E-numbers — How Dangerous Are These Food Additives?

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The E-number system was initially used within the European Union with a purpose to regulate using substances added to processed meals and drinks to color them, flavour them, change their texture or improve their preserving qualities. Additives got a singular quantity and people which had been accepted to be used had been prefixed by ‘E’. Since then the numbering system has been adopted internationally, however solely the European international locations use the ‘E’ prefix.

Most meals components are thought-about by the authorities to be protected, though some are identified to be cancer-producing or dangerous for you in different methods. Countries don’t at all times agree on whether or not a sure additive is harmful or not, therefore some components are banned in some international locations however not in others.

Additives are numbered in line with their primary goal as proven beneath:

  • E100 – E199 (colors)
  • E200 – E299 (preservatives)
  • E300 – E399 (antioxidants, acidity regulators)
  • E400 – E499 (thickeners, stabilizers, emulsifiers)
  • E500 – E599 (acidity regulators, anti-caking brokers)
  • E600 – E699 (flavour enhancers)
  • E900 – E999 (miscellaneous)
  • E1000 – E1999 (extra chemical compounds)

Although there are a number of thousand components in use, they aren’t all artificial substances. We ought to keep in mind that meals components resembling salt, sugar and vinegar have been used to protect meals for hundreds of years. However, the variety of components in our foods and drinks has exploded within the final thirty years as processed meals has modified from a uncommon to a serious element of our eating regimen. It is that this general load which might be of most concern.

So if an additive has been accepted, it is OK, is not it? Well, not precisely. Some accepted components have been linked with hyperactivity (ADHD) in kids. Others have been linked with allergic or sensitivity reactions, bronchial asthma and migraines.

The components which can be typically thought-about to be probably the most troublesome are:


The nitrates and nitrites (E249 – 252) are probably carcinogenic (most cancers producing). They produce the attribute flavour of bacon and ham which can’t be produced every other means, so sadly these preservatives are tough to ban.

The benzoates (E210 – 219) may cause sensitivity issues resembling urticaria or hives and bronchial asthma in people who find themselves additionally delicate to aspirin and / or tartazine (E102).

The sulphites, metabisulphites and sulphur dioxide (E220 – 227) can set off bronchial asthma assaults on account of their irritant impact on the airways. They are sometimes present in chilly drinks, fruit juice concentrates and wine, dried fruits particularly apricots and sprayed on salads.


Synthetic phenolic antioxidants BHA and BHT (E320 and 321) can set off bronchial asthma, rhinitis and urticaria or hives.

Emulsifiers, stabilizers and thickeners

E430, E433 and E435 are significantly suspected of being carcinogens (most cancers producing).


The artificial colors often known as azo-dyes resembling tartazine (E102), sundown yellow (E110) and amaranth (E123) are identified for inflicting sensitivity reactions resembling urticaria or hives and bronchial asthma, particularly in kids. Excess quantities of meals colourings and sodium benzoate preservatives are significantly linked with hyperactivity (ADHD) in kids.

Flavour enhancers

The most vital and extensively used flavour enhancer is monosodium glutamate, or MSG. Well identified for producing ‘Chinese Restaurant Syndrome’, the signs of which vary from tightness within the chest and palpitations to faintness, flushing, sweating, headache and low blood strain, MSG is now believed to be an endocrine disrupter. This implies that it may upset the physique’s endocrine (hormonal) system. The long run results on all points of well being that this might have are probably far worse than ‘Chinese Restaurant Syndrome’ and because of this significantly disturbing. MSG can also be reported to set off assaults in some asthmatics.

Unfortunately, the additive-labelling system just isn’t infallible. Certain classes of merchandise are exempt, resembling alcoholic drinks, foods and drinks served in catering institutions, and medicines. Food bought with out wrapping resembling cheese, delicatessen objects and bread might also be exempt, although they’re prone to include components. Even with labelled meals, producers will not be required to listing all of the substances that got here already added to the elements.

Some classes of components resembling flavourings don’t have to be listed on labels both. They have by no means been examined for security, and the idea that they’re protected depends upon the truth that they’re utilized in very small portions. However, anybody consuming giant quantities of confectionery or sweet, gentle drinks and processed snacks is prone to get a a lot larger dose.

Unless we all know we now have issues with particular components as people, we’d assume that there is no such thing as a want to fret about them. However, little or no is understood concerning the cumulative results of the hundreds of chemical compounds to which we’re uncovered in our every day lives, whether or not we take them in by way of our meals or drink, or by way of our pores and skin and lungs. We cannot stop this onslaught upon our physique’s detoxing programs (primarily our liver and kidneys) except we decide out of recent residing. But widespread sense tells us that we will scale back our dangers by avoiding added chemical compounds each time we will. So subsequent time you’re within the grocery store, examine the labels of processed meals and choose the manufacturers with the least components. Or higher nonetheless, purchase the elements, in as unprocessed a kind as doable, and make your individual low-additive meals.

Copyright GoodDietGoodHealth.com 2007

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