Various chemicals in the name of preservatives are added to packaged foods to save them from spoilage and hence extend their shelf life. Most of the times it is even hard to pronounce such chemicals, let alone know about their effect on our health.
All of us have popped few chips or cookies inside our mouth without paying heed to what exactly we are feeding our bodies. It’s the story of almost everyone in modern times.
However, most of us would not know the exact chemicals that are added to the packaged food and their long-lasting harmful effect on the functioning of our body and mind. We need to wake up to it or it will be too late. The Great Indian Noodle Scam attests to the fact that all is not right with the packaged food.
Some things that often go unnoticed
- As per FDA guidelines, these chemical preservatives need to be listed on the product ingredient list only when they are added above certain quantities. So, there will be cases when you wouldn’t even find them on the product label.
- Additionally, if you consume packaged foods multiple times during a day/week, the cumulative consumption of these chemical preservatives will be much higher than tolerable limits. This leads to the onset of multiple health conditions in the long-term.
- What else? More often than not, these chemical preservatives are also listed per their regulatory names such as E211 for Sodium Benzoate. Hence, until unless you are aware of these technicalities, you may end up consuming products with such chemicals inside despite being super alert!
Introduction to chemical preservatives and their impact on health
Let us take a closer look at the impending danger.
Sodium Benzoate: It stops the fermentation and acidification of sodas and fruit juices. Sodium benzoate when combined with vitamin C or ascorbic acid present in fruit juices, it produces benzene which is a potential carcinogen.
Sulfites: It is used to prevent the browning and discolouration of food. It can cause asthma and allergy.
Benzoic acid: It has been shown to starve mitochondria cells of oxygen, causing serious damage to DNA. It’s been linked to hypertension, asthma attacks, kidney disease, and stroke.
Sodium Nitrite: It is found in processed meats, sausage, and salami and gives them the red color. The American Cancer Society has recommended consuming less of such processed meat because nitrites can cause chemical reactions in the body to produce nitrosamines which cause cancer.
Sodium nitrite also decreases the oxygen-carrying capacity of red blood cells and it can cause respiratory problems.
BHA/BHT (Butylated Hydroxyanisole and Butylated Hydroxytoluene): It preserves the oils and fats in food like meat, butter, baked goods, cereals etc. Research by the National Toxicology Program has revealed that both of them are harmful to liver and kidneys and can cause cancer.
Ammonium Sulfate: It is used in household cleaning materials and fertilizers, but it is also found in bread. It is said to be used in famous fast food outlets such as Subway. The chemical can cause respiratory tract and gastrointestinal disturbances and pulmonary diseases.
Potassium nitrite: It is also added to meats like ham. However, it can cause a lot of health problems like a headache, dizziness, convulsions, coma, irregular heartbeat, and even cancer.
Phosphoric acid: This colourless and odourless liquid is used in sodas and fruit juices to give them the tangy and sharp taste and also to inhibit the growth of bacteria. Phosphoric acid erodes teeth and is also linked to kidney disease and low bone density.
Titanium dioxide: it is used in packaged food like vanilla pudding, doughnuts, whipped cream, chocolate bars etc. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has named the chemical as cancer-causing in humans.
Few research studies on rats have suggested that the chemical can cause cancer in the respiratory tract and toxic effect in cells of the brain which may lead to degenerative diseases.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG): It is a food preservative and flavour enhancer. It is an excitatory neurotransmitter which means it causes excessive stimulation of neurons (nerve cells). This causes brain lesions, seizures, migraine, depression etc.
Propyl Gallate: It is added to soup bases, vegetable oils, processed meat etc. It can cause a large number of health problems like liver disease, kidney disease, cancers etc. Some research has suggested that the chemical can cause hormone balance imbalance in the body.
Save yourself – Say NO to preservatives!
Hence we find that multiple chemicals are used in the packaged food that we consume on daily basis. While these so-called preservatives are added to food to save us from the negative impact of consuming spoilt food, they are actually causing more harm than good!
No wonder there has been such a sharp spike in the incidence of cancers and other noncommunicable diseases in recent times. In fact, a majority of the modern era health disorders are either a result of highly processed foods or sedentary lifestyles! So, save yourself from these imminent health perils.
Next time, before picking up that inviting pack of processed food, let’s have a look at the labeling of food wrapper and pay attention to the list of ingredients.
Avoid the foods that contain artificial preservatives, additives, or any ingredient that is difficult to pronounce!!
Let’s think multiple times before taking a food with artificial preservatives and save ourselves!