Not Halloween but We're Still Eating Scary Food Additives

Janice Holland's picture

Adults spend an inordinate amount of time instructing children what to and not to put in their mouths even as they continue to feed their families foods with additives that have been linked to serious health issues.

Unfortunately, consumers have no way of knowing about these health concerns unless they have the time and desire to research each ingredient for every food they eat or just happen to catch a blip on the media regarding something that may be potentially harmful. As a result, they unwittingly digest additives such as beaver anal gland juice, carcinogens or paint chemicals which are not listed on the back panels of food packaging.

A calorie-free artificial sweetener, acesulfame potassium, 200 times sweeter than sugar, is often used in combination with other artificial sweeteners to mask a bitter aftertaste. It is contained in 5,000+ food products worldwide, including diet sodas and no-sugar-added ice cream. Although approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in most foods, many health and food industry insiders claimed the approval was based on flawed tests. The chemical has been linked, through animal studies, to lung and breast tumors and thyroid problems.

A near-zero calorie artificial sweetener commonly used in diet drinks is aspartame. It is made by combining two amino acids with methanol and is 180 times sweeter than sugar. It is included in more than 6,000 grocery items including yogurts and the table-top sweeteners NutraSweet and Equal. Even though the FDA has received thousands of consumer complaints over the past 30 years regarding neurological symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, memory loss, and, in rare cases, epileptic seizures, many studies have shown aspartame to be completely harmless. It should be noted, however, that some studies indicate the additive may be the cause for a range of cancers.

Beer, crackers, cereals, butter and foods with added fats contain a petroleum-derived antioxidant, Butylated HydroxyAnisole (BHA), used to preserve fats and oils. The Department of Health and Human Services classifies the preservative as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen”.

Vanilla or raspberry flavoring in processed foods include castoreum. Labeled only as natural flavoring, castoreum is actually beaver anal gland juice. Beavers use it with their urine to mark their territory.

The active ingredient in the popular weed killer Roundup, glyphosate, is used on corn and soy crops genetically engineered to withstand a heavy dousing of the chemical. It is absorbed by the plant, thus transferred to us when we eat it because it is a systemic herbicide. It is found in most nonorganic packaged foods containing corn- and soy-derived ingredients. Glyphosate exposure has been linked to infertility, learning disabilities and obesity.

Red dye #3 (Erythrosine) and red dye #40 (Allura red) are the orange-red and cherry-red food dyes, respectively. Red dye #40 is the most widely used food dye in the United States. These dyes are included in beverages, candy, cereal, chocolate cake, fruit cocktail, fruit snacks, maraschino cherries and pastries. In the past, the FDA tried to have red dye #3 banned but has been unsuccessful in that implementation. After that dye was linked to thyroid tumors in rat studies, the FDA managed to have the liquid form of the dye removed from external drugs and cosmetics.

Titanium dioxide is a component of the metallic element titanium commonly used in paints and sunscreens. It is added to hundreds of food products to make overly processed items appear whiter. Titanium is a mined substance that is sometimes contaminated with toxic lead.

Yellow dye #5 (Tartrazine) and yellow dye #6 (sunset yellow) are the #2 and #3 most common food colorings, respectively. They are found in beverages, bread mixes, cereal, chips, condiments, cookies and puddings. Several studies have linked both dyes to learning and concentration disorders in children. Additionally, there are lots of animal studies demonstrating potential risks of kidney and intestinal tumors.