List of Food Additives to Check on Product Labels- Its Uses and Health Concerns

List of Food Additives to Check on Product Labels- Its Uses and Health Concerns

Acesulfame Potassium

Acesulfame potassium, also known as ace K, is an artificial sweetener that replaces regular table sugar. It is often combined with other low and no-calorie sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose. Also, this high-intensity sweetener is commonly used as a sugar substitute as it is around 200 times sweeter than sugar but gives low to no calories when added to food products.

Acesulfame potassium is majorly used indifferent beverages, such as soda, fruit juices, ice cream, desserts, jam, marmalade, baked goods, and some dairy products.

In some cases, the artificial sweetener adds potential side effects to health like disrupting metabolic processes, obesity, gut, and blood sugar. Therefore, to identify the sweetener in food and drink products, check for acesulfame potassium, acesulfame-K, or Ace-K on the food and drink labels.

Artificial Flavors

Artificial flavor (or artificial flavoring) is an additive that signifies "any substance, the purpose of which is to add flavoring to the food rather than nutrition."

Also known as synthetic flavors, these are complex mixtures of chemical substances made from edible ingredients to match natural flavors. However, the products that comprise artificial flavors and similar ingredients are not sourced originally from nature.                                                                                                        

Foods and drink items contain this synthetic food additive, plus it is also present in most packaged foods, such as yoghurts, bread, dressings, sodas, baked goods, chips, and other processed foods.

Its consumption may affect gut health or digestion, allergic reactions, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.


Aspartame, also commonly known as NutraSweet and Equal, is an artificial, non-saccharide sweetener. As compared to sucrose, aspartame is way sweeter. Therefore, even the slightest amount of aspartame can bring the taste with a negligible amount of calorie intake. However, it is not recommended over a certain level.

This low-calorie sweetener is in beverages, diet soda, sugar-free ice cream, desserts, dairy products, nutrition bars, sweetener syrups, and other packaged food for extra sweetness.

It is sweet but does not contain natural sugars or calories if used in controlled amounts. However, consuming large amounts can result in headaches, increased BMI, diabetes, abdominal pain, bloating, and dizziness.

Autolyzed Yeast Extract

Autolyzed Yeast Extract is a type of MSG or monosodium glutamate. When yeast is broken down into its constituent components, we get free glutamic acid or glutamates used to prepare food. 

As MSG is quite expensive, autolyzed yeast extract is used as a substitute to add a soluble mixture of amino acids, salts and carbohydrates. This ingredient works as a natural flavor enhancer in soups, veg meats, meats, soy sauces, dressings, cheese, and snack food. In addition, it provides a special and unique umami taste (or savory), the fifth basic taste.

One should avoid using such products if you have blood pressure as yeast extract contains high sodium content.


Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are the commonly used chemicals for preservatives. Although products react when exposed to oxygen and go rancid, preservatives keep any product fresh from drying.

These are also used as artificial antioxidants in cosmetics and personal care products and are used as food preservatives in canned, packed, processed food items and daily snacks. You can find these common food additives listed on the labels of various packaged foods.

BHA is effective for treating skin conditions because of its antibacterial properties. But before using any product, consult your dermatologist to find out if the product is safe. Also, it is safe to use in food but only in limited approved amounts by FDA.

Bleached Flour

Bleach Flour affects the texture and taste of various foods. Bleaching agents like benzoyl peroxide and chlorine help speed up the flour's aging process, resulting in a fine-grained, white, soft flour. However, the bleaching process and the traces of preservative chemicals reduce the nutrient content.  

It is used in baked goods for better preparation, softer texture, and seamless finishing. For example, it is in demand for baked items, including cookies, pie crusts, bread, pastries, muffins, and pancakes.

Bleached flour can increase irritation for people who suffer from digestive problems. Also, the agents break down certain nutrients in foods, such as essential fatty acids.

Calcium Peroxide

One of the food additives, calcium peroxide, is widely used to make bakery products. It is also used in toothpaste as a tooth whitening agent.

