Another Dirty Dozen: Food Additives

By Sandy Todd Webster
Jan 19, 2015

Do you ever wonder if it’s safe to consume the “artificial colors” listed on certain food items, or if ingesting the “nitrates” listed on pre-packaged lunchmeat labels is healthy?

Environmental Working
Group, a research and advo- cacy nonprofit whose mis- sion is to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment, has some distinct ideas about these and other
food additives. EWG recently published the “Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives,” a list designed to help consumers figure out which additives to avoid and why.

The guide covers food additives associated with serious health concerns, ingredients banned or restricted in other countries, and other substances that EMG deems should not be in food. It turns the spotlight on some of the worst failures of the federal Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory process for additives and underscores the need for better oversight of our food system.

EWG also highlights two types of additives to watch, since scientists have not yet determined whether they are linked to human health problems.

“With thousands
of ingredients lurking in food, EWG wanted to bring attention to additives that may have implications for human
health, and we wanted to expose how the food regulatory system has failed us,” Johanna Congleton, PhD, EWG senior scientist, said in a press release. “Not all additives are cause for concern, but EWG’s Dirty Dozen list is a good place to start to identify which ones to avoid or minimize in your diet.”

EWG’s Dirty Dozen list:

  • nitrites and nitrates
  • potassium bromate
  • propyl paraben
  • butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
  • butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
  • propyl gallate
  • theobromine
  • secret flavor ingredients
  • artificial colors
  • diacetyl
  • phosphate-based food additives (Watch List)
  • aluminum-based additives (Watch List)

The Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives is based on scientific studies of hundreds of additives and data gathered from EWG’s newly released Food Scores: Rate Your Plate database and mobile app. The database houses information on more than 80,000 foods and 5,000 ingredients from about 1,500 brands.

Find a copy of the Dirty Dozen Food Additives List and more details here: www.ewg.org/research/ewg-s-dirth-dozen-guide-food-additives.

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Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster is the editor in chief of IDEA’s award-winning publications. She is Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified and is a Rouxbe Certified Plant-Based Professional cook.

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