6 Common Food Preservatives and Their Nasty Side Effects

Unless you follow a very strict natural diet, chances are, you ingest dozens of food preservatives every day. While the FDA must approve a food additive before it is available to consumers, that does not mean it’s beneficial or even harmless to consume.  It’s highly important to avoid the ingestion of these potentially harmful preservative which are found in many foods. Healthy preservative free meals are greatly advised such as our expert recommended protein shakes. The highest rated protein shake was found to be 18Shake, and you can find its review HERE.

Here are some of the worst preservatives that should be avoided as much as possible:

1. Brominated Vegetable Oil

Find it in: Flame Retardants and Citrus Soda Pop

Food Products it’s in: Mountain Dew, Squirt, Fanta Orange, Fresca Original Citrus, Gatorade Thirst Quencher Orange, and other citrus-flavored soft drinks and sports drinks

What it is: This ingredient, made from soybeans or corn, is used as a flame retardant by chemical companies, but its purpose in soft drinks is to stabilize the citrus oils from floating to the surface, giving the drink a cloudy appearance.

How it can make you sick: Brominated vegetable oil is banned for use in food in Europe and Japan. The problem is that it builds up in the body and can cause neurological and reproductive problems and skin lesions. Cases of bromine intoxication in humans have caused headaches, fatigue, memory loss, ulcers, and a loss of muscle coordination. These patients ingested much greater than average amounts of soda, but with the popularity of soft drinks like Mountain Dew among many teenagers and video gamers, illnesses are a plausible risk.

2. Sodium Nitrite and Nitrate

Find it in: Fertilizer, Rocket Propellant and Lunch Meats

Food Products it’s in: Processed meats like bacon, ham, hot dogs, deli meats, pepperoni, salami, jerky, smoked fish, and corned beef

What it is: Sodium nitrite is a mineral salt powder that prevents botulism and meats from turning grey.

How it can make you sick: Cooking these meats at high temperatures and ingesting them could lead to nitrosamines forming, which is a carcinogen. They have been controversially linked to leukemia, colon, bladder, and pancreatic cancer. Nitrates may trigger migraines in certain people. Pregnant woman should especially avoid sodium nitrates as they can result in oxygen deprivation of fetuses.

3. BHA, BHT, and TBHQ

Find it in: Embalming Fluid and Potato Chips

Food Products it’s in: Chewing gum, cereals, vegetable oil, some meats, fatty and oily foods like potato chips, butter, nuts, and snack foods

What it is: Butylated hydroxyanisole and hydroxytoluene, two synthetically created chemicals, keep oils from quickly becoming rancid. They are used in many products, including animal feed, cosmetics, rubber products, food packaging, and petroleum products.

How it can make you sick: These substances are classified by the Department of Health and Human Services as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” Conflicting studies show the additives to either increase or decrease cancer rates in animals, but they have not been adequately reviewed and so are still “generally recognized as safe” by the FDA. The creator of the Feingold diet, which eliminates most artificial food additives, claimed BHT also increased levels of hyperactivity in children.

4. Propyl Gallate

Find it in: Pesticides, Lipstick and Chewing Gum

Food Products it’s in: Vegetable oil, mayonnaise, dried milk, dried meat, fresh sausage, chewing gum, chicken soup base, sports and energy drinks

What it is: Propyl gallate, a white odorless powder, often works in tandem with BHA and BHT to prevent fats and oils in food and non-edible products from spoiling.

How it can make you sick: Studies suggest the additive may be a carcinogen. In a study by the National Toxicology Program, rats fed propyl gallate had lower body weights than average, tumors, and malignant lymphoma. Those with asthma, liver or kidney problems, or an allergy to aspirin should especially avoid it.

5. Sodium Benzoate, Benzoic Acid

Find it in: Explosive Fireworks and Pickles

Products it’s in: Carbonated drinks, fruit juices and purees, salad dressings, pickles, condiments

What it is: It’s a salt used to preserve acidic foods.

