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Expert warns of additives: If this is written on the package, better hands off!

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Kuldeep Singh
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Most of us aren’t aware of the chemicals in our food. Yet additive-laced processed foods have become more American than apple pie.

Ready-made soup, mixed beer drink, barbecue sauce – these products can be found in almost every kitchen.

A recent study estimates that highly processed foods make up nearly 60% of the American diet.

And they have one thing in common: E-numbers are on the list of ingredients.

A consumer protection expert says which numbers are used to hide additives that are harmful to health.

The list of ingredients for many foods is long. This is especially true for finished products. However, some names and terms on the list are difficult for consumers to understand. We asked a consumer protection expert when to be careful.

Azo dyes are suspected of being cancerous

Azo dyes are organic compounds that bear a pair of nitrogen atoms bonded to each other. The family of azo dyes has more than 2,000 kinds of dyes. Currently, around 60%-70% of dyes used for industrial purposes belong to the family of azo dyes.

Due to the economical efficiency and usability of the azo dyes, they are widely used in the textile industry to give vibrant colors to materials such as cotton, silk, wool, leather, and other fibers. Furthermore, azo dyes are also used in paints, plastic, and rubber.

Around 4-5% of azo dyes can cleave to form aromatic amines, which contain a large number of chemical substances or compounds that are defined as carcinogens by different scientific institutes.

The exposure to azo dyes that can cleave to aromatic amines can cause diseases like bladder cancers, liver cancers, and hematuria.

In the United States, there are no specific regulations that explicitly restrict “azo dyes”. Instead, various aromatic amines that cleaved from azo dyes are restricted or banned.

Therefore, we can still conclude that certain types of azo dyes are banned or restricted in the United States, giving the fact that aromatic amines are restricted.

Colorants that the doctor advises against are E102, E110, E122, E123, E124a, E127, E129, E142, and E155.

Preservatives are hidden behind E numbers with the two in front. the consumer protection activist rates the substances E284 (boric acid) and E285 (sodium tetraborate, boric acid) as negative.

If you are not sure which additives to avoid and which are uncritical when shopping on a daily basis, you can find out more on the FDA website.

What does the E mean?

Antioxidants and acidulants are also hidden behind E numbers (all E numbers with a three in front). In this category, the expert only gives a particularly bad rating once, namely for the additive E385. 

The problem with this additive is that it can bind minerals, that is, calcium, magnesium, which is important for our body.

These substances would then no longer be available for our body.

All E numbers with a four at the beginning stand for thickeners and Humectants. In this category, E425 (konjac) is rated particularly critically by the specialist, as it prevents the absorption of important nutrients.

Among the acidulants (E numbers with a five in front), the expert advises against E512 in particular, as it can lead to a metallic aftertaste, nausea, and vomiting in high concentrations. 

E numbers with a nine in front belong to the category of sweeteners. According to the doctor, you should be careful with E999, a foam concentrate made from the soap bark tree or the Quillaja tree. 

Also E1520, a solvent and preservative, a low rating of the Consumer.

Image Credit: Getty

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