Food Additives To Avoid

It is a sad reality that food additives are commonly found in packaged foods.

Most health-conscious people can still be ingesting unnecessary food additives because they’re not aware of the widespread use of these products even in foods labelled as ‘healthy’. Don’t be fooled into thinking that they can be easily avoided just by not buying confectionery.

A lot of these additives can in fact be found in a variety of products ranging from breads and biscuits to sauces, cereal, dairy foods (including yoghurts), ice creams and snack foods. Most of them have been linked to behavioural disturbances in children, anti-social behaviour in teenagers as well as learning and developmental delays.

The easiest way to avoid food additives is to ditch all prepackaged food and stick to fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs and natural dairy (unflavoured, unprocessed). When transitioning to a whole food diet however, some people may find the need to gradually reduce the amount of pre-packaged foods, in which case it will be useful to familiarise yourself with these categories in order to understand which food additives to avoid.

Your family’s health will improve considerably, as well as your children’s mood and behaviour.


Yellows: 102, 107, 110

Reds: 122-129

Blues: 131, 132

Green: 142

Black: 151

Browns: 154, 155

  • Where found: confectionery, cakes, buns, biscuits, icing, sauces, jellies, crackers and savoury snacks and ice cream.
  • Side effects: Studies have linked them to hyperactivity, anti-social behaviour, asthma and allergies.

The above additives are banned in some countries.


Cochineal: 120

Annatto: 160b

  • Where found: breakfast cereals, snack foods, processed cheese, yoghurt, ice-cream.
  • Side effects: asthma, skin rashes, hyperactivity, potential carcinogen. Cochineal has been linked to anaphylaxis and is banned in the US.


Sorbates: 200-203

  • Where found:  cheese spreads, cottage and sliced cheese, dried fruits, fruit juices, fruit yoghurts, licorice, low sugar jams, soft drinks.
  • Side effects: Asthma, skin rashes, hyperactivity

Benzoates: 210-218


  • Where found:  preserve cordials, fruit flavoured drinks and juices, soft drinks and sauces. PABA added to cosmetics, skin creams and sunscreens.
  • Side effects: Asthma, hyperactivity, cross reactivity for aspirin allergy sufferers, neurotoxicity. Some numbers banned in some countries.

Sulphites: 220-228

  • Where found: dried fruit, potato products, dried coconut, sausages, all crustaceans, dessert toppings, cordials.
  • Side effects: Asthma, anaphylaxis, swelling, gastric irritation, diarrhoea.

Nitrates, nitrites: 249-252

  • Where found: cured meats (ham, salami, corned beef), some cheeses.
  • Side effects: Asthma, cancer, headaches, dizziness, vomiting.

Propionates: 280-283

  • Where found: breads, bread crumbs, dressings, fruit and vegetable juices to stop fungal/mould growth. Some manufacturers now have switched to cultured whey, cultured rice -these have the same effects as propionates and are not a healthier alternative.
  • Side effects: Aggression, fatigue, migraines, hyperactivity, learning difficulties.


Gallates: 310-312

TBHQ: 319

BHA: 320

BHT 321

  • Where found: chewing gum, butter blends, rice pudding, soft sweets, dried vegetables, nuts and seeds, seasoning for instant noodles, powdered soup mixes, cereal, grains, meats, baked goods with fat, snack foods, dehydrated potatoes and oils for deep frying, animal feeds, cosmetics, rubber and petroleum products. Most plastic packaging.
  • Side effects: Hyperactivity, potential carcinogens, known estrogen and hormone disruptors. Can affect fertility.


Monosodium glutamate (MSG) and related flavour compounds:
620, 621, 622, 623, 627, 635

  • Where found: savoury snack foods such as noodles, flavoured crisps, biscuits, crackers (including so called ‘healthy’ rice crackers).
  • Side effects: asthma, heart palpitations, nausea, heartburn, migraines.