Why you should avoid additives?

Additives are commonly added to food, cosmetic, and other products to enhance their appearance, texture, taste, and shelf life. While some additives are safe, others can be harmful to your health, particularly if consumed in large amounts or over an extended period.

Here are some reasons why you should avoid additives:

  1. Health concerns: Some additives are linked to health problems such as allergies, asthma, hyperactivity, and even cancer. For example, certain food colourings, such as Red (124) and Yellow (102,122), have been associated with hyperactivity in children.
  2. Uncertainty: Many additives have not been adequately tested for their long-term effects on human health, and their safety is often assumed based on limited studies or data from animal experiments.
  3. Synthetic origin: Most additives are synthetic, meaning they are made in a laboratory and not found in nature. As such, our bodies may not be able to metabolise them effectively, leading to potential adverse reactions.
  4. Masking poor quality: Some additives, such as artificial flavours and sweeteners, are used to mask the poor quality of the underlying ingredients, which can be unhealthy and lacking in nutrients.
  5. Overconsumption: The widespread use of additives in processed foods and other products means that we are often exposed to them in large amounts, leading to potential overconsumption and related health risks.

Overall, while some additives may be safe in moderation, it is best to avoid them as much as possible and focus on consuming whole, natural foods that are free of added chemicals and preservatives.

Here are some examples of commonly used food additives approved by FSANZ in Australia:

  • Emulsifiers and stabilizers, such as carrageenan (407), soy lecithin (322), and xanthan gum (415).
  • Preservatives, such as sodium benzoate (211), potassium sorbate (202), and sulphur dioxide (220).
  • Antioxidants, such as butylated hydroxyanisole (320)
  • Sweeteners, such as aspartame (951), saccharin (954), and steviol glycosides (960)
  • Flavours, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG, 621) and artificial flavourings.
  • Colours, such as tartrazine (yellow) and sunset yellow (orange).



There are several common additives that people may choose to avoid in their food for various reasons. Here are some of the most avoided additives:

  1. Artificial sweeteners - such as aspartame (951), Acesulfame potassium (950) and sucralose (955), which are used as sugar substitutes in many processed foods and drinks.
  2. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) - a flavour enhancer commonly used in Asian cuisine and processed foods, which can cause headaches, flushing, and other adverse reactions in some people.
  3. Artificial colours - such as Red 124, Yellow 102 & 122, and Blue 133, which are often added to processed foods and drinks to enhance their appearance but can cause hyperactivity and other negative effects in some people.
  4. Sodium nitrate and nitrite - preservatives commonly used in processed meats, which have been linked to an increased risk of cancer. 

In conclusion, small amounts of additives can add up overtime, so it is important to be aware that additives that can be detrimental to your health. Be sure to read the label of the products you buy, and if possible, choose products that are free from harmful additives or have better ingredients. By doing so, you can ensure that you are making healthy choices for yourself and your family.


  1. Food Standards Australia New Zealand - Additives https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/additives/Pages/default.aspx
  2. Cancer Council Australia - Food Additives and Cancer Risk https://www.cancer.org.au/health-professionals/position-statements/nutrition/food-additives-and-cancer-risk
  3. Australian Government Department of Health - Food Additives https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/foodsecretariat-additives-1


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