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Safety of Most Food Additives Has Not Been Properly Studied

Apr 27, 2015

Global Research, a Montreal-based research and media organization, says that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not properly studied many of the additives found in our foods. According to the agency’s own database, 93 percent of food additives do not have reproductive or developmental toxicity data.

The FDA allows thousands of different food additives. Some are used to preserve food, others to enhance taste or appearance. In some instances, a cheaper additive replaces a more expensive food ingredient, Global Research reports. But a 2013 study published in the journal Reproductive Toxicology found that for almost 80 percent of additives there is not enough information to estimate the amount that humans can safely consume. “In the absence of toxicology data on the majority of chemicals added to food, the scientific basis for determinations of safety to humans may be questioned,” the researchers concluded.

Though many food additives carry the designation GRAS (generally recognized as safe), this can come without the testing health experts say is necessary to know if an additive is truly safe for human consumption. Many GRAS substances are those used in food before 1958. General recognition of safety through experience based on common use in foods requires a substantial history of consumption for food use by a significant number of consumers, the FDA explains. But Global Research says that better testing is needed.

Global Research warns about some potentially dangerous food additives and possible health consequences.

  • BHT and BHA are preservatives for fats and oils and are found in cereals, vegetable oil, potato chips, popcorn, and other packaged foods. Studies have concluded that BHT and BHA may cause cancer in rats.
  • Azodicarbonamide –used in the rubber and plastics industries and also used as a dough conditioner in breads, other baked goods, and in the buns and breads used in several fast food chains. In response to a petition campaign, Subway has agreed to discontinue its use. Azodicarbonamide has been found to cause cancer in rodents.
  • MSG is an excitotoxin that enhances the taste of food. It is found in salad dressings, potato chips, hot dogs, canned soup and tuna, frozen dinners, and prepared gravies. There is believed to be a link between sudden cardiac death and excitotoxic damage caused by MSG and artificial sweeteners.
  • Acesulfame-K is an artificial sweetener used in candy, drinks, chewing gum and other products. Acesulfame-K contains methylene chloride, a known carcinogen. It may also cause liver and kidney impairment, and problems with eyesight.
  • Sodium nitrate is a preservative used in bacon, ham, hot dogs, and other processed meats. Nitrates can be converted to cancer-causing nitrosamines.


Global Research reports that food dyes, including Blue 1, Blue 2, Red 3 and Yellow 6 are considered dangerous. Blue 1 and Blue 2 have been found to cause hyperactivity and possibly cause brain tumors in mice. Red 2 may cause thyroid tumors. Yellow 6 may cause adrenal gland and kidney tumors.

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