Food and Nutrition

Did you know about the top 10 additives in foods that you might want to avoid in your child’s diet?

Anurima
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Did you know about the top 10 additives in foods that you might want to avoid in your childs diet

On one of my recent visits to the supermarket, I realized that my cart had more processed food in it than the quantity I had planned to take. I quickly replaced some of the products back on to their respective shelves, but hesitated with most of them. I soon realized how dependant I was on processed food and wondered how it could be affecting my children’s health. It is almost impossible to avoid using processed foods today mostly due to the convenience and taste they provide. Our kitchens are stacked with food items from ketchups, to biscuits, pickles, fruit juices. Before I use any of the processed foods, I tend to read the label and not surprisingly, do not understand what most of the ingredients mean or where they come from. On a deeper thought, I realised that most of these ‘ready’ foods are targeted at children and more often than not perhaps, we do not realise the value of actual content that we may be indulging our children with and its effect on their mental and physical health. 

The Important question that arose in my mind was - Could the additives in the foods cause a child to behave differently?

Why do foods contain preservatives or additives? And, do these additives add any value to the food?

Food additives have been used for centuries to add colour, flavour and prolong shelf life. Nowadays, foods are processed to ease packaging and storage. But do the additives add any value to the food? Preservation of food has come a long way from simple methods such as salting, smoking and pickling. Now most packed foods contain artificial colours and flavours, which if consumed on a regular basis, could have adverse effect on the health and NO, these additives do not enhance the value of the foods in any way…

Which are the common additives and preservatives used?

Food additives are number coded for easier identification. These additives are recognized internationally- INS or International Numbering System( Some of the additives are banned in some countries).

The following are the categories:

• INS 100 - 199 : Colours

• INS 200 - 299: Preservatives

• INS 300 - 399: Acidity regulators, Anti Oxidants and Mineral Salts

• INS 400 – 499: Thickeners, Stabilizers and Emulsifiers

• INS 500 – 599 : pH regulators and Anti Caking agents

• INS 600 – 699 : Flavour Enhancers

• INS 700 – 799: Antibiotics

• INS 900 – 999: Miscellaneous (Improving agents, foaming gases, waxes etc)

• INS 1100 – 1599 : Additional chemicals (new chemicals) Some of the additives are naturally extracted and are considered safe if consumed.

On the other hand, some additives are chemical based and are banned in a few countries.

The 10 additives one may want to avoid:

1. ARTIFICIAL SWEETNERS: Aspartame (INS 951) found commonly in sweeteners such as Sugarfree and Equal is usually added in ‘diet’ or ‘sugar free’ products. Consumption of Aspartame in moderation (amount found in medication) is considered safe for children. However, diet drinks contain twice the recommended amount and is considered unsafe for children.

Found in: Diet carbonated drinks (Coke Zero, Diet Pepsi, Sugar free gums, Sugar free desserts and jello.

2. CORN SYRUP: This is a highly refined artificial sweetener found in almost all processed foods. They add on the weight faster than any other ingredient, increases the chances of diabetes.

Found in: Bread, Canned Vegetables, Candies and flavoured Yoghurt.

3. MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE (MSG/ INS621): MSG is found in soups, salad dressings, chips and some frozen food. Regular consumption of MSG may cause eye damage, fatigue, headaches and obesity among other conditions.

Found in: Chinese food, chips, cookies, some packaged frozen food.

4. BUTALATED HYDROXYANISOLE (BHA) and BUTALATED HYDROZYTTOLUENE (BHT) INS320: This preservative is added to prevent food from changing colour, flavour or getting rancid.

Found in: Potato Chips, Cereals, Chewing Gum, Candies

5. POTASSIUM NITRITE (INS249): Used as preservatives mostly for meat. They add the red colour to meat, thus even old, dried meat can look fresh and healthy with the addition of this preservative. This preservative should not be present in food products for infants and young children.

Found in: Hotdogs, Bacon, Cured Meat, Smoked Fish and any type of processed meat.

