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Icky and Dangerous Preservatives and Additives

Icky and Dangerous Preservatives and Additives

Preservatives and additives you might like to avoid

Despite the fact that over 300 food additives have been approved for safe use in Australia, many consumers are still concerned about the risks associated with consuming certain preservatives and additives. In some cases this is understandable as some ingredients freely added to Australian foods are banned overseas.

While there are 'legitimate' reasons for adding preservatives and additives to food products, like increasing a food’s shelf life, many consumer advocacy groups regularly issue warnings about particular chemicals used in foods. Here are some of the common warnings.


Calcium propionate (preservative 282), which anecdotal reports link to learning and behavioural problems as well as migraines.

Ammonium sulfate, which is apparently safe when consumed in low levels, but also appears as an ingredient in garden fertiliser. 

L-cysteine is a ‘natural’ product derived from duck feathers and/or human hair. 

Processed meats:

Sodium nitrite (preservative 250) and Sodium nitrate (preservative 251), While both of these ingredients are said to protect against the growth of a certain type of bacteria which causes deadly botulism poisoning, they are also listed as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’ in WHO’S International Agency for Research on Cancer. 

Soft drinks:

Potassium benzoate (preservative 212) combined with additive 300 (and natural vitamin C) can cause the development of benzene, which is an identified carcinogen.

Sodium benzoate doubles is used in many soft drinks, vinegars and juices. This preservative has a double life as rocket fuel.

Wine and dried fruits:

Any preservative that contains sulphur (220-228) can possibly prompt asthma attacks.

Modern packaged foods are difficult to come by without the inclusion of an array of additives and preservatives. If you are looking to remove these chemicals from your diet, the only real way to do so is by eliminating the consumption of processed foods. Stick to raw, natural and organic food products straight from nature. 

Confused by fat, protein and carbohydrate labels

Image: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

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