According to the Food and Drug Administration, there are more than 3,000 additives used in foods to — among other things — enhance flavor, texture or shelf life. They range from simple ingredients such as sugar or salt to chemical compounds with unpronounceable names.
You certainly don’t need to avoid them all, but even among additives that the FDA has deemed safe, there is some evidence that not all are completely benign. We’ve taken a look at the latest research on some food additives that have recently sparked some controversy or concern.
Nitrates and nitrites
These food additives are used mainly as preservatives in processed meats — such as bacon, hot dogs and deli meats.
What’s the concern? When these foods are cooked at high heat, or when they mix with stomach acid during digestion, the added nitrites can generate nitrosamines. Nitrosamines may be carcinogenic, and some research shows that