------Program code: NS-081106-06154 (what's this?)

Source: CCTV.com

11-06-2008 14:40

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Clearly food additives have brought many benefits to food processing. Are there any dangers related to their use though? How can we scientifically evaluate and control relevant safety issues?

Of course, everyone wants to be sure that the food they are eating is 100% absolutely. But this is impossible, because food will always inevitably contain some harmful substances. For example, lentils contain saponin and hemagglutinin.

Thus, before we fry them, we have to soak them in boiling water to get rid of these harmful substances. Otherwise, this could lead to food poisoning. This means that even natural foods have certain dangers to them. However, ingesting something deemed to be bad won’t necessarily harm you.

In the 16th century, a well-known physician, named Paracelsus, put forward the most famous concept in toxicology, that is, the dosage decides the toxicity.

If the intake of a substance is below its acceptable intake level, damage to the human health is within an acceptable scope. After evaluating the safety of a food additive, scientists put forth its acceptable daily intake (ADI) per kilogram of an average person’s body weight as the basis for governments to stipulate the applications and maximum dosages of food additives.

The Food Safety and Toxicology Evaluation Procedures issued by the Chinese Ministry of Health require that every food additive must undergo oral acute toxicity tests, genetic toxicity tests, teratogenic tests, 90-day feeding trials and carcinogenic tests in animals.

According to their toxicological data, food additives are divided into 3 categories: very safe, safe and unsafe. The first category of food additives have no restrictions related to their usage in food processing. They don’t need ADI values but simply reference dosages.

For example, after a large number of biochemical and toxicological researches, the international Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) announced that it planned to cancel the acceptable daily intake restriction of monosodium glutamate (MSG).

This shows that MSG is a very safe food additive. China’s standards stipulate that MSG can be used in various types of food according to the practical needs of food production. For example, the maximum reference dosage for MSG is 1.3 milligrams per kilogram in candy, 190 milligrams per kilogram in condiments and 4,300 milligrams per kilogram in soups.

The second category of food additives is food additives deemed safe. JECFA has established ADI values for each of them.

Their uses in food processing are restricted. For instance, long-term animal experiments show that lemon yellow has the weakest toxicity of synthetic pigments and is a safe food additive. Its ADI is 0 - 7.5 milligrams per kilogram. In China, it is stipulated that its maximum dosage is 0.1 grams per kilogram in fruit juices, drinks, candies and shrimps and 0.02 grams per kilogram in ice cream.

The third category of food additives is unsafe. According to toxicological data, such additives are considered to be unsafe for use in food. In 2002, the Chinese Ministry of Health announced the prohibition of 59 types of natural raw materials in food, including Dysosma pleiantha, Aconite Root, Catharanthus roseus, Lycoris radiata, cinnabar, yew, Illicium henryi Diels, digitalis, toads and Sudan Red. They are unsafe and if they are found in any food product, the company in question would be subject to legal action.

Now that there are so many toxicological regulations overseeing the safety of food additives, why do so many consumers think food additives are a food safety issue? This perception is in part caused by the bad behavior of a very small minority of food processing companies who violate the state's health standards through the use of illegal food additives. They increase the dosage of food additives or add some things that are not food additives into food. Consumers should stand up and safeguard their rights.

They have the right to know what additives are in the food they are buying. For example, soy sauce usually has preservatives added. When a consumer buys a bottle of soy sauce in the supermarket, he can read the specific name of the preservative, say sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate, on the label of the bottle. Similarly, the specific names of sweeteners, such as xylitol and acesulfame potassium, added to soy sauce should also be marked on the label.

When a type of food is added with more than 2 coloring agents, their specific names, such as Fancy Red and Bright Blue, should be clearly marked on the label. So when consumers buy food at the market, they can read the instructions on food packages to know what additives are. When they encounter problems, they can seek help from experts. 86 "

Consumers normally think natural food additives are safer than synthetic ones. In fact, this isn’t entirely correct. The toxicity of food additives is determined by strict toxicity tests. Natural food additives are mainly extracted from animals and plants. Some of them are extracted from microbial metabolites and minerals. They have a fatal weakness though, namely, they have a short storage time and thus can easily go rotten. For example, some cooked meat products are reddened with granulated sugar extracted from sugar.

But they can only be stored for 1 - 2 days.

Synthetic food additives are generally made through chemical synthesis or microbial fermentation. Some natural food ingredients or natural flavors, such as carotene and caffeine, can also be synthesized artificially. Compared to natural food additives, synthetic food additives have an unusual advantage. They can overcome the above weaknesses of natural food additives.

This red liquid is called Carmine. It’s a synthetic edible pigment. Its acceptable daily intake (ADI) is 0 - 4 milligrams per kilogram. Its maximum dosage is no more than 0.1 grams per kilogram in candy and no more than 0.025 grams per kilogram in soy milk and banger casing. It is important that we correctly understand food additives and what they are. We shouldn’t regard them as harmful substances, nor should we be misguided by attempts to skew what they are.