ADSactly Awareness - Why There are Hidden Chemicals in Our Food?

in #food6 years ago (edited)

Why There are Hidden Chemicals in Our Food?

If you are a curious cat you will often wonder what ingredients are present in a particular food substance before you eat it, especially when it is packaged food.

How many times have you picked up a packaged food or substance to check what ingredients it contains like picking up a tin of Tuna and finding it contains ingredients such as sulphites? Or picking up a jar of jam and finding it contains caramel? Did you know they can be harmful?

On some products you may not even find what is contained in them, I picked up a pack of biscuits recently and only saw sugar, flour, fat, chocolate and preservatives. You could also for instance pick up an assorted cake and find that the ingredients include flour, sugar, milk, glucose and preservatives. Some would say ‘leavening agents’,how many of us know what preservatives we are consuming? do you even know what leavening agents means? On bread you could find raising agents too.Have you wondered what substances are used as raising agents?

Do you know those are chemicals and they are right there in the food you are about to consume? I know that you trust that manufacturing company enough and you know that baked beans or nuttella can not hurt you but have you ever wondered why food especially packaged food have to contain chemicals as preservatives or enhancers? Do you know why certain chemicals as food additives are also present?

This is even about the ones you see, the ones the company is ready to reveal,what about the ones they don't want to reveal? yes every manufacturing company has a secret recipe, I've worked in several. Do you know that your packaged food contains certain additives or even contaminants that are not revealed? Food additives are usually meant to improve our food but they are still synthetic food materials or substances added into food products. As a food scientist, I know that manufacturing companies mean no harm but we should get to know why substances are added and their reactions in the body.

Let’s start with what food preservatives really are..

Preservatives are honestly meant for good, they are substances, be it chemical or natural used to delay spoilage or alteration in the initial quality of a food substance. They are also used to enhance colour, flavour and texture in food. So basically preservatives are not meant to be bad, they are meant for good. However as mentioned above there are natural preservatives and there are chemical preservatives.

Natural preservatives

These are substances occurring in their natural state but can be used to prevent spoilage in other food substances. They are very common and used by experienced chefs and cooks, they include, salt, sugar, alcohol, vinegar. I used to see my mum use salt to preserve locust bean, the freshness of meat and vegetables too. I bet many of us use this natural preservative a lot. There are also natural food processes that serve as preservatives.
Pre-gelatinization or pre-cooking, boiling, smoking, salting and even freezing are examples of such processes. I know that raw blended pepper can be preserved by boiling it for a while or by freezing or by both practices.

Image result for natural preservatives


Artificial preservatives

These are chemical preservatives and they are usually added to food either by mixing, spraying or even coating. These are the chemicals we need to be wary of and careful about.
They can be
Antimicrobials or
Chelating agents

Antioxidants are plant substances that protects the body from damage caused by hydrogen peroxide, hypochlorite and other free radicals. There are natural antioxidants which help prevents this damage in the body, they are found in fruits and vegatables in their natural states. This is why natural fruits and fresh fruits are good for the body. Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables include vitamins E, C and others. However there are artificials too.

Have you ever picked up a food item and you found BHT or BHA written on it as ingredient? In some you my not find it listed and some manufacturing companies might be faithful enough to add it but do you know what it means? These antioxidants and chemical preservatives can be harmful and are usually contained in a lot of packaged foods yet most consumers do not know. BHA and BHT are however believed to be safe in low doses, and there are foods available without them. Many of us have consumed this without knowing.

What are BHTs and BHAs?


Butylated hydroxyanisole is a chemical substance that is added to packaged foods to prevent rancidity and extend shelflife (expiry date). By mentioning rancidity you would be able to guess that I’m referring to food products that contain oil or high fat, so this substance is added to prevent off flavours in foods caused by rancidity. Can you mention some packaged foods without oil base? Hardly right? Even chocolate has oil base. So in essence I’m saying there is BHA contained in mosts packaged foods,potato chips, chewing gum even if it isn’t listed as an ingredient. Unfortunately BHA isn’t good for human health, although BHAs and BHTs are harmful only in the forestomach which humans do not have , they still remain harmful when ingested in large doses.


Butylated hydroxytoluene is another chemical substance used to extend shelf life of a food product as well as stop them from changing colour, odour or flavor.
Large doses of BHA and BHT have been shown to promote the growth of tumors especially in the fore stomach. Good thing humans do not have fore stomachs and manufacturing industries are beginning to switch to alternative preservative but it is advised that if you cannot totally stay away, reduce your intake.

foods that can contain BHAs and BHTs


These are substances that kill or prevent the growth of bacterials or microorganisms in foods.

