|The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains a list of over 3,000 chemical additives currently used in food processing. It is important to understand that many additives are not only harmless, but are also necessary to ensure a healthy food supply. However, it is alarming that many of the approved chemical additives have never been properly tested. Additionally, there are many other chemical additives that have been tested, and as a result have usage restrictions placed on them by the FDA.
According to the FDA, a restricted additive is not considered harmful if used in approved quantities. But approved quantities are based on single servings, with the possible cumulative effects of these additives being ignored. Considering that the consumption of processed and chemically-altered foods represent a significant amount of what the average American eats, the compounding use of these restricted and untested additives is a very real threat to our overall health. A growing concern as a result of this increased consumption, in part, is ever increasing cases of food-related illnesses such as, diabetes, obesity, fibromyalgia, IBS, Crohn's, depression, hyperactivity, and ADHD, to name just a few. Fortunately, the potentially devastating negative impact on our health through the accumulation and combinations of certain chemical additives has been recognized, and research is being conducted to better understand their total effects.
A study conducted by the University of Liverpool (06/06), led by Professor Vyvyan Howard, suggests that combining additives can have a synergistic effect. In a laboratory setting, they examined the effect of two additive combinations on nerve cells. The first combination was made up of brilliant blue (E133 - a coloring found in soft drinks, confectionaries, desserts and ices) and monosodium glutamate/MSG (E261 - a flavor enhancer found in many ready-made meals). The second combination included quinoline yellow (E104 - a coloring found in smoked haddock and confectionaries) and aspartame (E951 - an artificial sweetener found in diet drinks, confectioneries, desserts and medicines). In both cases, when nerve cells were exposed to the combination of additives, the additives appeared to impair the cells' growth and interfere with their ability to signal each other, an essential element necessary for proper brain function.
In both studies, the additives were combined in concentrations that, theoretically, reflected the amount that would enter the bloodstream of a child after eating a typical snack or drink. These findings suggest that both combinations of additives are up to four times more harmful when combined than when tested individually. The conclusions support what many health professionals working with hyperactive children have long claimed, that many behavioral disorders can be triggered and made worse by certain non-nutritional food additives.
It is for this reason that LABELWATCH has chosen to take a very conservative stance regarding questionable food ingredients and additives. Until more solid research is conducted on untested additives and the effects of combined additives, we will err on the side of caution to ensure our users are buying the safest products available.