A perfect example of why you need to read the ingredients list!
A while ago I decided to buy some flavoured crackers (yes – made with white flour, which we hardly ever do, but that’s the beauty of a 90/10 philosophy). I was in a rush and spotted some Arnott’s Shapes with “No Artificial Flavours” marketed on the box so grabbed them. Only once I was home did I read the fine print and found flavour enhancers (number 635 to be precise) in the list of ingredients.
When at the supermarket this week (before writing this blog) I checked, and found two such products in this range continuing to make these claims. Which OK – I guess is FACTUALLY correct. It is just a little deceiving though, don’t you think?
Flavour enhancers (specifically those numbered 620-625 which includes MSG, and 627, 631 and 635) are all additives that have been linked to hyperactivity, behavioural problems and sleep disturbance – plus much more: skin rashes, kidney problems… (gosh the list really does go on!).
Most flavour enhancers are not recommended for children and are banned in infant foods in Australia, New Zealand and America because they are known to cause severe damage to the brain and nervous system. While it is wonderful that this protection is being offered to babies under the age of 12 months, in my opinion it simply doesn’t go far enough.
Because children are smaller and still developing (particularly neurologically), they are more vulnerable to the effects of additives than adults. This susceptibility is even higher in the case of flavour enhancers, as they cross a safety net called the blood-brain barrier – an important mechanism which protects the brain from the rest of the body (including from neurotransmitters capable of disturbing brain function).
Flavour enhancers are also highly addictive; they trick your brain into thinking that the food you are eating tastes good, causing you to consume more and more of the product. AND as you crave more of the foods containing flavour enhancers all other food begins to taste bland by comparison and you lose the joy of real food.
My advice is to look for 620-625, 627, 631 and 635 in foods such as instant noodles, pasta meals, flavoured chips, crackers, packet or canned soups or stocks and stock cubes, pies and even seasoning in the stuffing of fresh chicken or in marinated meat and sausages from your supermarket or your butcher.
Notice something there? Most of that is poor quality food that “needs” the addition of flavour enhancers to make it taste nice – food that there are much better alternatives for. So I hope in your household you are moving towards these being in the occasional 10% only (if at all).
Final reiteration. In case you missed it! Don’t believe everything you read on the front of the box – always look at the actual ingredients list! Something as simple as beginning to eliminate nasty food additives can have a massive, positive impact on your mental and physical health and that of your children.