Nutrition: Why food preservatives are often better than their reputation

Nutrition: Why food preservatives are often better than their reputation

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Preserving food: preservatives are often better than their reputation

Preservatives have a bad reputation with most people. Finally, it is known that some of these substances can lead to health problems. But experts explain why preservatives are necessary in many foods.

Worried about chemistry in food

Many people are worried that chemicals are increasingly in food, but according to experts, the greatest danger to our health is not in food, but in poor eating habits. "Overeating and wrong eating far outweigh possible health risks from environmental pollution or additives," wrote the Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) on their website. The Federal Center for Nutrition (BZfE) explains in a communication why there is usually no need to worry about preservatives in food.

Make food safe and durable

Synthetic preservatives and their E numbers really don't have the best reputation among consumers.

For many, there is too much concern about having an “artificial” or “unhealthy” product on the plate.

At the same time, it is necessary to add preservatives to many foods in order to make them safe and durable.

Sometimes enormous amounts of sugar would be necessary

Is there no preservatives at all? Not always, because with the addition of table salt, sugar, vinegar, oil or alcohol, not every food can be preserved.

For example, jams may require more than 60 percent sugar to achieve sufficient shelf life.

Comparatively large amounts are also necessary for other substances, which is often not desirable or possible. According to the BZfE, the addition of preservatives is more effective and safer in such cases.

43 food preservatives approved

According to the experts, 43 food preservatives are currently authorized in the European Union.

Each substance is carefully examined for its harmlessness to health before it is approved as an additive and may be placed on the market.

This also applies to naturally occurring substances such as plant substances and extracts. After successful approval, they receive an E number just like synthetic substances.

Therefore an E number in the list of ingredients does not automatically mean that it is an unnatural or even "harmful" food. For example, rosemary extract bears the E number 392. It is considered "natural" and healthy.

Incidentally, a large part of the synthetic additives known today are taken from nature or are derived from natural substances.

Some people are very sensitive

According to the BZfE, most people tolerate the additives approved in the EU well. There are, of course, exceptions: for example, people who are highly sensitive to individual preservatives.

For example, the consumption of sulfites can lead to nausea, headache, diarrhea, pseudo-allergic reactions and, in individual cases, to anaphylactic shock.

According to the experts, however, this does not justify generally demonizing preservatives. After all, many consumers want a modern lifestyle with convenience products.

Food manufacturers are increasingly looking for gentle processes for preservation and natural alternatives to synthetic preservatives.

Therefore, customers today have the choice between fresh or preserved products in different ways. So everyone can choose what best suits their everyday life and lifestyle. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

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