10 Toxic Food Ingredients You May be Ingesting Everyday

In the food processing industry, most manufacturers manage to sneak in less natural ingredients and more chemically modified items to either increase production or to enhance flavouring and taste. This chemically modified ingredients may sound normal (who puts harmful ingredients names in packets anyway) disguised in highfalutin, scientific sounding names but reality is, it has been beating the nutrition out of the otherwise labelled as healthy foods.

Currently, there are 14, 000 man made preservatives that are added to food consumables. This is called as the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) additives by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Although most of these have been recognized as safe, some controversy has existed over the cause and effect relationship between the additives and some medical conditions.

Having been used for a thousand of years, these additives are substances that aim to improve food tastes. They are generally classified as dye, antioxidants, emulsifiers, flavourings and preservatives. On record, these additives are listed in their Chemical Abstract Services numbers and in return, these numbers are the one listed in the food packets.

Natural vs. Artificial

Natural seems a better option in everything but then there can be certain natural additives that aren’t necessarily safe. These natural additives may also cause certain allergic type reactions from other people.

Food additive allergy may occur after eating certain foods especially in pre-packaged foods although each symptom may vary from person to person. Majority of which aren’t really allergic reactions but are just intolerances.

Some food additives though may not be listed in the food packets that we often bought.

supermarket aisle2

The 10 Offenders

Note: Although the products listed are in general, it does not mean that the whole line in the supermarket contains the toxic ingredient.When choosing products, its best to check labels first.

BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)

Found in: Chewing gum, cereal, butter, chips, vegetable oil, sausages

chewing gum

BHT is used as an additive to prevent oxidation. It can be found in your chewing gum, butter, cereal, snack foods and beer. BHT is also used for food packaging, cosmetics and petroleum product. In large quantities, it can impair blood clotting and can promote tumour growth. This additive is banned already in countries like England, Japan, and other European countries. IT has been declared by theWorld Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer as a possible human carcinogen.

 High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

Found in: Root beer, Juice drinks, corn flakes, cereals, Coca cola, Pepsi, Rice Kris pies, breakfast pastries, processed fruit and vegetable products


 These additives may lead to obesity, diabetes and heart diseases. HFCS is made out of modified corn and processed with genetically modified enzymes. Some HFCS samples were even tested to have contained mercury. HFCS is found in soft drinks, salad dressings, processed snacks and breakfast bars. For more reason why HFCS is a bad additive, you may read HuffPosts article on Why You Should Never Eat High Fructose Corn Soup.

Yellow 5 or Tartrazine

Found in: jam, ice cream, sauce, custard powder, cake mix, orange coloured cheese, candy, coloured marshmallows, popsicles


Yellow 5 is a synthetic lemon yellow dye. It is used to colour food and is known as E102. It is derived from coal tar and contains lead and arsenic. Most coal tar colours are potentially known to cause cancer. One of the most notable products that use yellow no. 5 is Mountain Dew. Back in 2013, Kraft, a known food company, decided to ditch the yellow dye used in its Mac and Cheese after a petition has been launched in petition and had gathered 348, 000 signatures.

Propylene glycol alginate (E405)

Found in: fruit juices, beer, dairy products, yogurt, jelly, jams, ice cream, salad dressing


E405 is a known food thickener emulsifier and stabilizer. IT is derived from alginic acid which is esterified and combined with the propylene glycol. Propylene glycol is also used on runway de-icers and automotive antifreezes. It acts as preservative and lengthen shelf life. It has negative side effects according to report such as nausea and stomach problems. Sometimes it can cause hair loss, rashes and eye irritations. E405 is found in salad dressings, ice cream products and candies.

Polysorbate 60

Found in: dill pickles, baked goods, frozen desserts, snack cakes

dill pickles

Widely used as emulsifier, Polysorbate 60is consists of corn, palm oil and petroleum. This additive is used to replace the dairy products in baked goods and other liquid products.


Found in: apples, bananas


1-Mehtylcyclopropene is a gas that is often pumped into apple crates to prevent it from ripening. This gas can preserve fruits, apples and bananas, for up to a month. Although it won’t cause severe adverse effects among humans, eye irritation can happen once the 1 MCP isn’t handled rightly. Some evidences though say that it can be harmful if swallowed inhaled and absorbed through skin. Try to imagine that every time you eat fruits that are out of the season, you’ll be ingesting this.


Found in: diet soda, yogurt, chewing gum, Crisp, Drink powders, Flavoured water, Sugar free products, cereals, cooking sauces

flavored water

Aspartame is a sugar substitute. It has been sold as Equal and as NutraSweet. This same additive though has caused inability to metabolize phenylalanine in 1 out of 20, 000 babies. Phenylalanine is one of the two amino acids in the Aspartame. This product is banned among pregnant women.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Fund in: fast foods (McDonalds, KFC, Taco Bell, and Burger King), chips, sauces and seasonings, fermented packaged foods


MSG is a flavour enhancer that can be found in processed foods. It is often used in salad dressings. Condiments, seasonings, and snack chips. Its common ill health effects includes headaches, burning sensations in neck and forearms as well as chest tightening.

Potassium Bromate

 Found in: white breads, rolls, buns. Fast food and dough based desserts


Potassium bromate is used by many manufacturers to increase the volume in flour, breads and rolls. Bromate is often used to lower cost of baking. It hasn’t been banned yet in the US, but it is banned from the UK and the Canada. Contact with bromate may cause skin and eye irritation and burning. It can induce coughing and wheezing once inhaled and can affect the nervous system causing headache, irritability and impaired thinking.


Found in: barbecue sauce, potato chips, corn chips, oatmeal to go bars


Olestra is used as a fat substitute, has no calories and cannot be absorbed by the digestive system. It often cause negative things on the digestive system, causing digestive troubles.

Other toxic ingredients includes

  • L-Cysteine – extends shelf life but is derived from human hair,
  • Castoreum – Vanilla flavoured ice cream has this and it’s made from a goo excreted by a beaver from its anus
  • Dimethylpolysiloxane – Anti caking ingredient used in coffees, chocolates and soft drinks but used in silly putty, caulk and industrial oils
  • Carmine – found mostly in red sodas, red candy, red yogurt and more, this additive is taken from the shells of parasitic insect that lives off from cacti
  • Shellac – used to make candies, fruits to look appetizingly shiny but has been common among furniture polish and in preserving cadaver
  • Tert-Butylhydroquinone – found in gums, crackers. Beverage whiteners and processed meats but mainly used for biodiesel fuels and nail polish.

Image Credit:
hopkinsii, mtsofan,
mariobraune, theimpulsivebuy, tzofia, mandolux , dierken, design-dog, elycefeliz, stephen-oung, madlyinlovewithlife , foodjunk via flickr