13th March 2014: The Science of Food Additives and Behaviour by Alex Dunedin

food additives

Come along to The Counting House at 7pm for a talk by Alex. Share a crust of bread, and hear about food additives…


Title of talk:

The Science of Food Additives and Behaviour


Bullet points of what you would like to talk about:

  • What are food additives
  • Why are they called E numbers
  • Food additives banned by one or more countries
  • E is for ascorbic acid
  • Do azo dyes mimic adrenaline ?
  • Government research and food labelling
  • Reputable sources of knowledge

A few paragraphs on your subject:

Food additives are compounds added to food for specific reasons – to colour our food, to preserve it, to emulsify fats, etc. The E number system was produced to keep track of what is being added to which food and why – like any warehousing system.
There are a lot of myths about food additives, and they all tend to get lumped into the same category – bad or necessary… Food standards agencies have gathered together a huge amount of research on each element which is added in an industrial food, and for a great many there is sound rationale in doing so. However, there are some which are validly questioned.
We are in a time where we need to unpick the truth about the ingredients which make up our industrialised diet. Understanding where these additives are derived from, and why they have been added is a first step to being in control of our bodies and health. Knowing what research the various governments have done on each is a valuable tool to understanding the safety of each food stuff.
This talk will debunk some of the myths which exist about them and reinforce peer reviewed science on what we find in our food cupboards – from vitamin C to fractured petrochemicals called azo dyes. It will also explore the question of whether the azo dyes mimic adrenaline by nature of the atomic structure, and explore the possible link to behaviour.

A few paragraphs about you:

I have a passion for biochemistry – the chemistry of living tissues. As a library researcher I have been called upon to investigate various aspects of the diet and provide reliable information on what should and should not be included in the diet of certain groups of people – for example, those labelled with hyperactivity or those who suffer from allergic conditions such as bronchial asthma.
I have spent a great deal of time trying to put people at ease about some food stuffs, and trying to raise awareness about the problems of others.  Understanding the science, as found in widely acknowledged text books and peer reviewed studies, is something which I take great pleasure in – I feel it empowers me to live a better life by virtue of controlling what I eat.
I have spent a lot of time trying to put into plain terms the science which various governments and government bodies have brought together to inform high food standards.  It is my pleasure to be able to share what I have found, discuss it, and have it questioned. We live in a very interesting age where never before has so much quality information been available to so many. This is one reason for optimism.

What free internet knowledge resources do you use?:

Toxicology Principles For The Assessment of Food Ingredients
Material Safety Data Sheets
Pub Med Central
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Google Scholar
Cambridge List of Carcinogens
Food and Behaviour Research: Dr Alex Richardson, Oxford Neurosciences

Dr Ben Feingold

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