There are so many substances that can poison us, we invented a scary looking symbol to call them out. Each of us was taught to avoid the “skull and crossbones” from a young age. When we see this symbol, we know the substance within is detrimental to our health. But what about poisons that don’t come with a label?
For decades, the commercial food industry has tinkered around with artificial flavors, strange dyes, and fake sweeteners, all with the goal of making “food” that’s cheap and non-perishable. These food additives infiltrated our food system without warning, and suddently, a mile-long list of unpronounceable ingredients became the norm instead of the exception.
We assume that products sold in the grocery store have all be deemed safe for human consumption, but that’s hardly the case.
Analysis conducted by JAMA Internal Medicine found that “all of the 451 notifications voluntarily submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during that time were made by people who had relationships with manufacturers of food additives, which include salt, trans fats and artificial flavors and sweeteners.”
“Manufacturers get to decide whether food additives are safe or not,” writes Marion Nestle in an editorial on the JAMA study. “Manufacturers get to decide whether to bother to tell the FDA the additives are in the food supply. And if they do volunteer to inform the FDA (and many do), manufacturers get to decide who sits on the panels that review the evidence for safety.”
And we’re not just talking about fake vanilla flavoring or Nutrisweet, here.
“Most of the foods on our shelves also contain chemicals and additives that are known to harm either the human body or laboratory animals. If they harm animals, they can harm you too,” reports MPH Programs.
So I’ll ask again: How many poisons will you eat today? Scroll through the infographic to learn about some of the more common food additives, and the foods in which they lurk.
Image via Thinkstock