Food safety: 5 harmful chemicals in food products

Food safety: 5 harmful chemicals in food products

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chemicals in food

There’s an urgent need for transparent labelling, effective regulation, and greater consumer awareness to safeguard public health. 

Indian spice brands have been in the news lately for allegedly not following food safety regulations in various countries. Popular products from companies like Everest and MDH were found to contain ethylene oxide, classified as a ‘Group 1 carcinogen’ by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. 

First Check looks at some of the commonly used chemicals in food products that are known to be detrimental to consumer health and wellbeing: 

Ethylene oxide: This colourless, flammable gas is used as a sterilising agent and pesticide. Exposure to ethylene oxide, even at minimal levels, can increase the risk of adverse health effects, including cancer, nervous system issues, and respiratory complications. 

Trans fats: Both industrially produced and naturally occurring trans fat (unsaturated fatty acids) are equally harmful. Found in fried foods, baked goods, processed snacks as well as meat and dairy foods, trans fats clogs arteries, and increase the risk of heart attacks and deaths.

Acrylamide: It is a contaminant formed as a result of the thermal process in many everyday foods, such as coffee, French fries, potato chips, biscuits and bread, to name some. A possible carcinogenic compound, acrylamide is formed during high-temperature cooking and linked to higher risk of cancers. 

4-Methylimidazole (4-MEI): This carcinogenic compound is usually produced by the caramelisation process in foods and drinks, such as sodas, sauces, coffee and baked goods. It is known to prevent the activity of metabolic enzymes and can lead to liver and lung cancer, among other health risks. 

High fructose corn syrup: Derived from corn starch, the sweetener is widely used in processed foods and beverages, including sodas, juices, cereals, baked goods and candies. Research shows that increased consumption of fructose sweeteners is one of the major underlying causes of chronic metabolic diseases, including obesity, insulin resistance, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. 

The presence of these harmful substances in popular food products highlights the importance of transparent labelling, effective regulation, and greater consumer awareness to safeguard public health.

Read More : Ultra-processed foods impact physical & mental health: Study