It seems that it is virtually impossible to buy a product these days without some sort of food preservative among the vitamins and nutrients. Eye-catching colors, (green ice-cream?!) which seem to almost glow in the dark and preservatives that make the products last until next year! But with the introduction of organic foods, there is now a choice from many of the products today, not that preservatives are dangerous or very bad, but they do call for some thought. It is important - vital - to know what you eat. No one needs to tell you that your health is your life!
Food additives are present in a large number and variety of foods these days. Food additives are either natural or synthetic compounds that :
1 ) help preserve food longer,
2 ) change the color to make the product look more appealing,
3 ) add flavor,
4 ) add texture,
5 ) and add nutrients to food.
A lot of food preservatives are added to food of which many people are unaware. Some people can get skin rashes or develop 'troubles' to the heart by consuming certain food additives. Some food additives are illegal in some countries. This is part of the reason why some people switch to organic foods where few or no additives or pesticides are used. Pesticides can raise a few people's eyebrows because some fruits or vegetables tend to seem 'too perfect', that is, big and red and as long lasting as possible. The introduction of organic foods has helped people choices between foods with or without additives or pesticides.
Not all food additives are necessarily 'bad'. Some have been used for thousands of years to help preserve fish, bacon, and fruit jams etc. Salt has been used to preserve ham, and sugar has helped preserve jelly and fruit preserves.
The number of food additives today can be quite shocking to some people. In 1995 an estimated 2,500 food additives were used in foods throughout the world!
A great number of products lose their nutritional value while going through processing. Vitamins are added to milk (Vitamin D), orange juice (Vitamin C), and margarine (Vitamin A), to name just a few. There are currently more than 1,750 flavorings added to food! Agar and gelatin are widely used additives. Gelatin is used in making jams, ice-cream, marshmallows etc. Agar is used as a solidifying agent and is found in candies, creams, and frozen desserts, as well as in winemaking.
Here are a list of many widely used artificial colors, and additives, published by hospitals as a result of information from the Villejuifer Hospital Research Center, France, to make consumers aware of the effects of such additives. Some of the additives may give you a real shock!
Pesticides, although not food additives, can help the production of crops but have their drawbacks. A few of you might remember the chemical dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (phew!) or DDT. Used to combat many diseases and illnesses. It was eventually banned for many reasons, one of them being that it drastically disrupted the food web . (DDT is not banned in all countries but strictly controlled.)
Ethylene dib.romide, EDB was eventually discovered to be highly carcinogenic in laboratory animals among many other serious problems. It was not until 44 years later that EDB was finally banned!
Some natural practices are used, such as predators that kill the Japanese beetles, (Popillia japonica) to prevent damage to crops. Wasps are also introduced to kill off fruit-boring insect larvae.
"Pesticides," "Food additives", Microsoft (R) Encarta. Copyright (c) 1994 Microsoft Corporation. Copyright (c) 1994 Funk & Wagnall's Corporation.