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Week 1 - Part 5 - What Are Additives & Why Are They In Our Food?

There are loads of chemicals added to all sorts of food that we eat, but what exactly are all these chemicals and more importantly what do they all mean?

Basically, food additives are substances added to foods to enhance their taste, texture or appearance.  These additives are generally added when making (or processing) the foods.

There are many different names for food additives and this is where it gets tricky.  Companies have become very good at hiding things in our foods, at levels which are 'deemed safe', or as Americans put it - Generally Recognised As Safe (GRAS). We're not sure about you, but we are not comfortable eating something that 'might' be safe - we'd like to know that it IS safe.

The Difference Between Direct And Indirect Additives


"Direct" food additives are added during processing for a few different reasons.  They may be there to add nutrients, or to help the food stay fresh. They are also used to make food more appealing to eat.

But think about this - why does the food you eat need to have nutrients added to it in the first place?? Is this because all the original nutrients have all been stripped out during the processing phase? 

Take white bread as an example - Bread often has the claim "added vitamins and minerals" but why?  It's because all the good stuff (the original vitamins and minerals etc) have been stripped out during the processing phase of the flour and then to make it more appealing to eat they add 'the good stuff' back into it.....hmmm makes you think, doesn't it!!

Now don’t get us wrong, we don't want to scare the wits out of you. Not all additives are considered harmful.  For example: herbs or spices, these add flavour to foods, vinegar is used for pickling foods, salt has been used for 100s of years to preserve meats and citric acid (E330) has no known issues. Whilst we don't recommend eating an abundance of salt and vinegar etc, it is good to know that not all numbers are considered 'bad'.


"Indirect" food additives are substances that find their way into our foods after the food has been canned, stored or packaged.  They have not been placed in the food on purpose.  Sometimes minute amounts of packaging substances are found as trace elements in processed foods.

The scary thing about indirect additives is that there is no warning label, they are not listed on the ingredients list and you have no real way of knowing if you are eating them or not.  The only real way to stop eating these types of additives is reduce the amount of tinned and packaged food that you eat.

We only mention indirect food additives to be thorough, while we would love to be able to avoid these also, we understand that the majority of households are unable to prepare all their food from scratch. This is one of the major reasons why we developed this course for you. Avoiding the direct ones is a massive step in the right direction. 

It's important to also note that indirect additives are present in very, very minimal amounts.

Let's Talk Food Additives with Bill Statham from The Chemical Maze

Today Jo & Tracey talk with Bill Statham from The Chemical Maze.  Bill has created an amazing App called The Chemical Maze which we HIGHLY RECOMMEND.  In fact we'd like you to download it right now.

Bill is a researcher and writer with an interest in health education and a commitment to making a positive difference to the health of people and the environment.  His work is incredible and he's helping thousands of lives from the development of his App and the books he's sold.


Download The Chemical Maze App on iTunes or Google Play.


Check out the website for lots of information and to purchase this amazing book.  

Watched Bills Interview?

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