Very Bad-

-ACESULFAME POTASSIUM
-ARTIFICIAL COLORINGS: BLUE 1, BLUE 2,GREEN 3, RED 3, YELLOW 6
-ASPARTAME (Nutrasweet)
-BUTYLATED HYDROXYANISOLE (BHA)
-CYCLAMATE
(not legal in U.S.)
-HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL
-OLESTRA (Olean)
-PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL
-POTASSIUM BROMATE
-PROPYL GALLATE
-SACCHARIN
-SODIUM NITRATE
-SODIUM NITRITE

ACESULFAME-K

Artificial sweetener: Baked goods, chewing gum, gelatin desserts, diet soda, Sunette.

This artificial sweetener, manufactured by Hoechst, a giant German chemical company, is widely used around the world. It is about 200 times sweeter than sugar. In the United States, for several years acesulfame-K (the K is the chemical symbol for potassium) was permitted only in such foods as sugar-free baked goods, chewing gum, and gelatin desserts. In July 1998, the FDA allowed this chemical to be used in soft drinks, thereby greatly increasing consumer exposure. It is often used together with sucralose (see SUCRALOSE).

The safety tests of acesulfame-K were conducted in the 1970s and were of mediocre quality. Key rat tests were afflicted by disease in the animal colonies; a mouse study was several months too brief and did not expose animals during gestation. Two rat studies suggest that the additive might cause cancer. It was for those reasons that in 1996 the Center for Science in the Public Interest urged the FDA to require better testing before permitting acesulfame-K in soft drinks. In addition, large doses of acetoacetamide, a breakdown product, have been shown to affect the thyroid in rats, rabbits, and dogs. Hopefully, the small amounts in food are not harmful.

-

ARTIFICIAL COLORINGS: BLUE 1

Beverages, candy, baked goods.

Animal tests suggest a small cancer risk. A test-tube study indicated the dye might affect neurons.

-

ARTIFICIAL COLORINGS: BLUE 2

Pet food, beverages, candy.

Animal studies found some—but not conclusive—evidence that Blue 2 causes cancer, but the Food and Drug Administration concluded that there is "reasonable certainty of no harm."

-


ARTIFICIAL COLORINGS: RED 3


Candy, baked goods.

The evidence that this dye caused thyroid tumors in rats is "convincing," according to a 1983 review committee report requested by FDA. FDA’s recommendation that the dye be banned was overruled by pressure from elsewhere in the Reagan Administration. Red 3 used to color maraschino cherries, but it has been replaced by the less controversial Red 40 dye.

-

ARTIFICIAL COLORINGS: YELLOW 6

Beverages, sausage, baked goods, candy, gelatin.

Industry-sponsored animal tests indicated that this dye, the third most widely used, causes tumors of the adrenal gland and kidney. In addition, small amounts of several carcinogens contaminate Yellow 6. However, the FDA reviewed those data and found reasons to conclude that Yellow 6 does not pose a significant cancer risk to humans. Yellow 6 may cause occasional allergic reactions.

-

ASPARTAME

Artificial sweetener: "Diet" foods, including soft drinks, drink mixes, gelatin desserts, low-calorie frozen desserts, packets.

Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), a chemical combination of two amino acids and methanol, was initially thought to be the perfect artificial sweetener, but it might cause cancer or neurological problems such as dizziness or hallucinations.

A 1970s study suggested that aspartame caused brain tumors in rats. However, the Food and Drug Administration persuaded an independent review panel to reverse its conclusion that aspartame was unsafe. The California Environmental Protection Agency and others have urged that independent scientists conduct new animal studies to resolve the cancer question. In 2005, researchers at the Ramazzini Foundation in Bologna, Italy, conducted the first such study. It indicated that rats first exposed to aspartame at eight weeks of age caused lymphomas and leukemias in females. However, the European Food Safety Authority reviewed the study and concluded that the tumors probably occurred just by chance.

