Family and Consumer Science
The Effects of Food Additives
For many centuries, substances have been added to food in order to make its appearance attractive, increase flavor, as well as to preserve it. Even before the invention of the refrigerator, fish and meat were preserved using salts. Fruits were preserved by having sugar added onto them. In most ancient cultures, spices and wine were preserved using sulphites. Also, in order to enhance the flavor of food, colorings were put into the food. Currently, in the food that people consume, it is estimated that there are many food additives in them. According to the database established by the Food and Drug Administration there are many food additives and are 3000 in total. The food additives are found in kitchen cabinets, in items such as baking soda, sugar and salt. People are ignorant about what the food additive does to their health as well as their safety (Winter, 2004).
This paper seeks to give an analysis whether food additives are harmful or beneficial to human beings.
Critical analysis of the food additives
Substances that are added to food in order to change its characteristics are known as food additives. The food additives can either be indirect or direct. The latter refers to additives that are added into food and are for specific purposes. They can be sugar or salt and are found in food labels, as they have been listed as ingredients. The food additives that are indirect occur as trace amounts, and this is as a result of other handling, and package storage. As compared to other times in history, color and food additives are today more strictly monitored, regulated and studied. Before products are put on the market, the FDA must approve that they are safe, and this is after many rigorous tests have been conducted (Winter, 2004).
Fierce controversy exists concerning food additives as well as the health risks that they pose. Fortunately, in the United States, the law on food additives ensures that food is safe for consumption. People should at the same time be cautious about the chemicals found in the food that they consume. An example is phenylalanine that is an amino acid that occurs naturally as a protein. Various foods are manufactured using phenylalanine, and it is also used in the manufacturing of aspartame an artificial sweetener. This additive is known to cause problems in young children when they are growing up as it affects their brain development. This means that when children are being fed, the amount of phenylketonuria should be limited (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 1993).
Another common food additive is lactose, and there are some people who are lactose intolerant. It means that they cannot easily digest the lactose that is found in milk sugar. Those prone to becoming lactose intolerant are people with African and Asian origin. They have to take a diet that has limited amounts of dairy foods and milk. In turn, they tend to develop symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain and indigestion. Other common and dangerous chemicals include; saccharin, nitrate, nitrite, monosodium Glutamate and caffeine (Blaylock, 2006).
In conclusion, food additives have more harmful effects as compared to beneficial purposes. Many people continue to consume food without knowing the food additives that they have. In turn, many people have suffered as their health has been affected. It is vital that people try and avoid food additives and instead use natural spices.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (1993). Everything Added to Food in the United States. Boca Raton, FL: Smoley.
Winter, Ruth. (2004).A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives: Descriptions in Plain English of More Than 12,000 Ingredients Both Harmful and Desirable Found in Foods. New York: Three Rivers Press.
Blaylock. Russell. (2006).Health and Nutrition Secrets That Can Save Your Life. Health Press NA Inc.