How To Avoid food additives & preservatives

How To Avoid food additives & preservatives

January 16, 2023

Processed and packaged foods are a convenient choice for today’s busy families, but they’re loaded with thousands of additives and preservatives to control color, flavor, aroma, nutrition, texture, and shelf life. (Thus, the impossible to pronounce ingredients lists!) Some are okay and some should be avoided, especially since they can have a disproportionately greater health impact on children compared to adults and have been linked to things like obesity and ADHD.

Limit your child’s intake of food additives by following these easy steps:

Identify what your child eats. Keep a food diary for a week, noting everything that is eaten – including at school. At the end of the week, you should have a good idea of your child’s exposure to food additives. Food additives are largely present in processed and packaged foods, candy, soda and other “junk” food, so if you limit those foods, you’ll cut down considerably.

Eat whole foods. Eating a balanced diet of fresh produce and whole grains will go a long way towards keeping additives and preservatives out of your child’s system. Whole foods are much healthier than processed and packaged. But, if you do buy processed foods, look for the organic options which have little or no added synthetic colors or preservatives.

Read Labels. According to pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene, be especially attentive to the top five risky additives:

1. Artificial Colors - anything that begins with FD&C (e.g. FD&C Blue No. 1)

2. Chemical Preservatives - Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA), Sodium Nitrate, Sodium

3. Artificial Sweeteners – Aspartame, Acesulfame-K, Saccharin

4. Added Sugar – High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), Corn Syrup, Dextrose, etc

5. Added Salt – Look at the sodium content and choose foods with the lowest amounts.
Additionally, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, some of following additives have been associated with negative health impacts:

    • Propyl Gallate
    • Sulfites (Sulfur Dioxide, Sodium Sulfite, Sodium And Potassium Bisulfite, Sodium and Potassium Metabisulfite)
    • Potassium Bromate
    • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
    • Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
    • Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
    • Potassium Bromate
    • Olestra (Olean)
    • Heptylparaben
    • Sodium Nitrite

If you have a question about any food ingredient, dietary supplement or cosmetic contact the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Nutrition, 888-SAFEFOOD.

6. Report Adverse Reactions. Alert your healthcare provider to any adverse reactions to find out if your child has special sensitivities or allergies. These reports are also often compiled for health agencies to monitor the safety of ingredients. If too many adverse impacts are reported, regulatory action may be necessary.