Although many of the 3,000 natural and synthetic food additives approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration enhance our food supply, others are linked to potentially dangerous health problems. Use the information in this chart to identify, understand, and perhaps avoid the most common additives.
Also known as
What it is
Coloring agent, color, Citrus Red or Red No. 2, Brilliant Blue or Blue No. 1, Sunset Yellow or Yellow No. 6,and others
Synthetic dyes (including coal-tar dyes) found in most processed foods and many drugs. These dyes correct and enhance food colors.
Studies have linked artificial colors with behavior and learning problems in sensitive children. One of the most common colors, Yellow No. 5 (Tartrazine), is associated with allergic reactions and conditions. A small risk of cancer and tumors is associated with certain dyes, such as Red No. 3.
Low-calorie sugar substitute found in diet foods, such as soft drinks, gum, and candy.
Studies have linked aspartame to headaches, depression, nausea, and sleep disorders.