How it can make you sick: When sodium benzoate combines with vitamin C in foods, it can create benzene, a carcinogen that causes leukemia and other cancers. The risk is low, but it’s there. Soft drink makers recently reformulated their fruit-flavored drinks to prevent this reaction after a lawsuit was filed against them. Those with food allergies may also experience a negative reaction, asthma or hives after ingesting, and it may increase hyperactivity in children.

6. Sulfites (Sodium Bisulfite, Sulfur Dioxide)

Find it in: Volcanoes and Dried Fruit

Products it’s in: Wine, dried fruit, canned olives and peppers, dehydrated potatoes, cornstarch, shrimp and lobster, baked goods, condiments, molasses

What it is: Sulfites inhibit microbial growth and prevent discoloration, keeping raisins brown and wine sterilized. It is also used as a bleaching agent. Sulfites destroy vitamin B1, so are prohibited in foods that are important sources of the vitamin. Sulfur dioxide is in the atmosphere as an air pollutant from volcanic gasses and coal-burning power plants.

How it can make you sick: The FDA estimates that more than a million people are allergic to sulfites, chiefly asthmatics, and that they can cause mild to severe reactions such as difficulty breathing, headaches, and anaphylactic shock.

There are many preservatives such as the one’s listed which should be avoided for overall health. A great option for a healthy meal is a protein rich shake. Out of all the shakes available our experts found that 18Shake was the most nutritious preservative free meal. To read the review and discover why it was rated so highly, click the link here.

Also Read:


Best Rated Diet Shakes of 2024

8 Scary Hidden Ingredients in Processed Foods

Bisin: A New Natural Food Preservative

11 Responses to 6 Common Food Preservatives and Their Nasty Side Effects

Anonymous says:

good page

Matthew says:

It took around 1 hour to find those things that I need for my science.Finaly I got this page and it is very helpful.

ssssss says:

It is too much helpful

Victim of Poison processed food says:

Got food poisoning from Oberto’s sausage sticks that contained BHA ane BHT. Started off with feeling of constipation, indigestion, and stomach ache. I noticed I had gas build up in my stomache, and started burping, with a burning liquid coming up from my stomach as I burped that tasted like the Oberto’s sausage sticks. Got tired of that burning taste and started vomiting all the Oberto’s sausage sticks. Couldn’t hold down any water for a few hours, and finally felt better after I vomit all the Oberto’s sausage sticks and all the acid build up from those nasty poisons processed snacks. Never having any Oberto’s sausage sticks again, went to the bathroom about a dozen times, altogether about 20+ feet of s*** but felt a lot better after vomiting all those Oberto’s sausage sticks. All this time the Oberto’s sausage sticks were not digesting in my stomach and just sitting there, never felt so good after vomiting all that poison out. Fed the rest of those sausage sticks to my dogs.

Doug says:

What? Are your dogs garbage cans?

Anonymous says:

So it’s ok to poison your dog??

Rebecca Floris says:

Really good, interesting. Great for my science class

Charmaine says:

Terrible headache, buzz in my head and eye swelling after snacking on dried cranberries containing TBHQ and citric acid. Poison! Have the same symptoms when I ingest Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). Food companies are slowly poisoning us. Will now definitely stick to one ingredient fresh produce only.

Narinderpal Singh Sodhi. says:

Want Good Healthy Preservatives For Shakes & Juices. Suggest As Your Best.

nana says:

I am allergic to preservatives, but sometimes i end up eating something with some in it. Well, when I do I have memory loss of what i have done tip the next day? Why would that be? It is like I may be doing something and am not swear of it tip the next day. Scarey!!! Please help me understand.

Grateful Grandma says:

This is perfect for getting the point across to children !
Pesticides, Lipstick and Chewing Gum..
Fertilizer, Rocket Propellant and Lunch Meats..
Flame Retardants and Citrus Soda Pop

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