In 2007, the same Italian researchers published a follow-up study that began exposing rats to aspartame in utero. This study found that aspartame caused leukemias/lymphomas and mammary (breast) cancer. It is likely that the new studies found problems that earlier company-sponsored studies did not because the Italian researchers monitored the rats for three years instead of two. The Italian tests remain controversial, with the industry contending that they were flawed in several ways and with the FDA stating its scientists couldn't evaluate the studies because the researchers refused to provide their original data.

In a 2006 study, U.S. National Cancer Institute researchers studied a large number of adults 50 to 69 years of age over a five-year period. There was no evidence that aspartame posed any risk. However, the study was limited in three major regards: It did not involve truly elderly people (the rat studies monitored the rats until they died a natural death), the subjects had not consumed aspartame as children, and it was not a controlled study (the subjects provided only a rough estimate of their aspartame consumption, and people who consumed aspartame might have had other dietary or lifestyle differences that obscured the chemical’s effects).

The bottom line is that lifelong consumption of aspartame probably increases the risk of cancer. People—especially young children—should not consume foods and beverages sweetened with aspartame, should switch to products sweetened with SUCRALOSE (Splenda), or should avoid all artificially sweetened foods. Two other artificial sweeteners, SACCHARIN and ACESULFAME-K, have also been linked to a risk of cancer.

-

Azodicarbonamide

Flour bleaching agent

It is a chemical whose primary use is “in the production of foamed plastics.” In the United States it is also used as a food additive and flour bleaching agent.

Azodicarbonamide may cause an allergic reaction in those sensitive to other azo compounds (such as food dyes). The consumption of azodicarbonamide may also heighten an allergic reaction to other ingredients in a food.

Well, for one, most of the world does not look upon the chemical additive very favorably. It is banned as a food additive and in food packaging in the United Kingdom. It is banned in most European countries as well as Australia. And its use in Singapore has some pretty severe penalties (up to 15 years in prison and $450,000 fine). That is not the case in the United States.

According to Food Lorists, “In the UK, the H.S.E has identified azodicarbonamide as a respiratory sensitiser (a possible cause of asthma) and determined that products should be labeled with “May cause sensitisation by inhalation.”

-

BUTYLATED HYDROXYANISOLE (BHA)

Antioxidant: Cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, vegetable oil.

BHA retards rancidity in fats, oils, and oil-containing foods. While some studies indicate it is safe, other studies demonstrate that it causes cancer in rats, mice, and hamsters. Those cancers are controversial because they occur in the forestomach, an organ that humans do not have. However, a chemical that causes cancer in at least one organ in three different species indicates that it might be carcinogenic in humans. That is why the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers BHA to be “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” Nevertheless, the Food and Drug Administration still permits BHA to be used in foods. This synthetic chemical can be replaced by safer chemicals (e.g., vitamin E), safer processes (e.g., packing foods under nitrogen instead of air), or can simply be left out (many brands of oily foods, such as potato chips, don’t use any antioxidant).

-

BUTYLATED HYDROXYTOLUENE (BHT)

Antioxidant: Cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, oils, etc.

BHT retards rancidity in oils. It either increased or decreased the risk of cancer in various animal studies. Residues of BHT occur in human fat. BHT is unnecessary or is easily replaced by safe substitutes (see discussion of BHA). Avoid it when possible.

-

CARMINE; COCHINEAL EXTRACT

Artificial coloring.

Cochineal extract is a coloring obtained from the cochineal insect, which lives on cactus plants in Peru, the Canary Islands and elsewhere. Carmine is a more purified coloring made from cochineal, but in both cases, carminic acid actually provides the color. These colorings, which are extremely stable, are used in some red, pink or purple candy, yogurt, ice cream, beverages, and other foods, as well as in drugs and cosmetics. They appear to be safe, except a small percentage of consumers suffer allergic reactions ranging from hives to life-threatening anaphylactic shock. Carmine and cochineal have long been listed on labels simply as "artificial coloring" or "color added." In 2009, in response to a petition by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the food industry until January 1, 2011, to clearly identify the colorings as carmine or cochineal extract on food labels to help consumers identity the cause of their allergic reaction and avoid the colorings in the future. Unfortunately, sensitive individuals must endure any number of allergic reactions before identifying the cause. The FDA rejected CSPI’s request for labels to disclose that carmine is extracted from insects so vegetarians and others who want to avoid animal products could do so.

