Killer foods: the danger of preservatives

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We all know about the harmful effects of junk foods and treats on our bodies. They range from causing weight gain and cardiac issues to high blood pressure and a build-up of dangerous acids and fats in our systems. However, many preservatives and additives in foods can be just as harmful, regardless of what types of foods they are in.


Processed foods and artificially manufactured minerals and vitamins are more dangerous than their naturally occurring counterparts, because no matter how well the manufacturing process is implemented, there still may be some compounds that are filtered through, such as sulphur and potassium, which can be very harmful at high levels. Harmful effects from these leftover products range anywhere from blood clotting and acid reflux to cancer and respiratory failure.


The contents of any digestible products are required by law to be listed on the packaging. These lists act as indicators as to which additives and preservatives are digested through any specific product. However, these lists are often coded to make the chemicals and ingredients seem more significant than they are. Codes such as E173 are used to indicate aluminum as a preservative, as not to scare away potential customers with the thought of ingesting a heavy metal.


Other dangerous additives which can cause a wide range of problems such as hyperactivity, asthma and cancer include the food colorant known as tartrazine (coded as 102 or E102), benzoic acid, a preservative coded 210 or E210 and commonly found sodium nitrite (250/E250).


Many other preservatives hold the same dangers, so it is important to note the possible danger in any situation, and to know what to look out for (whether its a code or a chemical name).


These preservatives may be used in order to avoid having the products spoilt during the transport and storage process, but there is always a danger of high levels being hazardous (as you know, even drinking too much water can be dangerous). If you are unsure about ingesting any products or additives found in foods, consult a doctor to make sure that they are safe.


Healthshare South Africa is one of the most successful hospital and pharmaceutical management service providers in the country, and forms part of the larger Healthshare group, which provides quality services throughout the African continent.


To find out more about Healthshare SA’s portfolio and how to have Healthshare manage your hospital/pharmacy/training program, visit the Healthshare website, or send an e-mail to for further info.


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