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4 Quick Tips to Limit Your Child’s Intake of Food Additives


Processed and packaged foods are a convenient choice for today’s busy families, but they’re loaded with thousands of additives to control color, flavor, aroma, nutrition, texture, and shelf life. (Thus, the impossible to pronounce ingredients lists!) Some are okay and some should be avoided, especially since they can have a disproportionately greater health impact on children compared to adults.

Limit your child’s intake of food additives by following these easy steps:

Identify what your child eats. Keep a food diary for a week, noting everything that is eaten – including at school. At the end of the week, you should have a good idea of your child’s exposure to food additives. Food additives are largely present in processed and packaged foods, candy, soda and other “junk” food, so if you limit those foods, you’ll cut down considerably.

Eat whole foods. Eating a balanced diet of fresh produce and whole grains will go a long way towards keeping additives out of your child’s system. Whole foods are much healthier than processed and packaged. But, if you do buy processed foods, look for the organic options which have little or no added synthetic colors or preservatives.

Read Labels. According to pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene, be especially attentive to the top five risky additives:

1. Artificial Colors – anything that begins with FD&C (e.g. FD&C Blue #1)

2. Chemical Preservatives – Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA), Sodium Nitrate, Sodium Benzoate

3. Artificial Sweeteners – Aspartame, Acesulfame-K, Saccharin

4. Added Sugar – High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), Corn Syrup, Dextrose, etc
5. Added Salt – Look at the sodium content and choose foods with the lowest amounts.

Additionally, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, some of following additives have been associated with negative health impacts:

Propyl Gallate 

Sulfites (Sulfur Dioxide, Sodium Sulfite, Sodium And Potassium Bisulfite, Sodium and Potassium Metabisulfite)

Potassium Bromate 

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil 

Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil

Potassium Bromate
Olestra (Olean)


Sodium Nitrite

If you have a question about any food ingredient, dietary supplement or cosmetic contact the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Nutrition, 888-SAFEFOOD.

Report Adverse Reactions. Alert your health care provider to any adverse reactions to find out if your child has special sensitivities or allergies. These reports are also often compiled for health agencies to monitor the safety of ingredients. If too many adverse impacts are reported, regulatory action may be necessary.

Learn more at


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One Response

  1. I like the idea of a food diary – particularly incorporating what the kids are getting at school. I’m always amazed at what they serve in some of my toddler’s playgroup classes – even in NYC.

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