-

CORN SYRUP

Sweetener, thickener: Candy, marshmallows, syrups, snack foods, imitation dairy foods.

Corn syrup, which consists mostly of dextrose, is a sweet, thick liquid made by treating cornstarch with acids or enzymes. It may be dried and used as corn syrup solids in coffee whiteners and other dry products. Corn syrup contains no nutritional value other than calories, promotes tooth decay, and is used mainly in foods with little intrinsic nutritional value.

-

CYCLAMATE

Artificial sweetener: Diet foods.

This controversial high-potency sweetener was used in the United States in diet foods until 1970, at which time it was banned. Animal studies indicated that it causes cancer. Now, based on animal studies, it (or a byproduct) is believed not to cause cancer directly, but to increase the potency of other carcinogens and to harm the testes.

-

DIACETYL

Butter flavoring.

Diacetyl is one of the many chemicals that gives butter its characteristic flavor. Low levels are present in butter (including unsalted butter, to which extra diacetyl is added to prolong its shelf life). Much higher levels have been used in butter-flavored popcorn, margarine, and butter-flavored cooking oils and sprays. The low levels are safe, but workers in factories that produce microwave popcorn learned the hard way that long-term exposure to diacetyl causes obstructive lung disease, which is potentially fatal. Following widespread publicity around 2005 to 2007 and several lawsuits persuaded most major American food manufacturers to protect their workers (and restaurant cooks) by switching to safer ingredients.

-

FRUCTOSE

Sweetener: "Health" drinks and other products.

Fructose (also called levulose) is a sugar that is a little sweeter than table sugar. Modest amounts of fructose occur naturally in fruits and vegetables, which also contain other sugars. When table sugar is digested, it breaks down into equal amounts of fructose and glucose (dextrose). Another major source of fructose in the typical diet is high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which typically contains about half fructose and half glucose. Fructose itself is used as a sweetener in a small number of foods whose labels often imply, deceptively, that such foods are healthier than competing products that are sweetened with sugar or HFCS.

Modest amounts of fructose are safe and do not boost blood glucose levels, making the sweetener attractive to diabetics. However, large amounts increase triglyceride (fat) levels in blood and, thereby, increase the risk of heart disease. Large amounts consumed on a regular basis also may affect levels of such hormones as insulin, leptin, and ghrelin, that regulate appetite, thereby contributing to weight gain and obesity.

-

HIGH-FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP

Sweetener: Soft drinks, other processed foods.

Also found to contain mercury.

Our consumption of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has soared since around 1980. That’s because this sweet syrupy liquid is cheaper and easier for some companies to use than sugar. HFCS has been blamed by a few people for the obesity epidemic, because rates of obesity have climbed right along with HFCS consumption. But that’s an urban myth. There isn’t a shred of evidence that HFCS is any more harmful (or healthier) than sugar. We’re consuming way too much of both.

Some people think that HFCS is mostly fructose, and fructose probably does play a role in obesity. However, HFCS, on average, is about half fructose and half glucose—exactly the same as ordinary table sugar, sucrose, when sucrose is metabolized by the body. When sugar is (or, as is generally the case, was) used in soft drinks, much of it was broken down to glucose and fructose right in the bottle. If the big soda companies weren’t using HFCS, they’d be using regular sugar, and the extra cost would only be a couple of cents per can, a difference that likely would have little effect on consumption.

