Be careful what you put on your plate, “The new additives guide”

They are everywhere and are supposed to “pimper” our favorite foods. More colorful, more tasteful, in short, more appetizing, many small dishes, biscuits and other sweets make us sing the taste buds with great additives. Recognizable in their name: the letter E followed by three figures, food additives are nestled in almost all food products for everyday consumption. But in fact, if they are not chemical, additives pose health problems?

What is the risk of consuming them? Are there any more dangerous than others? Based on more than 150 scientific studies, the new additives guide * (edited by Thierry Souccar) screens the most commonly used food additives and allows consumers to see more clearly.

“No nutritional interest”

But what about food additives? “They are compounds, sometimes natural, but most often chemical, which have different functions,” explains Anne-Laure Denans, co-author of the New Additives Guide. A quarter of the additives could be dangerous for health and all are used extensively by the agri-food industry. The preservatives antioxidants allow a longer shelf life and certain classes of additives, such as dyes, texturizing agents and flavor enhancers, used in the same food, mean that natural ingredients have been removed and replaced by these compounds. to make the product more attractive at a lower cost. Additives are therefore the sign that a food is transformed, or even ultra-transformed and, therefore, not necessarily good for health.

“It’s not a matter of demonizing food additives – some of them do not pose any known problems so far – or of saying that eating foods that contain them is cancer-causing,” says the author, a doctor of pharmacy and a graduate. in nutrition. With this book, we simply call for the precautionary principle and enlightened information. ” In this guide, the most commonly used additives are listed and color-coded. We learn if they are safe (green) or avoid (red); what type of product they are found in and their potential health consequences, supported by reference scientific studies.

Hold off «light»

Among the red classified additives, we find aspartame, present in a good part of the products “light”. Sugar-free sodas, lightened yogurts and other diet products all contain this sweetening sweetener 200 times higher than “real” sugar. “But in its January 2015 opinion, the National Food Safety Agency (ANSES) indicates that intense sweeteners, which include aspartame, have no benefit on weight control or on blood sugar levels of people with type 2 diabetes, “says Anne-Laure Denans. A study by Inserm even highlights the increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in case of excessive consumption of light drinks.

Beware of sweets and ham

If prized kids, sweets would not be all white. Have you not noticed that we often say that we should not give too much candy to children because, in addition to risk spoiling their quenottes, they are then excited? “The discharge of sugars,” argue some. Except that “beyond the sugars contained in sweets, the cocktail of additives – colorants in the head (E 102, E 104, E 124, etc.) – used for their manufacture could promote in children the disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) “, warns Anne-Laure Denans. Dyes for some banned in Australia and the United States.

Another treat dear to little ones (and to parents in a hurry): ham shells. However, depending on the products you put in your shopping cart, this dish could be harmful to their health. In question: the nitrites contained in the ham. This additive, found in all industrial sausage products, is used to give hams and other sausages their pink color that make consumers crave. Almost impossible to escape. However, although they are authorized in France, these nitrites (E 249 to E 252) have been classified as probably carcinogenic by the World Health Organization (WHO). “They have also been classified as probable carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer,” adds Anne-Laure Denans.

Every consumer actor of change

Faced with the mistrust that additives arouse in a growing proportion of consumers in search of healthy and natural, the agri-food industry has replaced the E something by name. Thus, leaving the E 621, which on packaging leaves room for “glutamate”, a flavor enhancer “suspected to be neurotoxic and which causes appetite disorders, promoting obesity and diabetes,” says Anne -Laure Denans. “But more and more savvy consumers are looking to avoid sausage containing nitrites,” she notes. As a result, brands sold in supermarkets are beginning to offer a range of deli-free charcuteries. “

Thus, each consumer, on his own scale, can be “an actor of change and help to change things in the right direction, in the direction of a healthier diet,” she says. The author advises “to move towards organic products, which are allowed to use a limited range of 50 additives in total, of which only 7 classified red in our guide. A book thought as a tool for shopping with common sense. For Anne-Laure Denans, “smart reading of labels and consumption of raw products” are also on the menu for a healthier diet. And if you fall for a packet of biscuits or a prepared dish, “it is good to compare the products of different brands in the same range, she advocates. For an apparently identical recipe, some products are much healthier than others. “

Here is the first guide on additives based on science . You’ll know in seconds if a food can be bought without worry.

You’ll discover what the codes or complicated names on the packaging actually hide: safe additives like E 330 or E 920, or more problematic like E 250 or E 621.

Among the revelations of this book

• The 7 dyes suspected of promoting hyperactivity

• Why phosphate additives are in the hot seat

• How emulsifiers can disrupt the intestinal flora

• 7 sweeteners to avoid in case of high blood sugar

• Tips from manufacturers to get their products accepted

The example of slimming products: 0% fat, but loaded with additives

* The new additives guide; Those who are sure, those who are not, by Anne-Laure Denans and the collective Nutrition, Editions Thierry Souccar, 11.90 euros, in bookstores March 9

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