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Get to know Food Preservatives in your groceries

Food preservatives are made to maintain freshness and ensure the initial quality of food to stay as long as possible. Food preservation is an effort made to inhibit or prevent decomposition, acidification, fermentation, and other damage to food caused by bacteria, fungi, and other microbes.

Traditionally, preserving food can be done in various ways such as fermented, buried, put in jugs or bottles, made into jams, canned, given an alkaline solution, acidified, marinated, smoked, sweetened, heated, boiled, frozen, cooled, or dried.

Get to know Food Preservatives in your groceries

However, along with the times and technology, various food preservation techniques were developed in research laboratories to be applied commercially. Starting from pasteurization, it is inserted in a vacuum container, irradiated, using a strong electric field, placed in a closed container to reduce oxygen levels but increasing carbon dioxide, heated with ionized gas molecules, using natural or controlled microbiota or natural antimicrobials, until given ingredients additional food preservatives.

Food preservatives are safe to use, but some are not. The following three types of food preservatives are recommended to be avoided.

Sodium benzoate or sodium benzoate

Sodium benzoate is an additive used as a preservative in various processed food and beverage products. Unfortunately, according to research, food preservatives are thought to cause hyperactivity in young children as well as students, improve symptoms of asthma, and cause cancer. Leukemia and other types of cancer can occur especially if sodium benzoate is added to drinks that taste sour (artificial vitamin C). This mixture produces benzene, a cancerous chemical (a carcinogen).

Sodium nitrate or sodium nitrate

Sodium nitrate is a food preservative used in processed meats such as bacon, sausages, beef jerky, fish or smoked meat, and ham. Allegedly, sodium nitrate can increase the risk of heart disease because it can damage blood vessels, making arteries tend to harden and narrow. Nitrates can also affect the way the body uses sugar so that the body is susceptible to diabetes.

Some studies have also shown that consuming high levels of sodium nitrate can cause problems such as colorectal cancer, thyroid cancer, pancreatic cancer, esophageal cancer, gastric cancer, ovarian cancer, blood cancer (leukemia), and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.


TBHQ or tertiary butylhydroquinone or tert-butylhydroquinone is an additive preservative for preserving processed foods. TBHQ is usually used for vegetable oils, biscuits, noodles, frozen food, or fast food to extend product shelf life and prevent rancid odors.

These food preservatives are often used in conjunction with other additives such as propyl gallate, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). As a result, researchers actually found some health problems.

According to the study, these food preservatives can increase the risk of tumors in mice and cause enlargement of the liver, neurotoxic effects, seizures, and paralysis in laboratory animals. In addition, BHA and TBHQ are thought to affect human behavior to be hyperactive and cannot focus attention on something (attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, ADHD).

Before you buy food or drinks, it is recommended to read the composition of the ingredients and types of food preservatives listed on the packaging first. Careful in choosing snacks influences your body and family health.
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