HFCS starts out as cornstarch. Companies use enzymes or acids to break down the starch into its glucose subunits. Then other enzymes convert different proportions of the glucose to fructose. The resulting syrups contain as much as 90 percent fructose, but most HFCS is 42 percent or 55 percent fructose. In 2005, about 77 pounds of corn sweeteners, mostly HFCS, and 63 pounds cane and beet sugar were produced per capita (U.S.). A total of 142 pounds of all caloric sweeteners, down from the 1999 high of 151 pounds, was produced per person. (Production does not equal actual consumption, because some sugars, or the products in which they are used, are lost or discarded in the distribution chain.)

-

INVERT SUGAR

Sweetener: Candy, soft drinks, many other foods.

Invert sugar, a 50-50 mixture of two sugars, dextrose and fructose, is sweeter and more soluble than sucrose (table sugar). Invert sugar forms when sucrose is split in two by an enzyme or acid. It provides "empty calories," contributes to tooth decay, and should be avoided.

-

LACTITOL

Sweetener: Candy, chocolates, baked goods, ice cream, and other sugar-free foods.

Lactitol, like sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol, is a sugar alcohol, also called a polyol. It is made from lactose, or milk sugar. Like other sugar alcohols, lactitol is not absorbed well by the body (which means it has fewer calories per gram than table sugar) and does not promote tooth decay. However, large amounts (above 20 to 30 grams) may cause loose stools or diarrhea.

-

MALTITOL


Sweetener:Candy, chocolates, jams, and other sugar-free foods.

Maltitol, like sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol, is a sugar alcohol, also called a polyol. It is made by hydrogenating maltose, which is obtained from corn syrup. Like other sugar alcohols, mannitol is not absorbed well by the body (which means it has fewer calories per gram than table sugar) and does not promote tooth decay. However, large amounts (above 20 to 30 grams) may have a laxative effect.

-

MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE (MSG)

Flavor enhancer: Soup, salad dressing, chips, frozen entrees, restaurant foods.

This amino acid brings out the flavor in many foods. While that may sound like a treat for taste buds, the use of MSG allows companies to reduce the amount of real ingredients in their foods, such as chicken in chicken soup. In the 1960s, it was discovered that large amounts of MSG fed to infant mice destroyed nerve cells in the brain. After that research was publicized, public pressure forced baby-food companies to stop adding MSG to their products (it was used to make the foods taste better to parents).

Careful studies have shown that some people are sensitive to large amounts of MSG. Reactions include headache, nausea, weakness, and burning sensation in the back of neck and forearms. Some people complain of wheezing, changes in heart rate, and difficulty breathing. Some people claim to be sensitive to very small amounts of MSG, but no good studies have been done to determine just how little MSG can cause a reaction in the most-sensitive people. To protect the public’s health, manufacturers and restaurateurs should use less or no MSG and the amounts of MSG should be listed on labels of foods that contain significant amounts. People who believe they are sensitive to MSG should be aware that other ingredients, such as natural flavoring and hydrolyzed vegetable protein, also contain glutamate. Also, foods such as Parmesan cheese and tomatoes contain glutamate that occurs naturally, but no reactions have been reported to those foods.

-

MYCOPROTEIN

Meat substitute: Quorn brand foods.

Mycoprotein, the novel ingredient in Quorn-brand frozen meat substitutes, is made from processed mold (Fusarium venenatum). Though the manufacturer's (Marlow Foods) advertising and labeling implied that the product is "mushroom protein" or "mushroom in origin," the mold (or fungus) from which it is made does not produce mushrooms. Rather, the mold is grown in liquid solution in large tanks. It has been used in the United Kingdom since the 1990s and has also been sold in continental Europe. Quorn foods have been marketed in the United States since 2002. The chunks of imitation meat are nutritious, but the prepared foods in which they are used may be high in fat or salt.