It acts as an agent that accelerates the oxidation process used in dough conditions. It is synthesized using a chemical process from calcium, salt, and sodium peroxide ingredients. 

It leavens the bakery products using yeast and strengthens the gluten structure to support the quality of the flour. Apart from that, it also aids the dough's water retention and absorption capacity.

In some cases, it can affect if breathed in, including coughing, sneezing, irritation, and a feeling of breathlessness

Calcium Propionate

Calcium Propionate is an organic salt present in various foods and baked goods. This salt is formed from a reaction between calcium hydroxide and propionic acid and is used widely as a food additive. In addition, it helps to preserve and extend the shelf of food products.  

It is extensively used in bread, muffins, cheese, yoghurt, powdered milk, ham, cider, and beers.

It is generally considered safe when consumed in such food items, but its regular intake may lead to diabetes. Another main reason for health risk is that it is derived from chemical synthesis as an artificial preservative and thus is not natural.


Carrageenan is another common food additive often used as a thickening agent in foods and drinks. The natural ingredient comes from red seaweeds and can form gel-like substances even at room temperature. 

Mostly, the usage of carrageenan is evident in food industries to improve the taste, texture, and appearance of food.

It is in everyday food items, including ice cream, whipped cream, sweetened condensed milk, yoghurt, shakes, fruit gushers, diet sodas, soy and plant milk. 

Carrageenan can affect the digestive tract, and cause bloating, inflammation, digestion issues, and irritable bowel issues.


Another thickening agent in all kinds of food products is Cellulose. It is insoluble and composed of glucose monomers' chains obtained from plant cell walls and vegetable fibers. This fiber makes up the plant cell walls and provides strength to it.

Though it is present in plant foods, it is also used as a food additive. When added to food products, it allows an increase in bulk and fiber content. It is used in ice creams, whipped toppings, cheese, frozen yoghurts, etc.

As a food additive, it can have an allergic reaction in some people and may also lead to irritable bowel syndrome.

Corn Syrup 

Corn syrup is a sweet syrup used as an additive in food items. It is a sugar derived from corn starch made of maltose and a high concentration of oligosaccharides. It is of two types- light corn syrup is clear in color, slightly sweet, seasoned with vanilla flavor and salt. Dark corn syrup is a brown colored liquid syrup denser. It is combined with molasses that imparts the warm brown color, caramel color and flavor, salt.

It is commonly used as a sweetening ingredient by confectioners in baked goods, candies, jellies, ice cream, sorbets, soft drinks etc. 

It can add unwanted calories and thus can result in health problems like weight gain, fatty liver, and excessive intake linked to diabetes.

Cotton Seed Oil 

Cottonseed oil is an edible vegetable oil extracted from the seeds of the cotton plant either through pressing, crushing, and mechanical processes. Other than the Gossypium plant, a few numerous species of cotton plants are involved in making cottonseed oil.

After processing, the final oil has a light golden color and a robust nutty flavor.  It is best consumed in moderation due to its high saturated fat content, so it is less healthy.

It extends the shelf life of packaged foods like chips, mayonnaise, baked goods, cakes, bread, salad dressings, etc.


Datem, also known by the name- Diacetyl tartaric acid ester of mono- and diglycerides, is an artificial emulsifier made from chemical synthesis with multiple raw components, including acetic acid, tartaric acid, glycerol and fatty acids. This food additive is widely used as an emulsifier in food processing.

It helps increase volume in various products and provides a uniform structure. For example, you can find this ingredient in bread, buns, muffins, donuts, cakes, and croissants.

Datem is generally considered as safe, but as this is not a natural food product, it may have side effects in a few cases. Therefore, avoid consuming such food products regularly.


Dimethylpolysiloxane is an antifoaming and lubricant agent in food and cosmetic products. This colorless and clear liquid is added to the oil to prevent bubble formation on the surface of liquids or frozen ingredients. In addition, it helps increase the life and usability of the product.  

It is present in bottled fruit juices, vegetable juices, flavored drinks, jams, cosmetics, deodorants, nail polish, shampoos, conditioners, etc. Also, this food additive is low in toxicity level.

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