6. SODIUM SULFITE (INS221): Found in most processed foods, this preservative is known to cause breathing problems such as asthma.

Found in: Dried Fruits

7. TRANS FAT: Trans Fat is among the most dangerous preservative. It is used to prolong shelf life of products and commonly found in deep fried fast foods, food made with margarine or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Trans Fat increases the risk of heart diseases. Hence children as young as 3 to 4 years, who consume a steady diet of fast food, ready to fry food, cakes, cookies, candies and microwave popcorns can be expected to get heart diseases earlier than children who rarely consume the above products. This type of fat is an artificial fat and is stiffer and harder than normal fat. This fat can gradually clog the arteries leading to the risk of heart attack and strokes.

Found in: Cakes, cookies, biscuits, popcorns.

8. SULPHUR DIOXIDE (INS220): The most common use of sulphur dioxide is to spray it on fresh fruits and vegetables to prevent it from browning. Long term exposure to this type of preservative may increase the chances of asthma, bronchitis or conductivities. Children who have a predisposition to any of the above conditions should avoid foods with this preservative completely.

Found in: Fruit juices, Dried Fruits, Jaggery.

9. POTASSIUM BROMATE (INS924): This preservative is commonly found in bread as it is used to improve the quality of the flour and allow high rising of the bread. When used is the correct quantity, this oxidising agent gets completely used up in the baking process. However, if too much is added or the bread is not completely baked or not baked at the correct temperature, the residual amount may remain which can be harmful if consumed. This preservative is a known carcinogen. You may avoid breads or baked goods with the term ‘enriched flour’ in their label.

Found in: Breads loafs, Bread Rolls.

10. Common Food Dyes: Artificial food colouring found in soft drinks, popcorn, fruit juices, hot dogs and frozen peas are known to contribute to behavioural problems in children such as hyperactivity or ADHD, trigger allergic reactions, cause asthma and may even lead to a significant reduction in IQ.

The colours that may be avoided completely are:

• Blue #1 and Blue #2 (INS133): Commonly found in candies, cereals and pet foods.

• Red dye #3 and Red dye #40 (INS124): This dye is found in canned cherries, fruit cocktails, ice creams and many bakery products.

• Yellow #6 (INS110) and Yellow Tartrazine (INS102): Found in bakery products, jams, jellies, soft drinks, chewing gums, popcorn and potato chips to name a few.

Ways in which you could minimize or eliminate preservatives in your child’s diet?

Convenience foods have become a way of life now. However, there are ways to minimize or eliminate preservatives from your family’s diet altogether. Here are a few tips:

Learn the names of the most common preservatives: Some additives and preservatives such as citric acid, sulphur dioxide, nitrates and nitrites commonly appear in a wide variety of food. Getting familiar with the names of some of these preservatives will make it easier for you to avoid products containing those preservatives as ingredients.

Go Organic: You may include organic produce to cut out preservatives completely.

Buy fresh produce: Instead of buying frozen peas, buy fresh peas; substitute canned tomatoes and fruits with fresh ones; reduce or eliminate sausages or other prepared meats such as burgers. Doing this will bring a healthy change in the diet of your family and also reduce the time in reading labels.

Choose products with natural preservatives: Natural preservatives have been helping humans preserve food since ancient times.

Some of the commonly used natural preservatives and additives are:

1. Citric Acid found in lemon juice.

2. Acetic Acid found in Vinegar

3. Sugar: Sugar preserves food by absorbing the excess water. Sugar is commonly used to preserve jams, jellies, sweet pickles and marmalade.

4. Salt: Salt also absorbs excess water from the food and helps it stay fresh for longer. Fish and meat are commonly treated with salt to prevent spoilage.

5. Oil: Oil reduces oxidation in food and prevents it from spoiling.

6. Spices: Spices contain antioxidants, which retard the growth of microorganisms by reducing oxidation in the food. The common spices which assist in food preservation are cinnamon, cloves, mustard, saffron etc.

