Commonly used harmful preservatives in the Food Industry
FSSAI makes the rules and lays down standards to regulate the manufacturing, storage, and distribution of food, for consumption in India. The packaged food industry uses preservatives and additives approved by the FSSAI in the quantities approved by the government. But that does not mean that those chemicals are safe for the human body in the long run. When taken in moderation, the effects are minimal to nil but with time the side effects and harmful health effects start to show up.
In ancient India preservatives like salt, sugar and citrus fruit extracts were used to increase the shelf life of products. When consumed in a controlled manner these food products, like pickles, actually helped the body. As time went on, the fast food culture started taking the lead, companies started adding artificial preservatives to increase the shelf life of the products, to make them more appealing to the eyes and to the taste buds.
Some of the commonly used food chemicals in India are
- Benzoic acid – Its salt is used to adjust food pH and inhibits microbial growth. If consumed without control it is shown to cause irritation and allergies in some people. It is also shown to cause hyperactivity in children with ADHD.
- High fructose corn syrup – Improved stability and sweetness when compared to its expensive competitor sucrose, is what made it a better artificial sweetener alternative. This liquid sweetener is shown to increase bad cholesterol levels and promotes obesity and diabetes.
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG) – A flavor enhancer, an excitotoxin, works by triggering the brain to produce an excess quantity of dopamine. Excessive consumption of MSG leads to cell damage.
- Diacetyl – While imparting a buttery flavor to your food, this chemical can damage your lungs.
- Sodium benzoate – used as an antimicrobial agent in the baking industry this chemical increases your risks of inflammation, oxidative stress, allergies and obesity.
- Color additives – found commonly in candies and edibles for kids, these are usually petroleum derived and are found to be carcinogenic.
Hormones and antibodies are injected in animals raised for stock, milk or other animal products. These artificial chemicals enter our body when we eat the meat of animals cultured under the influence.
Chemicals like Potassium bromide are used in bread as flour enhancer and are regarded as carcinogenic in nature, so are banned by FSSAI.
Antioxidants like BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole 320) and BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene 321) are listed as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” by WHO but are still used in margarines, spreads and salad dressings.
Consistent research on making tastier packaged food that is easy on the wallet and lasts longer is going on. For doing so more chemicals might get added to the list. Making the switch to a plant based organic diet now would help your body function better. It would save you from problems caused due to such additives and help you lead a healthier, better, disease free life.