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Table 20 Possible negative effects of food preservatives [133, 137,138,139,140,141]

From: A review on mechanisms and commercial aspects of food preservation and processing

Preservative Where found Possible negative effects
Sodium benzoate (E211) Carbonated drinks, pickles, sauces, certain medicines (even some ‘natural and homeopathic’ medications for kids) Aggravates asthma and suspected to be a neurotoxin and carcinogen, may cause fetal abnormalities. Worsens hyperactivity
Sulfur dioxide (E220) Carbonated drinks, dried fruit juices, cordials, potato products May induce gastric irritation, nausea, diarrhea, asthma attacks and skin rashes. Destroys vitamin B1. Causes fetal abnormalities and DNA damage in animals
Sodium meta-bisulfite Preservative and antioxidant May provoke life-threatening asthma
Potassium nitrate (E249) Cured meats and canned meat products May lower oxygen carrying capacity of blood; may combine with other substances to form nitrosamines that are carcinogens
P-hydroxy benzoic acid esters (parabens) Preserved foods and pharmaceuticals These compounds exert a weak estrogenic activity. Butyl paraben adversely affects the secretion of testosterone and the function of the male reproductive system
Lactic acid bacteria Fermented foods Listeria monocytogenes may grow in raw milk, meat, and vegetables during fermentation process. This pathogen is responsible for causing foodborne illness
Mono sodium glutamate (MSG) All frozen foods, canned tuna and vegetables Eating too much MSG can cause general weakness, flushing, heart palpitations, or numbness
Aspartame Used as a low-calorie sweetener in gum, drinks, pudding, and yogurt It may cause allergy and migraine headache
Sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate Processed meats and fish to retain red color and avoid botulism Consuming high amount of bacon, hot-dog, sausage containing nitrites or nitrates may cause type-1 diabetes. The risk is too prominent for pregnant women and children. These salts may also cause irritation to digestive system including mouth, esophagus, and stomach
Trans fat Deep processed fast foods and certain processed foods Increase cholesterol level and the risk of heart attack. Contribute to increased inflammation, diabetes, and obesity problems
Sodium sulfite (E221) Used in wine making and other processed foods Increase the risk of asthma and in extreme case may cause cardiac arrest
Potassium bromate White flour, bread, and rolls This salt is considered as carcinogenic and its presence in bread may cause harmful effects to human
Propyl gallate and tertiary butyl hydroquinone Processed foods, vegetable oils and meat products Low doses of propyl gallate can increase the risk of cancer, whereas tertiary butyl hydroquinone increases the incidence of tumors