Sodium benzoate or benzoic acid

This preservative prevents the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast in a food product. It is usually found in drinks, jams and juices. This is known to be safe, however if this combines with vitamin C in large quantities, benzene which can cause cancer is formed. So lovers of chocolate and carbonated drinks have to be careful .

Image result for foods containing sodium benzoate
foods that can contain sodium benzoate

Sulphur dioxide

This preservative is used as antimicrobial agents to also prevent discolouration and browning this is found in fruit juices, scallops, lobster, shrimps and so on. Unfortunately this is toxic as well.

sulfites are known to be big problems for asthmatic patients and those specifically sensitive to it. Asthmatic patients are sensitive to sulfites, it may trigger breathing problems for them. Sulphur dioxide is found in beer, wine, dried apricots vegetable juice and even lime juice. See why you should stop having too much beer?

Image result for foods containing sulphur dioxide
foods containing sulphur dioxide


Sodium nitrites
This is used in smoked meats and bacon. it helps to prevent colour changes and botulism, however as recognized safe as this is, it is linked to leukemia and tumors in children. It is found in corned beef, bacon , ham and hot dogs which is very common among us.

Image result for foods containing sodium nitrites
foods containing nitrites

Potassium sorbate / bromate
C6H7KO2 /KBrO3
This is usually used in bread or food substances which is required to increase in volume (rise) but this is a very harmful additive infact it was banned in Nigeria a long time ago and manufacturers have sought for alternatives. Manufacturers began stating clearly on their products that it is bromate free.

Related image
foods that can contain potassium bromate


Chelating agents are artificial preservtives and substances which binds with other harmful substances such as lead, mercury, calcium, cadmium and some others in order to remove them from the bloodstream and excrete them out through the kidney. They are chemicals meant to remove other chemicals from the body. Funny right?

You’ve probably heard of lead poisoning and mercury poisoning but I’m sure you are wondering why I have calcium on that list.


Yes, calcium is good for bones but it is dangerous in large quantity. Especially in older women , there is an increased risk of heart diseases in them because calcium increases protein levels which is associated with cardiovascular diseases.
Examples of chelating agents are :

EDTA (Disodium ethylenediaminetetraacetic
one of the most serious effects of EDTA is kidney damage.
Image result for foods containing EDTA

citric acid
Citric acid is quite beneficial to the body but when taken in excess, it can cause cramps and taken on an empty stomach can cause intestinal problems.

Image result for side effects  of citric acid 2018

There are other harmful food additives to be discussed in the next article. Remember to find out the ingredients contained in what you are about to ingest and if you cannot take the pain to find out, reduce your intake of processed foods. I have learned to reduce my intake of packaged foods over the years. Also work on your food cravings. Often times we find ourselves craving these food substances which are not very good for our health. Most harmful chemicals begin to act negatively in the body when they are in large doses. Now you know, reduce your intake of packaged foods, eat safe!

Authored by: @ponmile

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This is my category of post mate. I must say you have compiled good data about shelf life enhancing agents that are used in packaged food.

I will add 1 point here that these packed foods are studied for their keeping quality and shelf life for different parameters. In this way we get those expiry dates of packed products.

My general rule of them - if it's made in a factory and not natural, don't eat it. You should only be eating lean meats, oats, fruits, and vegetables. Everything else is toxic garbage. Just my two cents.

This really a nice post, I get to know things about package foods but I will still go for package because it's very easy to start with unlike the unprocessed ones, u have cut, wash, and steam before use

Nice post, Nice comments
Please guys follow back IMG-20180118-WA0013.jpg

I’m scared to eat a lot of processed or canned food. Our lives are so busy we go for convenience but that can prove to be dangerous to our health.

Unfortunately chemical food is the best!

It sure lasts long!

There are Chemicals in nearly everything we eat today very hard to find food with out any chemicals in them.. unless you grown you own.. but then the soil will still have chemicals in it, so you can't win

Most attractive you mean ?

Taste I mean 😍

You should try organic and see if there is a difference for you.
I find that there is a huge difference in taste.
Nutrition wish organic is way better.
Sometimes wen you eat to much sugar you cant feel the difference in taste so try cutting out the sweets and then try again.