 “We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are.” ~ Adelle Davis

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| Jun 10, 2017

very useful information for developing their respective children. thanks a lot

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| Nov 03, 2015

Very useful information

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| Oct 27, 2015

Thanks a lot for such an important information u r sharing with us..

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| Sep 08, 2015

Thanks a lot for posting such important information

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| Aug 13, 2015

It scares me :( Today's generation's almost 50 to 60 % diet is depend on processed food. Thanks for sharing such information.

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| Aug 12, 2015

Very useful info n thanks for the blog anurima

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| Aug 12, 2015

OMG,what should we eat?

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| Aug 12, 2015

Thanks very informative blog !!

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| Aug 03, 2015

Thanks a lot for posting this great information. I always check the ingredients on the packet of processed food and try them with all home made masalas. I always store homemade roasted coriander powder and cumin powder, when in use add them to make my curries yummy & tasty.

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| Jul 28, 2015

Omg, great amount of research done on food products, thanks a lot for sharing it with us

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| Jul 25, 2015

Hi Can we be sure that ingredients mentioned on the processed food are the real ingredients in the food ? Who actually keeps this check ?

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| Jun 19, 2015

Thanks a lot Arunima for such an informative post.. Can anybody suggest alternative for biscuits??

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| Jun 18, 2015

Thanks a lot for this very helpful information :)

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| May 29, 2015

very informative read :)

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| May 27, 2015

This is terrible. This is why I buy only organic stuff. Glad that there are online portals that supply organic food to our door. www. orgbasket. com

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| May 27, 2015

This is terrible. This is why I buy only organic stuff. Glad that there are online portals that supply organic food to our door.

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| May 15, 2015

Was shocked to see that dried fruits are also sprayed with preservatives. .was giving them regularly to my 2 year old

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| May 15, 2015

Thanks.. truly informative ...!!!

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| May 14, 2015

Thanks you for the article.. Really helpful..

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| May 14, 2015

Excellent article Anurima! Does cerelac also falls into this category.. ?

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| May 13, 2015

very informative. Tku for takiw efforts ! Kudos

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| May 12, 2015

Very informative

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| May 12, 2015

Thanks arunima. very informative

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| May 12, 2015

Nice article .very useful

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| May 12, 2015

Thanks, Arunima......

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| May 12, 2015

Very informative, would like to add n agree that Maggie n their soups have a label saying no added MSG. The products were sent and tested in a lab and not only MSG (monosodium glutamate) but one more harmful element was present which was lead and that to a dangerous level. The ingredients list on Maggie pack never gives a clear picture of what exactly has been used. Thanks Aruna, very good post indeed......

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| May 12, 2015

Hello archana which brand u suggest to buy pasta.. ?

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| May 12, 2015

Very useful information... Thanku dear...

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| May 11, 2015

Good informative blog

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| Apr 27, 2015

Very informative blog !!

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| Apr 27, 2015

Very informative blog!

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| Aug 01, 2014

Thanks for this good informative blog

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| Aug 01, 2014

Thanks for this good informative blog

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| Jun 27, 2014

Thanks a lot Anurima this is very informative.

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| Jun 05, 2014

Very informative article.. in short we should encourage our children to eat the way our grandparents ate.. fresh, seasonal, local and home cooked food.

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| May 13, 2014

very nice and informative article!it should be an eye opener to some who think that packaged food is the order of the day! The FMCG industry and food processing industry is making nice fools of us all by showing glossy ADs and tempting pictures to make children addicted! Always go for home made food. EVen consumption of outside food regularly is a health hazard! even many hotels use colours and artificial flavors which are banned! home food s d way to go parents! give your kids age old forgotten snacks like chikki,peda made of all varieties of dhal, chikki made of groundnut/sesame seeds/khaju and dry fruits halwa etc instead of noodles/pasta. if u want to make pasta,buy whole wheat pasta. it is called "penne" meaning wheat in italian. good brands are available in stores like star bazaar etc.

