What Top Ten Food Additives Should You Avoid?

In the early 90’s, after the birth of my daughter, I began to read food labels.  I decided that I wanted to eat  better for myself and my family.  I had a horrific diet and it showed up in my health and well being. I thought to myself –if I wanted to be around to see my grandchildren I better get my act together.

I created a workshop titled Healthy Choices For Children based on my own self exploration and discovery.  It took me two years to switch my pantry and clean up my habits.

The list below is an information sheet that was used as a basis for discussion. It is all referenced from a book that inspired me.

Decades later, and to my horror,  much of these food additives still exist; saccharin is pervasive in toothpaste and gum, maraschino cherry supplies have yet to run out, aspartame is a horrific addiction issue for many. Blue foods has had a recent resurgence.

The fact is these additives are exactly that – additives – they are not necessary or nutritionally valuable for us to eat.

Sourced from: Diet for a Poisoned Planet – How to choose safe foods for you and your family. (1990) by David Steinman

Read about his recent campaign about the concerns of 1-4 Dioxane

Top Ten Food Additives to Avoid:

1. Aspartame

Also known as NutraSweet or Equal. Used as a sweetener. See methanol poisoning – page 190

Found in: Diet Pop, table top sweeteners, cereal, breathmints, pudding, jello, kool-aid, ice tea, chewable vitamins, gum, toothpaste and more….


Preservative- keeps foods from changing color, changing flavor or becoming rancid. Effects the neurological system of the brain, alters behavior and has potential to cause cancer

Found in: Potato chips, gum, cereal, frozen sausages, enriched rice, lard, shortening, candy, jello

3. Blue #1 and Blue #2

Often not listed on the label

Banned in Norway, Finland and France

May cause chromosomal damage

Found in: candy, cereal, soft drinks, sports drinks and pet foods

4. BVO ( Brominated Vegetable Oil)

Used as an emulsifier and as a clouding agent

Bromate the main ingredient is a poison

Traces can be found in human fat tissue

Found in: orange pop, sports drinks
5. Citrus Red #2

Used to color skins of Florida oranges

May cause cancer and chromosomal damage

FDA has recommended a ban
6. MSG ( monosodium glutamate )

A food flavor enhancer that effects the person ingesting that food. Common symptom is headaches other symptoms include: flushing of the skin, tightness of the chest, heart palpatations and nausea. Can trigger allergic or asthmatic reactions. Also found in two other commonly used additives hydrolyzed vegetable or plant protein and autolyzed yeast.

Found in: chinese food ( Chinese Restaurant Syndrome ) many snacks, chips, cookies, seasonings, most Campbell Soup products, frozen dinners , lunch meats and more

7. Red dye # 3 (also Red #40 – a more current dye)

Banned in 1990 after 8 years of debate from use in many foods and cosmetics. This dye continues to be on the market until supplies run out! Has been proven to cause thyroid cancer and chromosomal damage in laboratory animals, may also interfere with brain-nerve transmission

Found in: fruit cocktail, maraschino cherries, cherry pie mix, ice cream, candy, bakery products and more! Red #40 is suspected of being a carcinogen
8. Saccharin

Ten years after the FDA proposed banning, saccharin is still on the market. Studies in Canada confirmed what American studies have suggested: saccharin poses a significant risk of cancer for humans.

Found in: soft drinks, gum and toothpaste
9. Sodium Nitrate

Prevents spoilage that could lead to botulism and to retain color in meats. Nitrates can form cancer causing compounds in the gastrointestinal tract. Food with Nitrates should always be ingested with vitamin C rich foods. Often food companies will add vitamin C to nitrate cured foods.

Found in: cured meats such as bacon, ham and luncheon meat, hot dogs, anything smoked.
10. Yellow #6

Banned in Norway and Sweden

Increases the number of kidney and adrenal gland tumors in laboratory animals, may cause chromosomal damage.

Found in: American cheese, macaroni and cheese, candy and carbonated beverages, lemonade and more!

toxic flickr image

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6 Responses to What Top Ten Food Additives Should You Avoid?

  1. Susan P. says:

    It’s hard to seem normal with some friends because I do watch the additives in my familiy’s diet. Unfortunately people think I am picky and hyper-concerned. These additives are invisible and slow moving, so quite a few people don’t take them seriously.

  2. Karen Mathis says:

    On behalf of the Florida Department of Citrus,please allow me to share further information.

    Citrus Red No. 2 is often confused with FD&C Red No. 2 (also known as Amaranth). The use of FD&C Red No. 2 (Amaranth)was banned by the FDA as a suspected carcinogen. Citrus Red No. 2 is NOT the same dye as FD&C Red No. 2, and is considered a ‘food-safe’ material when used as regulated.

    Citrus Red No.2 is sparingly utilized in Florida for consistent coloring of oranges and tangerines, most commonly in the fall of the year. It may only be used at very low concentrations. Citrus Red No. 2 is a surface colorant that does not penetrate through the peel to the flesh or juice of citrus. The development of consistent orange peel color is dependent on the weather and requires a series of colder nights which may not occur in Florida in the early fall.

    For more information about citrus, please visit http://www.FloridaJuice.com.


    Karen Mathis
    Florida Department of Citrus

    • My resource states very clearly on page 193 that Citrus Red # 2 – not Fd&C Red No 2 , is a probable carcinogen and may cause chromosomal damage and has been recommended to ban by the FDA, he also says experts contend that this compound does not migrate from the skin to the pulp.

      He advocates organics, as do I

      It’s my opinion that any dye used sparingly or not is still too much. I do not feel the color if the orange peel makes or breaks my experience of an orange. I feel Mr Steinman is an impeccable resource.

      • R Vogt says:

        “It’s my opinion that any dye used sparingly or not is still too much. I do not feel the color if the orange peel makes or breaks my experience of an orange.”

        I very much agree.!!

  3. Pingback: The Morning Of A Typical ADD Child | Best Of Mother Earth

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