I really do have to disagree with that rhubarb. Every processed meal I have ever tried (I used to eat a lot when I worked long hours and before I became a healthier human being) tasted so so poor. I am now gluten free, soya free vegan and I make all my own meals from scratch...All my biscuits, cakes, I even make my own milk, cream, sauces etc and they taste FRESH!!!!!! and tasty ;) There is nothing like fresh food.

I agree. There is nothing like fresh food! Fresh food is delicious and it doesn't make you feel weighed down like processed food does.

@adsactly @ponmile Great Article, very detailed and informative. Speacially interesting is the part about sodium nitrites, in fact it is estimated that Each 50-gram (1.8-ounce) portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent. (1.) This foods are definitely tasty but are by no means good to our bodies and detrimental to our health. As always moderation is key. Thanks for clarifying @rhubarb


I would also have to disagree here - maybe your first few meals might not taste as good however once you start eating real food that will change. The only reason why the other food seems to taste better is because of the chemicals & sugars etc. I've previously thought those foods tasted better and changed my eating habits to natural healthier food & I can promise you it tastes MUCH better

So pretty much everything you buy in a modern supermarket is designed to slowly poison and sicken you?

Yes :( Some purposely, some for profit, some are toxic because they need to travel and be stored and suppliers want them to 'look' fresh.Unless you eat organic, you think you are eating lovely healthy fresh veg and fruit and you are consuming a big list of pesticides. Apples are the number one culprit containing several different toxic substances. If you can only afford one item to be organic, choose your apples!! Most foods created from wheat/gluten are covered in Glysophate...This is the toxic shit storm that causes issues like wheat intolerance, IBS, Coeliac and Leaky gut and other immune disorders. Enough to make you cry isn't it. I grow my own but even that I wash in ACV before eating because of the geo engineering going on.

We want easy food i guess

I'm starting to believe a popular saying that if you cannot read the ingredients' names, it's probably unnatural and bad for your health. Some additives and sugars have become very commom that I have already memorized their spelling though. Familiarity is no longer an assurance that an ingredient is safe since for example, I've already seen 'maltodextrin' a lot. is good that you know..

Its a good general rule for the average consumer

The food itself is 100% chemical. Carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals - all chemicals.

If you see allyl isothiocyanate in the ingredient list would you be concerned? That’s the “hot” flavour in horseradish, mustard and wasabi. Remove that and you have no taste at all. Alpha-tocopherol? That’s the strongest of several forms of tocopherol that you may know as "vitamin E" and found naturally in a variety of whole grains. Folic acid, niacin, nicotinamide, ascorbic acid, beta-carotine, - these are all essential vitamins. So far, these materials already exist in the food. Salt is frequently added (sometimes a bit too much), and sucrose, maltose, glucose, fructose are all sugars (we are worried about too much sugar).

We add colors of course because nobody would buy grey smarties or M&Ms, and we sometimes add preservatives such as potassium sorbate, citric acid, and vinegar. Sodium benzoate is a generally-recognized-as-safe preservative that prevents bacterial growth and also seems to be therapeutic for several conditions.

Yes, there has to be a sense of nuance in the way we denounce things. To roundly condemn anything chemical (which is everything) weakens the position to criticize modern food production.

The food itself is 100% chemical. Carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals - all chemicals.

They are natural chemicals if we think about it. Those mentioned chemicals are those made by man chemicals.

Good addition, all these vitamins you have mentioned have natural sources however most manufacturing companies use the lab made versions... Of course some natural preservatives can be harmful in large quantity too for example too much salt isn't good....too much of these additives generally are bad. Additives are added to improve the food substance like you have stated but they are still chemicals..

This is why you have to know the difference between naturally occurring chemicals and the man made toxic chemicals that Monsanto so kindly introduced to our food chain. We must learn not be afraid of the names of natural chemicals. Learn to know the difference. Knowledge is power. :)

@ponmile @adsactly Two years ago I started really learning about the dangers of some of the food we eat, which you normally wouldn't consider being bad food. Without getting too much into it, as your article is excellent and very informative, I focused on sugar... wow... It is insane how much sugar we consume without realising it.
Word play is the biggest enemy of the human diet... "Low fat" = high sugar... simple. what about "Organic" ? or, "no added sugar"? All of this is word play to make our simple minds believe that what we are consuming is safe... "organic baby food" still contained 36.4% sugar, despite it being organic and no added sugar. Condensed fruits are JUST as bad, if not WORSE than refined sugar...
For example, juicing your fruits and removing the fibre. You can juice 20 or 30 oranges, without the fibre, and pretty easily drink that in 1 sitting. But if you try to eat 20 or 30 oranges, forget it... Your body says, "We have enough fibre, stop being hungry". THERE IS A VERY GOOD REASON FOR THIS!!!!! Our body understands the dangers of high sugar intake, so it stops us from consuming more. Once we remove the fibre, its just another fluid so our body doesn't stop us from being hungry...
As a result of juiced fruits, more people are becoming diabetics, and ironically they think they're being healthier by having juiced fruits. It's very sad :( You make an attempt to be healthy, and the word play makes you even more sick.... This SICKENS me! Where is the trust!!!!!

