It’s the stuff we don’t think about when we bite into those crunchy fries or gobble down a strawberry sundae.
It’s the stuff that makes food appear more colorful, last longer and makes it more appealing to the hungry families with little time and noisy children in the backseat.
I’m talking about additives. Additives are things like artificial food coloring and preservatives. You’ve seen the labels: Blue No.1 or Yellow No. 6…
Recently Business Insider published a piece about the pervasive problem of using food coloring in the American fast food industry.
Some companies, like McDonald’s, are serving additive-free foods in Europe. Rules and regulations for food production in the Europe Union are more demanding and strict about approving, overseeing and limiting—or eliminating—the use of additives.
Meanwhile in the US… we have the GRAS loophole— a law that allows food companies to deem an additive to be “generally recognized as safe” — without the FDA’s oversight or approval.
Also, it’s cheaper for food companies to use additives than using natural food dyes, plants, animals and minerals.
And what is so wrong with these chemicals if they make food look better?
Back in 2007 Lancet published a study on how additives resulted in increased hyperactivity 3-year-old and 8/9 year-old children in the general population.
In 2011 the Federal Drug Administration linked hyperactivity and food dyes with children already diagnosed with ADHD. The FDA found “no causal link could be established between children’s consumption of synthetic color additives and adverse behavioral effects including hyperactivity…”
Other studies have been done but on animals. Truth is we need more research to determine what happens to children and adults who commonly eat foods with additives.
There has been criticism and several calls for the FDA to be more stringent with regulating additives—including food coloring. The FDA has acknowledged more steps and better measure need to be taken.
In the meantime, know that some food additives may be safe but many haven’t been thoroughly studied to evaluate long-term health effects. The danger is that as consumers, we don’t know which ones are safe and which aren’t.
To be safe, go for the natural foods and avoid foods made with additives.
Or better yet…let’s start letting the food companies know that we don’t want additives. If they can make a strawberry spreads with real strawberries in Britain, why can’t they do that for us stateside?
For sure, Blue No.1 and Yellow No. 6 should only be used for art projects, not for putting in or on our bodies because they can mess with our health.