Less and less additives on our plates - The360 Lifestyle

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  • Saturday, November 30, 2019

    Less and less additives on our plates

    Less and less additives on our plates

    Consumer pressure seems to have an effect on the content of their plate: the use of additives in industrial foods has decreased overall in 10 years, according to an official report. 

    "It seems that current trends in search for a healthier diet and consumers' fear of additives have prompted manufacturers to revise the ingredient lists of their products, by reducing the use of additives," he said. report of Oqali.

    This Food Observatory is under the responsibility of the Anses health safety agency and INRA (National Institute for Agricultural Research). Its report serves two purposes: to establish an inventory of the presence of additives and to measure their evolution between 2008 and 2016.

    The study covers 30,000 products in about twenty categories, from cereal bars to meals, drinks and chocolate. On the other hand, confectionery, which contains a lot of additives, has not been examined, but should be considered in the next section.

    First observation: more than three quarters (78%) of the analyzed products contain at least one additive. The majority (53%) contain at least three and a small part (4%) at least ten.

    The foods richest in additives are "frozen pastries and desserts, fresh caterers and ice creams and sorbets," says AFP one of the study leaders, Céline Ménard (ANSES).

    Some of these foods are frequently eaten by children. "Fresh caterers" are the foods sold in the fresh food department that are often eaten at the office: sandwiches, ready meals, salads...

    Out of 400 additives authorized by the European regulation, only a small number are used: 42 additives are found in at least 2% of all foods, and 8 are identified in at least 10% of these products.

    The most common are citric acid (E330, acidity regulator), present in 23% of products, modified starches (thickeners), in 22%, and lecithins (E322, emulsifiers), in 17%.

    Charcuterie and nitrites

    The second part of the study highlights "a downward trend, especially for the most used additives".

    Overall, there are more and more foods without additives: since the beginning of 2010, their share has increased from 13.7% to 18.3%.

    A marked trend for fresh caterers (where the share of food without additives goes from 3 to 16%), frozen pizzas (from 23 to 32%) or frozen ready meals (from 15 to 19%).

    Ditto for sausages: previously, only 3% contained no additives, against 9% today.

    The additives used in industrial sausages are essentially nitrites, to facilitate the preservation and give the product its pink color.

    However, nitrites are in the visor of consumer associations because of their role in the appearance of certain digestive cancers. The NGO Foodwatch, the application Yuka and the League Against Cancer have launched a petition Wednesday to demand their ban.

    What encourage manufacturers to change their practices: in recent months, charcuterie stamped "without nitrites" has blossomed on the shelves of supermarkets.

    On the other hand, "the number of products with additive increases significantly for compotes (" 10 points "), notably because of" the use of antioxidants such as ascorbic acid ".

    In addition, contrary to the overall trend, four "specific use" additives are more widely used than before: carotenoids (E160a, dyes), sodium carbonates (E500, yeasts), pectins (E440, gelling agents) and anthocyanins (E 163, dyes).

    This study, however, is not intended to address the health consequences of additives.

    "It makes a statement, it is not a risk assessment work," says Ms. Ménard.

    All these data have been transmitted to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which is responsible for the risk assessment of food additives. They may serve as a basis for further work to assess consumer exposure to these substances.

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