Food additives are substances that preserve flavor or improve the taste of a product.
These additives are classified as:
dye or coloring agents,
emulsifiers or stabilizers
flavoring or taste enhancers, or preservatives.
Food additives and preservatives have been used for thousands of years. For instance, it is believed that spices in curry seasonings were initially created to preserve the freshness of foods and conceal the taste of slightly spoiled foods.
Do food additives worry you? If yes, you’re not alone. Many Malaysians believe that additives such as preservatives are harmful to our health and that artificial colours cause behavioural and learning difficulties, such as ADHD. Yet the truth is while some adults and children are sensitive to food additives and will experience mild to severe side effects, most of us won’t.
As a general rule of thumb, the ones most likely to cause problems are those that are not essential. They “dress up” the food to make it more appealing, such as artificial colours, flavour enhancers and some preservatives. And the number of processed foods without these “chemical culprits” is growing significantly.
So, why were they added and what do they mean for your family’s health and wellbeing?