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| May 13, 2014

hi all

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| May 10, 2014

I read out the article to my two children.... had them shell shocked

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| Apr 30, 2014

Thank you so much for such a informative blog Anurima. Should we not offer these spices - cinnamon, cloves, mustard, saffron to childern?

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| Feb 22, 2014

Very informative blog .... Arunima thank you for sharing

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| Jan 17, 2014

Thank u so much, ur giving very valuble information.

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| Jan 17, 2014

very informative.. thank you so much for sharing.

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| Dec 12, 2013

Thank you all. Yes, this is a very serious topic and we should be completely aware of what our children eat. Convenience and easy food is not necessarily the best choice.

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| Dec 12, 2013

thanks for useful information

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| Nov 11, 2013

Sorry i posted twice by mistake ..this is Mrs Kiran..

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| Nov 11, 2013

Hi ..Thanks a lot for giving such an useful information... really really useful for all those who go for cakes,cookies,biscuits, bread etc... actually my pediatrician told us to stop the above ones in kids as they r harmful.. so from then on i reduced their intake for kids but now i cud know in detail why he said so... Really so Informative.. You cud have done lots of research in this particular area...

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| Nov 11, 2013

Hi ..Thanks a lot for giving such an useful information... really really useful for all those who go for cakes,cookies,biscuits, bread etc... actually my pediatrician told us to stop the above ones in kids as they r harmful.. so from then on i reduced their intake for kids but now i cud know in detail why he said so... Really so Informative.. You cud have done lots of research in this particular area...

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| Nov 09, 2013

Thnx for informing me about all tht ... This will help me alot while buying all such products..

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| Oct 19, 2013

awesum article arunima ...

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| Oct 19, 2013

awesum article arunima ...

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| Oct 09, 2013

Lovely and eye-opener

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| Sep 05, 2013

very informative

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| Sep 04, 2013

Dear Dr. T. Aparna, Maggie noodles certainly falls into this category. You could instead get a packet of plain noodles and make noodles and pasta with homemade ingredients. It is healthier and you can custom make it according to the taste of your children :)

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| Sep 04, 2013

very informative... must read for all mom

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| Sep 03, 2013

Really very good information.

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| Sep 01, 2013

Really superb blog arunima.... very very informative!!

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| Aug 31, 2013

Thanks Arunima. All of us tend to fall into the trap of convenience. Thank you for all your effort in presenting the plethora of information in such concise form.

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| Aug 31, 2013

Does this include noodles and pasta too as these two are liked by children very much

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| Aug 27, 2013

@Renuka, ideally you should read the label before buying processed foods. I have made it a habit to read them :)

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| Aug 27, 2013

@Renuka, ideally you should read the label before buying processed foods. I have made it a habit to read them :)

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| Aug 27, 2013

@Neetu, yes, a lot of research but was very interesting for me too as I got to learn so much more :)

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| Aug 27, 2013

Thank you for the lovely comments. @Bhanumathy, you are so right! We should discourage the use of packaged foods and start by not buying them ourselves. Many people are not aware of the harmful affect some of the additives can cause, especially to children.

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| Aug 27, 2013

thnx soo much... this really helps

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| Aug 22, 2013

Thanks Anurima... very informative and I guess a surprise to quite a few. Now we have a clearer picture. Great article- lovely read, especially when you have infants and kids.

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| Aug 21, 2013

a great article and very helful

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| Aug 21, 2013

Very informative, but can we really remember all these points before taking outside food. Do we have time to go thru the ingredients of every pack??????

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| Aug 20, 2013

Thanks Anurima... Very informative. Inspite of people knowing the above, they go for outside food - processed, ready to eat etc. and laugh at people who like to eat home food. The impact of this kind of food will not be known easily.... We should do something about it.

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| Aug 20, 2013

great work ! extremely informative

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| Aug 19, 2013

Thanks for sharing Anurima.

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| Aug 17, 2013

very very good Anurima, would have taken a lot of research to write such an informative blog. thanks!

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| Aug 17, 2013

Very informative blog !!

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