What are additives?
Additives are chemical substances added to edible products for a number of different properties. There are many types of additives with varying purposes, such as: sweeteners, preservatives, colouring agents, thickening agents, artificial flavourings, emulsifiers, enzymes and many, many more. They can be added when a product is being produced, transported, stored or packaged. Additives are regulated by governing bodies like the Food Standards Agency to ensure they are used safely and in appropriate quantities. Regulations surrounding additives are often updated to reflect current research into their effects and updates to the law.
Are additives bad for us?
There’s a lot of discourse surrounding additives, and whether they’re unhealthy or even dangerous. The truth is, additives are not made equally. Whilst many additives are completely safe to consume, others have research suggesting they may be harmful to our health.
It’s true that there are a number of additives that are used elsewhere in the world but are banned in the UK. These include:
- Red 40- A colouring agent that was banned in the UK due to concerns it can have adverse effects on children.
- Sudan Dyes- Enhances the colour of spices, is a carcinogen.
- Potassium Bromate- Used in the USA to strengthen flour, is banned due to its carcinogenic nature.
- Brominated vegetable oil- Consuming high levels of bromine can cause bromism, which is linked to restlessness, hallucinations, gastrointestinal issues and skin problems.
With other additives, it’s a little more complicated. Aspartame is one of the most commonly used sweeteners in the UK. It is used in a diverse range of products like diet drinks, gum and toothpaste. Recent concerns have been raised about aspartame in relation to blood-related cancers, however significant research since initial studies have struggled to find a link.
Whereas, the flavour enhancer MSG has a particularly bad reputation with little evidence. Many claim that MSG gives them concerning reactions, however research has shown that MSG is only likely to cause short-term reactions to a small number of people with a sensitivity to it. For anyone else, it’s completely safe to consume. Similarly to MSG, there are hundreds of additives that are used frequently and are completely safe for consumption. However, there’s a growing interest in food products without preservatives, due to a demand for products with natural ingredients that are freshly made.
Did you know?:
Whilst the safety of aspartame is being researched for the general population, it is confirmed to be unsafe for people with phenylketonuria. Aspartame contains phenylalanine which people with this rare disorder can’t metabolise.
EZ Hampers and Additives
Whilst many additives are safe and useful to have in food products, our personal preference at EZ Hampers is to stock products that have few to no additives. This ensures all of our gift hampers are filled to the brim with wholesome products with natural flavours and colourings. This can sometimes mean our products have a shorter expiry date than your average supermarket crisps or biscuits, but it also means you can be guaranteed our hamper items are freshly made!
Thinking about ordering a hamper and worried about expiry dates? With any custom order, we can pre-order products with a short sell-by date to make sure they get to the recipients on time. Make sure to also let our team know if you want your hamper to be delivered by a certain date, so we can check each item will be in date for the gift receiver.
Want to learn more about additives in the UK? Check out the Food Standards Agency website here.