Cancer, is the more serious long term potential side effects from consuming these products, http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/news/food-agency-calls-for-ban-on-six-artificial-colours-807806.html but first you have the instant allergic reactions eg. rashes, nausea, diarrhoea and hyperactivity in sensitive children. http://www.news-medical.net/news/20100718/Artificial-colours-in-food-linked-to-cancer-and-behavioral-disorders-in-children-Study.aspx.
Brightly coloured and synthetically flavoured cakes, candies, ice-creams, biscuits, chips, sauces and other snack and highly processed foods, entice not only kids but us adults too. Yes I know these foods are very tasty but... we need to rein in our cravings and think twice before indulging.
Even if you choose to stay away from artificial colouring and flavouring you need to watch out for a host of other food menaces, namely Additives, Preservatives and Stabilizers. Some of the really nasty commonly used ones are, preservatives sodium benzoate (211) and sulphur dioxide (220); artificial sweeteners aspartame (951) and saccharin (954); flavour enhancers MSG (621) and disodium 5’-ribonucleotides (635). Bill Statham author of the highly acclaimed book 'The Chemical Maze' states,“These food additives cause or exacerbate complaints like asthma, hyperactivity, skin rashes, headaches and migraines to name a few conditions. They may also be associated with organ dysfunction, reproductive abnormalities, birth defects and cancer”
When we pick up a processed loaf of bread in the supermarket, most of us tend to read the front and overlook the ingredients listed on the back, especially as they are usually in some obscure place on the packaging and in tiny print. Promises of High-Fibre, added Iron and Omega 3’s are all very enticing and give the illusion that eating this bread will promote good health but… if you take a look at the fine print, often the list of artificial preservatives, stabilizers, colours and flavourings,( usually listed as numbers - which means nothing to the average person) do the exact opposite and can compromise our health. Note the difference why you buy bread fresh from a bakery, you will find it will only remain soft and fresh for a couple days at the very most, but when you buy highly processed packaged bread, it can stay soft and pliable for a week! We have to ask ourselves what is being used to keep it from going stale?!
What can we do
The most important thing is awareness when shopping for food. A simple rule of thumb is if you don’t know what an ingredient is don’t eat it!!.
- When the ingredients that make up a food item are listed as a numbered code, then we should all be thinking twice before consuming it. Here is a very handy site that tells us what all these codes stand for http://www.fedupwithfoodadditives.info/information/additivesall.htm
- Read labels and steer clear of products which have a huge list of ingredients that are in numbered codes or long winded chemical names. Pick products with as few ingredients as possible, this often means the product is more natural.
- Find alternatives to artificial food colours. Try experimenting by making your own natural colours when you are making sweets or icing cakes. Fruits, vegetables and even spices like beetroot, blueberry, carrot, tumeric and spinach will make great reds, blues, oranges, yellows and greens.
- Cook with natural produce at home like our grandmothers did. Many of us have forgotten the pleasures of eating something fresh off the stove. Aim to use fresh, natural and if you can organic ingredients. If you are busy, cook up a big batch and freeze in small containers,this way you always have something on hand
- If you have a sweet tooth, try making your own toffee's, ice-cream, cakes and sorbets.
- At the very least, always look for products that state on the packaging that they contain no artificial colouring or flavouring.
- When buying packaged and processed food where possible buy organic produce, as this tends to be closer to a natural state and organic manufacturers really do everything they can to minimize adding anything dangerous or artificial.