Uuugghh sorry, ill stop now, I can go on for hours... And this is only sugar...

I never really add importance to the ingredients used in making the foods I buy. What I take great care about what is put in to it are the drugs I take. It's just kind of funny and I don't know why I'm like that.

That aside, I really love your outline of the effects of the chemicals included in canned and other forms of preserved foods under the cover name "preservatives" and colourants and somehow (just somehow) I feel it is where majority of food related health issues originate (including food poisoning-correct me if I'm wrong).

I hope to take heed to the words in this post and always analyze the contents of whatever food I buy just to be sure I live a healthy life.

Thank you

Good write up. But I think you made it more complicated, then it actually is. Everything bought in a store has a shelf life because it has preservatives. If they claim that they don't, then there is going to be hydrogenized agent mixed in.

Nutrition is on the same level as religion. It doesnt matter what the argument is, people will not deviate from their beliefs.

Bottom line is this, if you buy it from the store, it was made to endure a lengthy packaging and delivery time, with a shelf life. If you werent there to cultivate the food that you are going to purchase, then you dont have any idea of the process it took for that product to be sold.

Yes, this is definitely a grey area. Many times preservatives are an innocuous as an excess of salt, which many people are wary of, but does not pose a particular health risk when used in moderation. There are other items that have been pumped full of preservatives to last years when they should only rightfully last for weeks. These are the things that I'm especially wary of.

good commnt :)
look at this if u like'it upvote or comment , thank you :):)

It is not complicated, it is exactly as you have said it. Chemicals in form of preservatives are added to packaged foods to extend shelflife. These chemicals in large quantities pose a threat to the body system. So reduce your intake of packaged foods...

Upvoted....Good reply!!

The expression "Don't panic, it's organic." best suits response to this article. Processed and fast foods are really a bane in human health. The preservatives or enhancers, when stand alone, may not do harm but combine it with the natural compounds of the base product produces chemical reactions that would deem it harmful. This is not to mention the processes that may occur such as oxidation and many more.

The fast food industry is a booming business and investors/businessmen focus on profit like 90% of the time. They won't care if in the long run their product can harm. They care about mass production, revenue and lower costs all at the expense of quality. I mean, as long as it is delicious, it is marketable.

It was nice decades back or the life in provinces when consumption is on freshly-picked, delivered or acquired food. People go to the wet market to buy these natural ingredients. Since it won't be quite feasible to bring back these lifestyles, why not employ gardening, homesteading, vertical farming or hydroponics? This way we can reduce purchase of processed foods.

If these harmful foods can't really be avoided, it would be better to have a regular intake of cleansers. I would advise fresh coconut juice or water(and lots of them). They can at least flush the chemicals in these preservatives or enhancers. Unfortunately, it would be not applicable to fat soluble ones.

We only have one life and it matters what types of food we eat. Either we eat healthy and live longer or enjoy satisfying your cravings but shorten your lifespan. Unlike foods, there is no option for preservatives in LIFE. You may say medical machines but do you even define that as living? I don't think so. The choice is yours.

For sure. To an extent, I don't blame them. I believe in choice and personal responsibility. There was a point in time where it would have been nearly impossible to find a totally healthy diet, but I think now people have options, and I don't think it's up to fast food companies to police what people eat. They have to be held accountable to be transparent about what's in their food though. People have to be able to make informed decisions.

Great article. Thank you for posting it - awareness is definitely the first step to making changes in ourselves. Our society is absolutely killing itself with "convenience". You can see so much evidence of this in the U.S. with increased obesity in adults and children. Increased occurrence of diabetes and many other diseases that simply were not as big of a problem before the mass industrialization of processed foods began. It's a hard habit to break away from so much of this stuff because we are hardwired to like the convenience, look and taste of many of these things. As with all things, in moderation, most of these are not overly harmful in small quantities, but since society consumes so much of it, we begin to see the problems in the mass effect (video game joke inserted here :) ). Thanks again for the article.

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