Food manufacturers utilize an arsenal of different food additives and preservatives to make food taste better, look more appealing and last longer. Their names are the words on food labels that you can hardly pronounce.
They include dyes and colorings, antioxidants, emulsifiers and stabilizers, flavorings and taste enhancers, and preservatives. The downside of these substances is they have been linked to immediate and delayed food allergies.
Reactions attributed to food additives give one cause for concern. They include: eczema, itching, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, asthma, hay fever, cough, muscle or joint aches, fatigue and weakness, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, mood changes, migraines, heart palpitations and more.
What are some of the offenders?
Benzoates are preservatives used in foods, such as soft drinks, low-sugar products, cereals and processed meat products. They can exacerbate symptoms of asthma and hay fever, and contribute to hives and flushing. Words to look for on labels: benzoic acid, calcium benzoate, potassium benzoate.
Sulfites are used as preservatives in wine and dried fruit. They may trigger asthma, respiratory problems, flushing, low blood pressure and other symptoms. Some to avoid: calcium sulphite, sodium metasulphite, sodium sulphite.
Nitrates and Nitrites
Nitrates and nitrites are found in all kinds of processed meats, including lunch meats, hot dogs and bacon. These substances, used in the curing process, may provoke itching, hives and flushing. Some research studies have linked them to Alzheimer’s and cancer. They may be listed as sodium nitrite or potassium nitrate on labels.
Tartrazine (also known as FD&C Yellow #5) is a yellow food coloring used to enhance the appearance of many foods. It may worsen allergic reactions, such as hay fever and hives, and cause asthmatic reactions, and has been linked to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorders.
Annatto, another yellow dye, is used to enhance the coloring of cheese and may cause allergic reactions, such as hives or respiratory problems.
Red dyes include carmine, made from a dried insects, and Ponceau 4R, Conchineal Red A. These dyes may worsen symptoms for individuals with asthma, hay fever and chronic hives.