Several percent of consumers are sensitive to Quorn products, resulting in vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and, less often, hives and potentially fatal anaphylactic reactions. Many people have gone to emergency rooms for treatment of Quorn-related reactions. A survey in the United Kingdom sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) found that the percentage of consumers sensitive to Quorn is probably as great as, or greater than, the percentage sensitive to soy, milk, peanuts, and other common food allergens. The British and American governments acknowledge that Quorn foods cause allergic reactions, but rejected CSPI's recommendations to bar the use of mycoprotein or require Quorn foods to bear a warning label. (In fact, when Quorn-containing "vegetarian" products are served at restaurants, cafeterias, and other foodservice locations, there is no label to inform consumers that they are eating Quorn foods.)

-

OLESTRA (Olean)

Fat substitute: Lay's Light Chips, Pringles Light chips.

Olestra is Procter & Gamble’s synthetic fat that is not absorbed as it passes through the digestive system, so it has no calories. Procter & Gamble suggests that replacing regular fat with olestra will help people lose weight and lower the risk of heart disease.

Olestra can cause diarrhea and loose stools, abdominal cramps, flatulence, and other adverse effects. Those symptoms are sometimes severe. Afflicted consumers can file reports with the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Olestra reduces the body’s ability to absorb fat-soluble carotenoids (such as alpha and beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and canthaxanthin) from fruits and vegetables, but an occasional serving wouldn't be a problem. Those nutrients are thought by many experts to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Olestra enables manufacturers to offer greasy-feeling low-fat snacks, but consumers would be better off with baked snacks, which are safe and just as low in calories. Products made with olestra should not be called "fat free," because they contain substantial amounts of indigestible fat.

-

PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL, HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL (Trans fat)

Fat, oil, shortening: Stick margarine, crackers, fried restaurant foods, baked goods, icing, microwave popcorn.

Vegetable oil, usually a liquid, can be made into a semi-solid shortening by reacting it with hydrogen. Partial hydrogenation reduces the levels of polyunsaturated oils - and also creates trans fats, which promote heart disease. A committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded in 2004 that on a gram-for-gram basis, trans fat is even more harmful than saturated fat. Ideally, food manufacturers would replace hydrogenated shortening with less-harmful ingredients. The Institute of Medicine has advised consumers to consume as little trans fat as possible, ideally less than about 2 grams a day (that much might come from naturally occurring trans fat in beef and dairy products). Harvard School of Public Health researchers estimate that trans fat had been causing about 50,000 premature heart attack deaths annually, making partially hydrogenated oil one of the most harmful ingredients in the food supply (see discussion of salt below).

Beginning in 2006, Nutrition Facts labels have had to list the amount of trans fat in a serving. That spurred many companies, including Frito-Lay, Kraft, ConAgra, and others, to replace most or all of the partially hydrogenated oil in almost all their products. Usually the substitutes are healthier and the total of saturated plus trans fat is no higher than it was. Foods labeled “0g trans fat” are permitted to contain 0.5g per serving, while “no trans fat” means none at all. Consumers need to read labels carefully: foods labeled “0g trans” or “no trans” may still have large amounts of saturated fat.

Restaurants, which do not provide nutrition information, have been slower to change, but the pace of change has picked up. They use partially hydrogenated oil for frying chicken, potatoes, and fish, as well as in biscuits and other baked goods. McDonald's, Wendy’s, KFC, Taco Bell, Ruby Tuesday, and Red Lobster are some of the large chains that have largely eliminated trans fat or soon will. Most large chains and many smaller independent restaurants continue to fry in partially hydrogenated oil and their French fries, fried chicken, fried fish, and pot pies contain substantial amounts of trans fat. Fortunately, the use of partially hydrogenated oil dropped by 50 percent from around 2000 to 2007.

In Denmark, the government has virtually banned partially hydrogenated oil. In 2004, the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the FDA to immediately require restaurants to disclose when they use partially hydrogenated oil and to begin the process of eliminating partially hydrogenated oil from the entire food supply. While the FDA rejected the idea of requiring restaurants to disclose the presence of trans fat, New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, and other jurisdictions have set tight limits on the trans-fat content of restaurant foods. Meanwhile, the FDA is continuing to consider CSPI’s petition to revoke the legal status of partially hydrogenated oil (the FDA considers that oil to be “generally recognized as safe,” even though it and everyone else considers it to be “generally recognized as dangerous.”

