There are three chemicals that are commonly found in certain foods and beverages that have been linked to cancer, psychological issues and various illnesses. Those chemicals do not appear naturally. In fact, they are put there by corporations to add flavor, color and texture. Due to very little fanfare and exposure, these chemicals could be silently affecting your health and the health of your children without much scrutiny.
Also known as titania, titanium dioxide is a pigment used in many cosmetic products and paints. Unfortunately, it is often used in small amounts to add color to certain foods and candies. Most commonly, it is found in make-up and women's cosmetics that contain an orange or red pigment, but it can be found commonly in children's sweats and, particularly, in colored cake sprinkles.
Studies have shown titanium dioxide to have carcinogenic effects when ingested and inhaled. More recent studies backing up the cancer causing effects of titanium dioxide have compelled politicians in France to push to have the chemical banned. In 2020, France finally banned the chemical from toothpastes and foods.
In 2021, the European Food Safety Authority declared titanium dioxide to "no longer be considered safe as a food additive".
Other countries, like the United States and Canada, have yet to ban titanium dioxide from foods and cosmetic products. As fine dust, it has been proven to cause cancer in the lungs and skin tissue, while ingesting the chemical has been proven to cause intestinal and organ cancers. Although it appears in relatively small amounts as a color additive, titanium dioxide could accumulate in tissue and organs over time.
In the United States, titanium dioxide appears in the colored coatings of many over-the-counter drugs and supplements, like Tylenol and Centrum, or in the orange and red coatings of other brand name capsules.
This is a common food coloring that appears most famously in Kraft Dinner, adding the bright yellow glow to the famous macaroni and cheese dinner consumed by millions of Americans each day. It is also commonly referred to as "Yellow #5".
Tartrazine is one of the most common yellow/green colorings in children's candies and treats. It can also be found in some condiments and in brand name dill pickles.
Studies have shown that tartrazine may have links to children's mental health issues and hyperactivity. More troubling, however, is a 2015 study that shows tartrazine may cause damage to white blood cells.
Evidence linking tartrazine to AD/HD and hyperactivity is more controversial, as many experts believe that a genetic predisposition is required in some children for tartrazine to be a concern. In those cases, tartrazine may act as a trigger.
Tartrazine is heavily and commonly used in most candies with a yellow and green coloring. If you were to pull out a package of candy from your cupboard and read the ingredients, you would be likely to find tartrazine, or Yellow #5, listed as an ingredient.
Hexametaphosphate, or Sodium Hexametaphosphate
This is a commonly used sequestrant. Sequestrants are food additives commonly used to preserve foods and to prevent oxidation. Basically, hexametaphosphate is a preservative.
Hexametaphosphate is also used in the textile industry to break down clay and to prevent clumping.
It can be found in toothpastes and mouth wash products designed to prevent stains, but it can also be found in some bottled drinks, like iced tea and cold green tea. It is then, when this chemical is placed in consumable beverages, that it becomes worrisome. It is often used in bottled tea beverages to prevent solids from clumping and sediments from forming, which would turn away many customers from purchasing the product.
In larger doses, hexametaphosphate has been known to cause dangerously low heart rates and low concentrations of calcium in the blood stream, also known as hypocalcemia. Severe hypocalcemia can cause fainting, muscles spasms and seizures.
Few studies have been done to evaluate the carcinogenic effects of hexametaphosphate, but other studies have proven various health effects and dangers involved with consuming the chemical.
Read The Ingredients
It is important to read the ingredients on all of your consumable products. If any of these three chemicals are listed as an ingredient, beware and be cautious of feeding the products to your children or consuming them yourself. Contact the producers and your local politicians to make them aware of the health effects listed for these three chemicals.
Other products, from other brands, may not contain either of these chemicals and may prove to be a better choice.