"The more you know, the more you realise you don't know". This is certainly true for me. The longer I work in the field of health, the more I realise just how much more there is to learn!
An example of this happened a few weeks ago. The food additive test kit came up with a client and the food additive was 319 (or E319) which is TBHQ or tert-Butylhydroquinone. Try saying that three times quickly after a glass of wine! I hadn't heard of TBHQ before so I looked it up on the app The Chemical Maze and got this:
If you haven't used The Chemical Maze app before you can tell that the red grumpy face sums it up well. I was going to highlight all the relevant parts of the description but I ended up highlighting everything! The crux of it is, it can affect the nervous system (neurotoxic), may cause cancer and can cause allergic reactions inducing asthma and skin issues. It has also been shown to effect the functioning of the immune system.
You may be thinking (and quite rightly so) what the hell is it and why is it allowed anywhere near our food?! It is a synthetic antioxidant, primarily used to prevent oils and fats going rancid. It's allowed in our foods because a 2004 review of TBHQ concluded it was no longer a carcinogenic risk. The FDA decided on a safe daily intake for humans of 0.7mg/kg/day. I have to admit I haven't read the review in full but the parts I have read can be picked apart quite easily...needless to say I'm sceptical of a safe daily intake. Please read more at https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.2903/j.efsa.2004.84 to make up your own mind.
According to the Food Intolerance Network, many people are affected in their learning, behaviour and health by synthetic antioxidants including 310-312 and 319-321. Symptoms include:
"...lethargy and myalgia, impairment of memory and concentration, mental agitation or depression, dysphasia, visual disturbances, tinnitus, dizziness, autonomic disturbances, paraesthesias, neuralgias, irritable bowel symptoms, behavioural and sleep disturbance reactions, migraines and headaches, and eczema..." None of which have been tested for in any safety studies. Read attachment A of the following document for some real life experiences with these antioxidants: https://www.fedup.com.au/images/stories/ApplicationA555a.pdf One of the key issues with these antioxidants is a loop hole in the labelling regulations. If the oil + antioxidant compound makes up less than 5% of the ingredients, the antioxidant doesn't need to be listed. The only way to know with these products is to contact the manufacturer.
What foods contain these anti-oxidants?
Again from the Food Intolerance Network:
virtually all commercial oils and margarines
some oils for home cooking (except olive oil)
can be in any product which contains vegetable oil or margarine.
Typical problem foods are:
frozen chips and french fries
frozen crumbed products e.g. fish fingers
ice-cream or other frozen desserts
sweets with margarine e.g. fudge
This is a long list - so what to do if you suspect yourself or your child has an intolerance to synthetic antioxidants or other additives? Start at fedup.com.au as they are a great resource. They have loads of information including handy wallet sized card with the food additives to avoid. You can also find a Dietitian who works with food additive intolerances and they can help you with an elimination diet. If you suspect something in particular we can also test for it using the kinesiology test vials.
And of course, the more whole foods you eat, the less of these synthetic antioxidants you will be exposed to.
Happy label reading!
P.P.S. Online bookings are available for current clients.