Fully hydrogenated vegetable oil does not have any trans fat, but it also does not have any polyunsaturated oils. It is sometimes mixed (physically or chemically) with polyunsaturated liquid soybean oil to create trans-free shortening. When it is chemically combined with liquid oil, the ingredient is called inter-esterified vegetable oil. Meanwhile, oil processors are trying to improve the hydrogenation process so that less trans fat forms.

-


POTASSIUM BROMATE


Flour improver: White flour, bread and rolls.

This additive has long been used to increase the volume of bread and to produce bread with a fine crumb (the not-crust part of bread) structure. Most bromate rapidly breaks down to form innocuous bromide. However, bromate itself causes cancer in animals. The tiny amounts of bromate that may remain in bread pose a small risk to consumers. Bromate has been banned virtually worldwide except in Japan and the United States. It is rarely used in California because a cancer warning might be required on the label. In 1999, the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the FDA to ban bromate. Since then, numerous millers and bakers have stopped using bromate.

-



PROPYL GALLATE


Antioxidant preservative: Vegetable oil, meat products, potato sticks, chicken soup base, chewing gum.

Propyl gallate retards the spoilage of fats and oils and is often used with BHA and BHT, because of the synergistic effects these preservatives have. The best studies on rats and mice were peppered with suggestions (but not proof) that this preservative might cause cancer.

-

SACCHARIN

Artificial sweetener: Diet, no-sugar-added products, soft drinks, sweetener packets.

Saccharin (Sweet ’N Low) is 350 times sweeter than sugar and is used in diet foods or as a tabletop sugar substitute. Many studies on animals have shown that saccharin can cause cancer of the urinary bladder. In other rodent studies, saccharin has caused cancer of the uterus, ovaries, skin, blood vessels, and other organs. Other studies have shown that saccharin increases the potency of other cancer-causing chemicals. And the best epidemiology study (done by the National Cancer Institute) found that the use of artificial sweeteners (saccharin and cyclamate) was associated with a higher incidence of bladder cancer.

In 1977, the FDA proposed that saccharin be banned, because of studies that it causes cancer in animals. However, Congress intervened and permitted it to be used, provided that foods bear a warning notice. It has been replaced in many products by aspartame (NutraSweet). In 1997, the diet-food industry began pressuring the U.S. and Canadian governments and the World Health Organization to take saccharin off their lists of cancer-causing chemicals. The industry acknowledges that saccharin causes bladder cancer in male rats, but argues that those tumors are caused by a mechanism that would not occur in humans. Many public health experts respond by stating that, even if that still-unproved mechanism were correct in male rats, saccharin could cause cancer by additional mechanisms and that, in some studies, saccharin has caused bladder cancer in mice and in female rats and other cancers in both rats and mice.

In May 2000, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services removed saccharin from its list of cancer-causing chemicals. Later that year, Congress passed a law removing the warning notice that likely will result in increased use in soft drinks and other foods and in a slightly greater incidence of cancer.

-

SALATRIM

Modified fat: Baked goods, candy.

This manufactured fat (developed by Nabisco) has the physical properties of regular fat, but the manufacturer claims it provides only about 5/9 as many calories. Its use can enable companies to make reduced-calorie claims on their products. Salatrim's low calorie content results from its content of stearic acid, which the manufacturer says is absorbed poorly, and short-chain fatty acids, which provide fewer calories per unit weight.

Critics have charged that it does not provide as big a calorie reduction as claimed by Nabisco. Moreover, only very limited testing has been done to determine effects on humans. Eating small amounts of salatrim is probably safe, but large amounts (30g or more per day) increase the risk of such side effects as stomach cramps and nausea. No tests have been done to determine if the various food additives (salatrim, olestra, mannitol, and sorbitol) that cause gastrointestinal symptoms can act in concert to cause greater effects.

