frosting, nut products and is in 97% of all seasonings and flavorings.
Remember Melamine dishes? Unbreakable. Well, melamine was used as an experimental cancer-causing and tumor causing agent. It is moderately toxic by ingestion. I’d recommend against microwaving and eating from these dishes.
Snail Bait (Metaldyhyde) can be found on strawberries. Snails love strawberries so make sure these are organic! Scientists are also playing with ground up shrimp shell spray to help extend the shelf life of strawberries. Plus strawberries have extra histamines in them which cause headaches. Anyway, signs of metaldyhyde poisoning include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, convulsions and coma.
Table salt contains ammonia, hydrocyanic acid and prussiate of soda used as an anticaking agent. The food additive, hydrocyanic acid, is toxic if you inhale, ingest or absorb it through your skin (another plug for the use of Celtic Sea salt which is a much healthier option.)
Talc (French chalk aka Magnesium silicate) is a food additive added to vitamin supplements as a flavoring agent (now why do we need flavor when the supplements are encapsulated? Prolonged inhalation of talc leads to lung cancer and acts like asbestos. In Japan there is an increased incidence of stomach cancer because they like rice treated with talc.
Tartaric Acid, also known as Cream of Tartar, Sodium Tartrate, Sodium Potassium Tartrate, and Azo dye, are also related. These chemicals are used as food additives in over 450 foods, including baking soda. Tartaric acid is made of Tamarind (an AVOID food for blood type O people) and also occurs naturally in wine, grapes and bananas. Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tartaric_acid
Vanilla flavoring, a common allergen I see in my practice, is actually p-cresol, a food additive of synthetic nut and vanilla flavoring agent obtained from coal-tar. It naturally occurs in teas and is used in beverages, ice creams, ices, candy and baked goods. This food additive is more powerful than phenol (also derived from coal tar) but less toxic. Those people who have petrochemical allergies would be more allergic to this flavoring. Symptoms of petrochemical allergies abound and include getting the munchies while in a vehicle, falling asleep in the car and feeling nauseous with the smell of diesel (there is a homeopathic remedy to clean up this allergy by the way.)
Walnut flavoring is actually trichoral hydrate used in the hide tanning industry
Wood Pulp (Methyl Ethyl Cellulose) or Cotton Chemical Extraction: These food additives are used in bulk laxatives and vegetable fat whipped toppings, fruit pie fillings, meat patties, thickeners, baked goods, in the making of decaf coffee, as a degreaser and paint stripper solvent and in varnish thinner. These chemicals convert to carbon dioxide which causes the heart to pump faster causing coronary spasms and angina.
In summary? After going through 450 pages of information I can see that artificially flavored things are definitely out and highly suspect—especially artificially flavored fruit items. Most of the candy our kids eat are crammed with these food additives—actually more than a few chemicals (as food additives) for each type of candy!
To make matters worse, sometimes the United States makes herbicides/pesticides and fungicides that are illegal to use in our country and then we ship them to other countries to use. The produce is then shipped back to us to eat as food additives. So everybody in the process gets exposed to the toxic chemicals. How rude!
I’d stay away from anything pre-packaged—especially baked goods, beverages and anything where you don’t understand the ingredients and food additives listed on the package. Your best bet is to eat local and know your farmer. Ask lots of questions on what kind of chemicals they use and even where they farm. Are they farming next to a road? A chemical plant? In soil that has been contaminated with heavy metals?
Helpful Links and References on Food Additives:
- Book: A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives by Ruth Winter, M.S.
- Book: The Allergy Guide to Brand-Name Foods and Food Additives by Stephanie Bernardo Johns
- Book: Food Chemical Sensitivities by Robert Buist PhD. (This book has a wonderful chart on which drugs are excreted through breast milk and how to arrange timing of feeding.)
- Food Additives: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_additive
- Food Allergies and Reducing the Risk: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm089307.htm
- What are Food Additive E Numbers?: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E_number
- FDA’s Website page on Food Additives: http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodIngredientsPackaging/FoodAdditives/default.htm
- Most common food additives: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002435.htm
- Top 12 food additives to avoid: http://www.sixwise.com/newsletters/06/04/05/12-dangerous-food-additives-the-dirty-dozen-food-additives-you-really-need-to-be-aware-of.htm
- Banned Food Additives: http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm#banned_additives