Last week, registered dietitian/nutritionist Keri Gans, posted a blog commentary in U.S. News & World Report titled “The Case for Processed Foods.” Ms. Gan’s subtitle urges readers to “stop condemning all boxes, bottles and cans — and start being real.” She goes on to identify eight common food additives “that you should feel OK about if they happen to appear in your grocery cart.”
Oh, if only there were eight food additives or for that matter, a few hundred food additives to monitor and learn about — but that is far from the case in today’s food shopping environment.
This past summer, Kimberly Kindy of the Washington Post, wrote a very informative article explaining how the use of food additives is rising significantly, while the agency responsible for “ensuring the safety of the chemicals streaming into the food supply” — the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) — is increasingly unable to learn about and provide effective oversight over the safety of more than 9,000 food additives in our U.S. food supply.
According to Ms. Kindy, food additives continue to enter the food supply without the FDA even being notified or in other instances the science of such food additives is being kept secret from the FDA. Her article is scary but necessary reading. Ms. Kindy cites an example of the correlation researchers have made between the food additive carrageenan and gastrointestinal disorders. Unfortunately, the FDA’s refusal to take such research seriously is one example of the FDA’s many serious shortcomings in its work in ensuring food safety. Consequently, the use of carrageenan in food products is on the rise (especially health oriented and vegan related products).
By the way, I avoid carrageenan in all products I buy. Look for it in soy, almond, rice, hemp and similar milks, among other products. Another good reference on food additives to avoid is an article by Martin Downs for WebMD regarding the dangers of 7 Common Food Additives.
Last week, food market analysts reported that the global market for food additives is expected to exceed 36.1 Billion US Dollars by 2018. Read more here.
Americans are digesting food additives that have not been reviewed by the FDA. This a serious risk for all Americans. Whether health risks are occurring from the consumption of such food additives cannot be known until it’s too late. Even worse, where slowly developing health problems occur, the causal correlation to any specific food additive may never be known.
The Bottom Line: consumers need to read labels and make conscious choices about purchasing products containing suspicious food additives. Take the time to learn about the food additives in commonly purchased products. Avoid unknown food additives wherever practical and possible.