Food Additives harmful effects, danger
August 17 2015 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Food additives are substances added to food to preserve flavor or improve its taste and appearance. Some are natural, others synthetic. There is a concern that some of the synthetic food additives may be causing untoward health effects, particularly in children. Some research suggests that certain food additives may increase the tendency for ADHD.

Danger and toxicity
Sometimes an individual food additive alone may not cause much harm, but since many people, especially children, are exposed to so many on a daily basis that it can begin to cause damage to the brain and body.

Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2014 Feb 17. Cognitive and biochemical effects of monosodium glutamate and aspartame, administered individually and in combination in male albino mice. The present study was designed to investigate in vivo effects of monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame (ASM) individually and in combination on the cognitive behaviour and biochemical parameters like neurotransmitters and oxidative stress indices in brain tissue. Forty male Swiss albino mice were randomly divided into four groups of ten each and were exposed to MSG and ASM through drinking water for one month. Group I was the control and was given normal tap water. Group II and III received MSG (8mg/kg) and ASM (32mg/kg) respectively dissolved in tap water. Group IV received MSG and ASM together in the same doses. After the exposure period, the animals were subjected to cognitive behavioural tests in shuttle box and water maze. Thereafter, the animals were sacrificed and the neurotransmitters and oxidative stress indices were estimated in their forebrain tissue. Both MSG and ASM individually as well as in combination had significant disruptive effects on the cognitive responses, memory retention and learning capabilities of the mice in the order (MSG+ASM)>ASM>MSG. Furthermore, while MSG and ASM, individually were unable to alter the brain neurotransmitters and the oxidative stress indices, their combination dose (MSG+ASM) decreased significantly the levels of neurotransmitters (dopamine and serotonin) and also it caused oxidative stress by increasing the lipid peroxides measured in the form of thiobarbituric acid (TBARS) and decreasing the level of total glutathione (GSH). Further studies are required to evaluate the synergistic effects of MSG and ASM on the neurotransmitters and oxidative stress indices and their involvement in cognitive dysfunctions.

All of the notices U.S. regulators received to vouch for the safety of common food additives between 1997 and 2012 were submitted by people who had a vested interest in the outcome of those assessments. All of the 451 notifications voluntarily submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during that time were made by people who had relationships with manufacturers of food additives, which include salt, trans fats and artificial flavors and sweeteners. JAMA Internal Medicine, online August 7, 2013.

Traditional food additives
Many food additives have been known for hundreds or thousands of years. For instance, preserving food by pickling (with vinegar), salting, as with bacon, preserving sweets or using sulfur dioxide as in some wines.

Food Additives
Sodium benzoate is found in Coca-Cola, Pepsi Max and Diet Pepsi, and in many fruit drinks.

Food colorings -- sunset yellow (E110), found in fruity drinks; carmoisine (E122), a red coloring often added to jams; ponceau 4R (E124), a red food coloring; tartrazine (E102), found in lollipops and carbonated drinks; quinoline yellow (E104), a food coloring; and allura red AC (E129), and orange-red food dye.

Ocean pollution
Mar Pollut Bull. 2015. Emerging contaminants (pharmaceuticals, personal care products, a food additive and pesticides) in waters of Sydney estuary, Australia. The current investigation of marine water from 30 sites adjacent to stormwater outlets across the entire Sydney estuary is the first such research in Australia. The number of analytes detected were: 8/59 pharmaceutical compounds (codeine, paracetamol, tramadol, venlafaxine, propranolol, fluoxetine, iopromide and carbamazepine), 7/38 of the pesticides (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), 3,4-dichloroaniline, carbaryl, diuron, 2-methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid (MCPA), mecoprop and simazine) and 0/3 of the personal care products (PCPs) analysed. An artificial sweetener (acesulfame) was detected, however none of the nine antibiotics analysed were identified. Sewage water is not discharged to this estuary, except infrequently as overflow during high-precipitation events. The presence of acesulfame (a recognised marker of domestic wastewater) and pharmaceuticals in water from all parts of the estuary after a dry period, suggests sewage water is leaking into the stormwater system in this catchment. The pesticides are applied to the environment and were discharged via stormwater to the estuary.