Food preservative – boon or bane?

Food preservatives chemicals such as benzoic acid, nitrites, and sulphites, utilised as an additive to increase the shelf life of a product. Food preservatives has positive as well as negative side.

Talking about positive factors, some of them are as follows:

1. Increase Shelf Life

The Food preservatives can help food last longer without getting contaminated. It preserves it for a longer period of time. Preservatives can be found in all kind of processed foods that helps them stay fresh and not get contaminated easily.

2. Making Life Easy

It definitely helps in comforting the life owing to food preference, expanding urbanization, increasing affordability. The consumption of canned foods and processed foods has risen tremendously and made it easier for people who can’t cook. It helps keeping food safe and nutritious for longer time.

3. Eliminated Microbes

It helps eliminate yeast and bacteria that affects the food. Preservatives are anti-oxidants, reduce the moisture level of the food, makes food more acidic, prevents the growth of microorganism. It helps to store food for longer period and helps reducing the wastage as it helps to increase their shelf life.

Some of the negative impacts are as follows:

1. Increased Cancer Risk

Preservatives used for meats such as, nitrites, and nitrates may increase the risk of certain types of cancers, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Sodium benzoate, propyl gallate and some other preservatives are also considered that can increase the cancer chances, but nothing has been proved yet.

2. Allergies and Reaction

Sodium benzoate may cause asthma, hives and other allergic reactions to a small percentage of population. Including, sulfites that help to inhibit the bacterial growth in wine and discoloration of dried fruits can lead some sensitive individuals to diarrhea, flushing, low blood pressure, abdominal pain and other allergic reactions.

3. Nutritional Value

Preserved foods are not fresh and that is one of the major disadvantage. The preservatives used can cause various allergies and majorly preservatives add lot of salt and sugar in food which may lead to arise of some diseases. The nutritional value of the foods such as fruits and others go down and is not that healthy to be consumed.

Though, all the preservatives are approved by various bodies such as, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but still some of the preservatives are debatable as no solid evidence has been found. The preservatives have good and bad side. The major advantage for which the preservatives are preferred is because it increases the shelf life of the products i.e., keeping them from getting contaminated.

– Vasundhra Singh,
Assistant Research Executive,
Infoholic Research