What are the side effects of E171 (tio2), E102 (tartrazine) and E924? Is it safe to add titanium dioxide and tartrazine in food? Between sodium benzoate, nitrates, preservatives and additives, processed food today contains many elements that do more harm than good. In this article we are going to reveal what exactly hides in your food and why it’s banned in other countries.
In the era of processed foods and the inclusion of preservatives, additives and food dyes in most of our meals, the old slogan “you are what you eat” starts to sound disturbing. Sure enough, the most common diseases of today – diabetes, cancer and heart ailments, depression and loss of memory – are all connected to eating habits and nutrition. Most of the additives like the herbs and spices, the addition of salt to preserve meat are artificial substances or chemicals. When buying food we have to be able to interpret the labels in order to choose products which won’t harm our health.
There are 5 main functions of additives in food: maintaining the consistency of the product (emulsifiers and various agents), improvement and protection of the nutritious value, preservation of the healthy ingredients of the product, regulation of acidity and alkalinity and the growth and attainment of a specific color and taste.
Preservatives can be natural or artificial (chemical) substances. There are safe or natural preservatives (salt, vinegar and vitamins) which successfully remove bacteria and don’t cause any health issues. Food that you buy which is packed in tin cans, cardboard packages or plastics must be checked before consumption because the substances which are commonly used in these foods are most often synthetic.
Pay special attention to:
High fructose syrups – Commonly found in drinks, cornflakes and processed food. They function as sweeteners and have many negative side effects like obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and fatty liver.
Trans fats – Most commonly produced as a result of hydrogenation of polyunsaturated fatty acids when vegetable oils are processed into margarines and cooking oils by addition of hydrogen atoms. These substances can be found in processed food like pies, sweets, fast food and fried food. They can have unwelcomed effects on your body like heart diseases, increase of trans fats in your body, increase of bad cholesterol and lowering of good cholesterol. Frequent consumption can increase the risk of cancer.
MSG (monosodium glutamate) – these substances have the role of flavor enhancers and can be normally found in processed meat, fish, sauces, soups and chips. Negative side effects include increase of blood pressure and instigation of palpitations. There has been some controversy over MSG as a trigger for asthma and migraine headache exacerbations, however there has been no clear connection in clinical research up to now.
Synthetic food dyes – There are 9 types of synthetic, artificial food dyes, most commonly used in drinks and sweets. Natural food dyes are not required to be certified, although some of them cause unwanted side effects. One example is tartrazine (E102), known to cause hyperactivity in children.
Side effects of E171 (tio2), E102 Tartrazine and E924 Potassium Bromate
E102 Tartrazine – is a synthetic yellow azo dye found in processed food and drinks, especially colored drinks, fruit squash, ice cream, sauces, jams, jelly, sweets, chewing gum etc., and in shells of medicinal capsules. Tartrazine is thought to cause the most severe allergic reaction of all azo dyes and particularly susceptible are those with aspirin intolerance and asthmatics. Other known side effects include migraine, blurred vision, rhinitis, itching and purple skin patches.
In conjunction with E210 (Benzoic acid) it is widely thought to cause hyperactivity in children, or at least have a link between E102 and hyperactive behavioral disorders in children. New studies also reveal it accelerates oxidative stress, altering the structure and biochemical profiles in hepatic and renal tissues. This latest study from 2017 reveals many potential health risks and calls for strictly limiting its intake, especially in foods consumed by children. Even though widely used around the world in processed foods, the use of E102 is banned by law in Norway and Austria.
E171 Titanium dioxide (tio2) – a natural white mineral, extracted as iron-black, heavy, metallic oxide mineral composed of iron and titanium oxide. Accounting to 70% of the total production volume of pigments worldwide, E171 is widely used – from mozzarella cheeses and horseradish creams and sauces to toothpaste (as the whitening agent) and white paint. Although no side effects of E171 have been clearly established, it is thought to have the potential to be damaging for our health with many reports of health risks. Allergy to topical application has been confirmed.
Titanium dioxide dust when inhaled has been classified as IARC Group 2B carcinogen, meaning it is possibly carcinogenic to humans. Studies have further found titanium dioxide nanoparticles to cause inflammatory response and genetic damage in mice. There is also some evidence that the rare yellow nail syndrome might be caused by titanium. While studies from the 60s and 70s show no side effects of E171, modern studies are much more alarming. This study from 2014 examines the concentration levels and toxicity of E171, especially in the spleen, liver and kidneys and calls government agencies for immediate reassessment of E171 (tio2) as a human food additive.
The need for more research is clear as there is still considerable uncertainty over the additive. In March, 2015, Dunkin’ Donuts declared it is dropping titanium dioxide from its powdered sugar donuts after public pressure. E171 is currently banned in Germany.
E924 Potassium bromate – this substance is contained in baked and roasted food, medicine and toothpastes and serves as a synthetic dye. In the United States it is further used as a flour improver and in the bread-making process. E924 is classified as a Group 2B carcinogen (possibly carcinogenic to humans) by the International Agency for Research of Cancer. Although no side effects are evident in animals fed with bread based diet from flour treated with potassium bromate, it has been found to be carcinogenic in rats and nephrotoxic in both man and animals when fed orally.
This study from the 90s establishes potassium bromate as complete carcinogen, having both initiating and promoting activities for the development of renal cell tumors. E924 has been banned from use in food products in the European Union, Canada, China, Argentina, Brazil, South Korea, Peru and other counties. In the United States, potassium bromate is not banned, but the FDA has urged bakers to voluntarily stop using it since 1991.
E – in numbers
|E300-399||antioxidants and acidity regulators|
|E400-499||thickeners, stabilizers and emulsifiers|
|E500-599||acidity regulators and anti-caking agents|
|E900-999||glazing agents and sweeteners|