Many foods contain food additives. They are used to modify or stabilize the structure, taste, aroma, colour or shelf life of foods. The use of food additives is governed by a prohibition principle, i.e. their use in all foods is prohibited subject to a permit. This means that the use of all food additives is prohibited until they are officially allowed. Such permission is only issued after extensive trials and with specification of limiting values. However, even though only food additives which are classified as harmless to health may be used, as with other foods, they may cause problems in people with allergies and intolerances.
In particular acidifying agents, preservatives, aromas and colouring agents are suspected to be the cause of allergies and symptoms similar to allergies. The symptoms are often caused by a so-called pseudo-allergy. In this case, the immune system is not involved, but rather the reaction is triggered directly by the additives.
Typical symptoms include:
- Diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting
- Palpitations, circulation problems
- Skin problems
A delayed food allergy or a histamine intolerance may also cause these symptoms.
In Canada, food additives must be declared by an acceptable common name in the list of ingredients of a prepackaged product. They may be also listed at the end of the list of ingredients in any order.
A food additive is any substance that, when added to a food, becomes part of that food or affects its characteristics.
Food additives do not include:
- any nutritive material that is used, recognized or commonly sold as an article of food or an ingredient of food;
- vitamins, mineral nutrients and amino acids, except those listed in the lists of permitted additives;
- spices, seasonings, flavouring preparations, essential oils, oleoresins and natural extractives;
- agricultural chemicals, except those listed in the tables to list of permitted food additives;
- food packaging materials and their components; and
- drugs recommended for administration to animals that may be consumed as food;
The ImuPro blood test exclusively provided by FitLabs in Canada may help in determining if food additives are triggering a reaction. The test also identifies several preservatives and thickening agents, including benzoic acid, sorbic acid, guar gum, carageen or pectin