Confused about the E numbers on food labels? These numbers refer to the additives added to foods to preserve, flavour or enhance their taste and appearance, dietician Kim Hofmann of the The Lean Aubergine Dietetic Services explains.
Additives are substances that are added to foods to preserve, flavour or enhance their taste and appearance. Some additives have been used for centuries - for example, using vinegar to preserve food by pickling, or using sulfur dioxide to preserve wines. With the increasing use of processed foods in the second half of the 20th century, there has been a great increase in the use of food additives (both natural and artificial) of varying levels of safety.
There has been much controversy associated with the risks and benefits of food additives. Some artificial food additives have been linked with cancer, digestive problems, neurological conditions, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), heart disease or obesity. Natural additives may be similarly harmful or be the cause of allergic reactions in certain individuals.