E numbers: how harmful are they?

E numbers: how harmful are they?

I recently had a discussion with a number of students about E-numbers. Their statement: the use of E-numbers was dangerous and the manufacturer provides misleading information about this. Students still have to learn and having a discussion with them about this is very nice. Above all, they are open to new information.

How different is that with people who have already formed their opinion? E-numbers are deadly, harmful and must be banned. Point. Ready. From. It indicates that there is still a lot of confusion about E numbers. Therefore a number of facts in a row.

What are E numbers

E numbers are excipients approved by the European Union. Products receive an E-number if extensive research shows that the substance is harmless to health. Moreover, an enormous safety margin has been taken into account when determining the safe quantity. The E-number is therefore actually a quality mark.

Meaning of numbers and letters

Each group of E numbers starts with its own number. The colorants start with a 1, preservatives with a 2, flavor enhancers with a 6, etc. The colorant ‘red’ has number E-128, the preservative sulfur dioxide has number E-220 and the flavor enhancer calcium glutamate has number E-623

Only with clear function

E-numbers may only be added if it fulfills a clear function in the product and does not add properties that the product does not normally have. For example, no sweetener may be added to cheese. After all, a sweet taste is not a natural characteristic of cheese.

Not always chemical

E numbers are certainly not always chemical! Substances such as vitamin C also receive an E number because they are added to prevent oxygen from affecting products. The same applies to the dye beta-carotene, the orange dye that occurs in carrots, among other things.
Specific numbers can lead to health problems if there is an individual intolerance or allergy to this substance. One of the best known is monosodium glutamate (E-621), better known as Ve-tsin.

Always a mention on product

Due to the above point, E numbers or their chemical names must always be stated on the packaging. It is not possible that a product contains additives that are not on the label. If products are purchased online from, for example, America, the same rules apply in principle, provided that it is imported legally. The product often receives an extra label.

Sweeteners also have an E number

Sweeteners are also given an E number. The E numbers of sweeteners start with a 9. For example, the sweetener xylitol, widely used in chewing gum, has the E number E-967. The following also applies to sweeteners: extensive research has shown that it has no harmful effects when consumed in normal quantities. Incidentally, drinking 4 liters of diet coke daily is not considered a normal amount!

Degree of product processing

The more E-numbers, the more the product has been edited. The number of ingredients including E numbers indicates the extent to which the product has undergone processing processes. For example, consider the difference between minced beef from the butcher and a ready-made meatball from the supermarket.

Everything in moderation

Although the aim must always be to use as few processed products as possible, we must be so realistic that on a flat on 7 floors, it is difficult to keep your own vegetable garden and to let chickens and pigs roam. In short, we cannot continue our current consumption pattern without E-numbers. After all, it is not possible to process and export products without these additives. They are a necessary link in keeping products sustainable and attractive. But: in moderation …

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