We’ve followed the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list for fruits and vegetables every year, and now they have published a Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives as part of their efforts (including a new food-scoring website) to educate consumers about what they are eating. The Dirty Dozen Additives list includes substances associated with serious health concerns, ingredients banned or restricted in other countries, and substances to watch as their potential health associations and risks have yet to be determined. Among the EWG’s listed additives are known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, GRAS (or “Generally Recognized as Safe”) ingredients that do not require government review or approval before reaching the market, and undisclosed “flavor mixes” with mysterious and potentially hazardous components. The EWG’s recent website launch and publications aim to shine a light on the need for stricter regulations and reviews of consumer products. The popularity of the new FoodScores database and the attention to the released guides are welcome signs that the public is interested in what’s on their plate, and will hopefully push to have a more transparent and accountable process for the foods that reach our grocery shelves. Read on to see the Dirty Dozen Food Additives List and the types of foods in which these additives are most commonly found.

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The EWG Dirty Dozen list:

  • Nitrites and nitrates (cured meats)
  • Potassium bromate (bread and wheat products)
  • Propyl paraben (muffins and food dyes)
  • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) (potato chips)
  • Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) (convenience foods including snack foods and cereals)
  • Propyl gallate (meat products and soup mixes)
  • Theobromine (chocolate)
  • Secret flavor ingredients (limitless processed food possibilities)
  • Artificial colors (such as Caramel Coloring III and IV)
  • Diacetyl (butter flavoring in microwave popcorn)
  • Phosphate-based food additives (Watch List) (butter flavoring in microwave popcorn)
  • Aluminum-based additives (Watch List) (processed cheese)

RELATED | 6 Sneaky Food Additives & Where They Like to Hide

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