Food Additives and Preservatives

Food additives are contained in many foods, used to modify or stabilise the structure, taste, aroma, colour and shelf-life of consumable products.

Acidifying agents, preservatives, aromas and colouring agents have long been suspected to cause food hypersensitivities and allergic-type symptoms. These symptoms are often caused by a so called “pseudo-allergy” (for e.g. Histamine Intolerance). In these cases, the reaction is triggered directly by the additives and the immune system is not involved. A delayed food allergy or histamine intolerance may cause symptoms such as:

Diarrhea | Constipation | Stomach discomfort, bloating or nausea | Vomiting | Headaches or migraines | Heart palpitations | Circulation problems | Asthma | Skin reactions

In the European Union, food additives are stated on food packaging as E numbers (a code with which the approved substances are numbered and labeled). This system is also used in Australia, New Zealand and by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). With the FAO, these numbers are designated as INS numbers (International Numbering System). Food additives may only be used if they have been explicitly approved, deemed to be technically necessary and harmless to health. Food additives must always be stated in the list of food ingredients with their so-called “class names” and the reason for their use must be apparent from the label (e.g. flavour enhancer or preservative). Additionally, either the name of the substance or the ‘E number’ must be stated. For example, in a sauce this may be written as: “Thickening agent E412” or “Thickening agent guar gum”

An overview of the most important E numbers for food additives:

– E100 and above: Coloring agents
– E200 and above: Preservatives
– E300 and above: Antioxidant and acidifying agents
– E400 and above: Thickening and moisturizing agents
– E500 and above: Acidifying agents
– E600 and above: Flavor enhancers
– E900 and above: Sweeteners etc.

The ImuPro blood test covers several preservatives and thickening agents including benzoic acid, sorbic acid, guar gum, carrageen or pectin. You can view the full food list here or contact us for more information.