Nabisco declared salatrim safe and has marketed it, as the law allows, without formal FDA approval. (Nabisco has since sold salatrim to another company, Cultor.) In June 1998, the Center for Science in the Public Interest urged the FDA to ban salatrim until better tests were done and demonstrated safety. The FDA rejected that recommendation, but salatrim is not widely used, if at all.

-

SODIUM BENZOATE, BENZOIC ACID


Preservative: Fruit juice, carbonated drinks, pickles.

Manufacturers have used sodium benzoate (and its close relative benzoic acid) for a century to prevent the growth of microorganisms in acidic foods. The substances occur naturally in many plants and animals. They appear to be safe for most people, though they cause hives, asthma, or other allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.

Another problem occurs when sodium benzoate is used in beverages that also contain ascorbic acid (vitamin C). The two substances, in an acidic solution, can react together to form small amounts of benzene, a chemical that causes leukemia and other cancers. Though the amounts of benzene that form are small, leading to only a very small risk of cancer, there is no need for consumers to experience any risk. In the early 1990s the FDA had urged companies not to use benzoate in products that also contain ascorbic acid, but in the 2000s companies were still using that combination. A lawsuit filed in 2006 by private attorneys ultimately forced Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and other soft-drink makers in the U.S. to reformulate affected beverages, typically fruit-flavored products.

-

SODIUM NITRITE, SODIUM NITRATE

Preservative, coloring, flavoring: Bacon, ham, frankfurters, luncheon meats, smoked fish, corned beef.

Meat processors love sodium nitrite because it stabilizes the red color in cured meat (without nitrite, hot dogs and bacon would look gray) and gives a characteristic flavor. Sodium nitrate is used in dry cured meat, because it slowly breaks down into nitrite. Adding nitrite to food can lead to the formation of small amounts of potent cancer-causing chemicals (nitrosamines), particularly in fried bacon. Nitrite, which also occurs in saliva and forms from nitrate in several vegetables, can undergo the same chemical reaction in the stomach. Companies now add ascorbic acid or erythorbic acid to bacon to inhibit nitrosamine formation, a measure that has greatly reduced the problem. While nitrite and nitrate cause only a small risk, they are still worth avoiding.

Several studies have linked consumption of cured meat and nitrite by children, pregnant women, and adults with various types of cancer. Although those studies have not yet proven that eating nitrite in bacon, sausage, and ham causes cancer in humans, pregnant women would be prudent to avoid those products.

The meat industry justifies its use of nitrite and nitrate by claiming that it prevents the growth of bacteria that cause botulism poisoning. That’s true, but freezing and refrigeration could also do that, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has developed a safe method using lactic-acid-producing bacteria. The use of nitrite and nitrate has decreased greatly over the decades, because of refrigeration and restrictions on the amounts used. The meat industry could do the public’s health a favor by cutting back even further. Because nitrite is used primarily in fatty, salty foods, consumers have important nutritional reasons for avoiding nitrite-preserved foods.

-

SORBITOL

Sweetener, thickening agent, maintains moisture: Dietetic drinks and foods, candy, shredded coconut, chewing gum.

Sorbitol occurs naturally in fruits and berries and is a close relative of sugars. It is half as sweet as sugar. It is used many dietetic foods. It is used in non-cariogenic (non-decay-causing) chewing gum because oral bacteria do not metabolize it well. Some diabetics use sorbitol-sweetened foods because it is absorbed slowly and does not cause blood sugar to increase rapidly. Moderate amounts of sorbitol are safe, but large amounts may have a strong laxative effect and even cause diarrhea. The FDA requires foods “whose reasonably foreseeable consumption may result in a daily ingestion of 50 grams of sorbitol" to bear the label statement: "Excess consumption may have a laxative effect."

-

More info here: http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemc...tm#mycoprotein