How Food Additives and Food Coloring Affect Your Child’s Health

How Food Additives and Food Coloring Affect Your Child’s Health


GROWING KIDS – There are over 3,000 known additives, and the number is increasing. These chemicals, natural or otherwise, have different effects on different people. One individual may have a reaction to just a few milligrams, while another may take in twice the amount and not experience anything at all.

Also, they tend to accumulate in the body. The body’s reaction to them build over time, sometimes making it almost impossible to link them with the onset of adverse symptoms. In many cases, symptoms include headaches, irritability, or difficulty in sleeping.

Kids are most vulnerable to chemical intolerance. When a child is intolerant to food additives, any or a combination of the following reactions can occur:

  • irritability and restlessness
  • unruliness
  • anxiety and depression
  • migraines and headaches
  • eczema, itchy skin rashes
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • asthma
  • ear infections
  • stuffy or runny nose
  • arthritis
  • sleep disorders
  • betwetting
  • lack of energy
  • disorganization
  • learning difficulty

Some additives require special attention:

Potassium nitrate, also known as saltpeter

What it does: Provides a vibrant red color to meat.

Health effects: Excess potassium nitrate can cause cyanosis, a disease where the normal red blood cells are oxidized and deprived of oxygen.


Nitrates are also believed to be carcinogenic. Once they combine with amines or amides found in the body or in protein rich foods, they form nitrosamines, chemicals that have caused cancer in lab animals.


Potassium bromate

What it does: Increases the volume of bread.

Health effects: bromates could cause cancer, although most usually break down into harmless bromide. That’s why in many countries, potassium bromate is banned.


Having too much bromate in the system can also lead to poisoning of the kidneys, abnormally low blood pressure, and lack of potassium in the blood.



What it does: Gives powdered juices, ice cream, and snacks a yellow color.


Heatlh effects: can induce asthma attacks and allergic reactions.


Monosodium glutamate

What it does: Enhances flavors in food and condiments.


Health effects: causes palpitations, headaches, and migraines in some people. In commercially prepared food, MSG may be hidden under “flavorings” in the label.


Sudan I, Sudan II, Sudan III, and Scarlet Red (Sudan IV)

What they do: Give chills and curry powders a more intense red.


Health effects: Classified as carcinogenic by the World Health Organization.


Acesulfame potassium and saccharin

What they do: Sweeten food and drinks artificially.


Health effects: Both have been found to cause cancer in lab animals. Although saccharin and acesulfame are not banned, minimizing or avoiding their intake is strongly advised.


Blue 1, blue 2, green 3, red 3 and other food colorings

Health Effects: Lab tests suggest that some food colorings can be carcinogenic. While the studies are not conclusive, it is best to practice avoidance or moderation.