Cocktail of chemicals: the health impact of additives in processed foods

The Conversation, Sept. 12, 2011

A growing body of evidence is focusing attention on the dangers posed by the myriad chemicals in our food. Although certainty around the precise impact of these chemicals is some way off, what we do know indicates a chemical cocktail of colourings, preservatives, and flavour enhancers, among other things, may be having a negative impact on our minds and bodies.

The chocolate cake may well contain artificial colourings, along with the cocoa to give it that beautiful brown colour, and perhaps a preservative in the icing or cream, or even the cake itself. The vanilla latte will more than likely have a benzoate preservative in the syrup, as well as colourings, not to mention artificial flavourings.

Public interest in artificial food additives was brought to the forefront in 2007 with the release of the so-called Southampton study.

The results of this study showed the adverse effects of a mix of artificial colours and one preservative (all of which are permitted in Australia) for a group of children aged three to four and eight to nine years.

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