Preservatives, e-numbers, food additives… the list of chemical ingredients found on food labels is often very long and complicated to understand. However there are some additives you really need to watch out for. Be careful as certain additives in ready-made and frozen food products are thought to lead to the development of some cancers.
Aspartame is a sweetener often found in food products. Although its role in developing cancer may not be widely known, it is still considered to be very controversial. In 2013, the European Food Safety Authority noted that aspartame was not dangerous for your health if you didn’t exceed a daily intake of 40 mg per kilo of body weight.
Nevertheless, 60 million-strong consumer authority warns of the inflammatory risks of aspartame. What’s more aspartame also has a negative effect on the bacteria in the digestive tract which prevents it from functioning properly.
What food products contain aspartame? Watch out for fizzy drinks, processed desserts, sweets, chewing gums and even low-calorie or slimming food products.
2. Titanium dioxide
Titanium dioxide, also known as E171, is an additive found in food and cosmetic products. The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (Anses) classes E171 as a suspected carcinogenic substance if ingested.
However, the French government has announced an intention to ban the use of E171 in food products before the end of 2018. Food producers signed an act on the 19 June 2018 to introduce the ban of Titanium dioxide by the end of 2019 at the latest.
What food products contain Titanium dioxide? Sweets, processed cakes and ready-made meals
3. Sodium and Potassium nitrates
Sodium nitrate (E251) and potassium nitrate (E252) are widely recognised as preservatives. In 2015 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) classed both preservatives as possible carcinogenic substances.
What food products contain Sodium and Potassium nitrates? Industrial processed meat and cured meats. According to the IARC each portion of 50g of processed meat eaten per day increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.
4. Potassium and Sodium Nitrites
Potassium nitrite (E249) and Sodium nitrite (E250) are both additives. They are used to colour and preserve food products as well as to prevent the spread of pathogenic bacteria. According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) the nitrites found in some food products create a group of compounds known as nitrosamines, some of which are carcinogenic.
What food products contain Potassium and Sodium nitrites? Just like nitrates, nitrites can be found in industrial processed meats and cured meats.
5. E-numbers E150c and E150d
E150c (caramel ammoniacal) and E150d (ammonium sulphite caramel) are synthetic colourings. They are meant to contain high levels of 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI) which is known for it’s carcinogenic properties. Just like aspartame, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has determined an acceptable daily intake.
- 300 mg per kilo of body weight per day is recommended for the caramel colourings E150a, E150b, E150c and E150d
- 100 mg per kilo of body weight per day for the colouring E150c
What food products contain E-numbers E150c and E150d? These two colourings can be found in fizzy drinks, sweets, ready-made soups, salad dressings and beer.
6. Cellulose gum
Watch out for E466, carboxymethylcellulose or cellulose gum written on any food packaging. These three terminologies are used for the same texturing agent which is thought to be carcinogenic.
What food products contain Cellulose Gum? The majority of creamy desserts, low-calorie slimming meals with cream, ice creams, mayonnaise, salad dressings, processed desserts.
7. Acesulfame K
Acesulfame K or acesulfame potassium, often called E950, is a very strong sweetener. It is believed that this sweeter is a carcinogenic ingredient which increases the risk of developing tumors or type 2 diabetes.
What food products contain Acesulfame K? Ice creams, sugary drinks (diluting juice, soda, fruit juices…), jams, pastries, cereal bars, and even chewing gum.
Acrylamide is known as a proven carcinogenic compound for animals and as a possible carcinogen for humans according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
What food products contain acrylamide? Chips, coffee, sugary biscuits, crisps