Food Additives – How to tell which ones are toxic by Alex Dunedin

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Title of talk:

Food Additives – How to tell which ones are toxic


Bullet points of what you would like to talk about:

  • Food additives which are banned in one or more country
  • Some effects which some additives can have on people
  • An easy legislation linked way to check the toxicity of a substance
  • Some chemistry about flavour enhancers and appetite stimulation
  • Why does Fortified Wheat Flour exist ?
  • Why don’t alcoholic beverages list their ingredients ?
  • Some examples of Food Crime


A few paragraphs on your subject:

For people living in an industrial country the food they eat will overwhelmingly be affected by industrial processes. Over time we have searched for increasing number of means to preserve, colour, emulsify and flavour food. Two of the oldest food preservatives are sea salt and vinegar (acetic acid), and this means that food can be stored and transported.


Over the last century chemical sciences have advanced radically. This means that the number of chemicals we are being exposed to has increased in corresponding ways. The industrial food chain has massively exploited this to the point at which some foods are formulated using a list of refined chemical substances. Add to this the number of chemicals which we experience through contact to our body (i.e. shampoos, chemicals in clothes, cleaning agents, etc) it is becoming more important as a skill for people to be able to research the safety of chemicals we are exposed to.


For many it is hard to know where to turn to get a basic idea of what is toxic or non-toxic, both for ourselves and the environment. In this talk I am going to share some insights from the research I have been doing into chemicals in the food chain and show people how they can find simple legislation linked summaries on the toxicology of food additives.


I am going to discuss the effects of some additives and share a list of food additives which have been banned by one or more countries. I am going to look at how new ‘flavour enhancer’ food additives stimulate appetite in those who eat them and discuss the potential knock on effects of this food chemistry. Finally I am going to talk about some examples of food crime before opening up a conversation with the people in the room.


A few paragraphs about you:

I am a researcher who has been involved in education for some years. I have researched the effects of alcohol on the body and looked at the relationship which exists between the chemicals we consume and the resources our bodies need to metabolise and eliminate them from the body.  For several years I did research for a hyperactive children’s support group where parents wanted to look at alternative approaches to medications like Ritalin, this is part of why I first started scrutinising food additives.


As a library researcher I am interested in the increased availability of scientifically reliable information to the public in general. I feel it is important for people to become informed about what is in their food as for certain additives have a direct bearing on our wellbeing and health.  I am also interested in critically analysing media which makes statements about food and health without providing peer reviewed science or enabling people to do analyses themselves.


What free internet knowledge resources would you recommend ?


Food Additives Banned by One or More Countries:

Food Additives Banned by One or More Countries


Award-winning food writer Michael Pollan talks about food chain:

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Approved additives and E numbers – Food Standards Agency


Opioidal Food Additives

Rubiscolin-6 is an opioid peptide derived from plant ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco). Opiates are small proteins involved in multiple biological functions.  Rubiscolin 6 protein has been patented by the Coca Cola company as a food additive (see information below)

An opioid is a substance which activates the opiate receptors; for example, the metabolism of alcohol (ethanol) gives rise to tetrahydroisoquinolines which act on the opiate receptors and are responsible partly for the intoxication and addiction associated with alcoholic beverages


Opiates and opioids are involved – ie affect –

  • Neuroendocrine interactions
  • Growth Hormone and Prolactin
  • Estrous Cycle
  • Substance P as an opioid
  • Testosterone and Lutinizing Hormone
  • Prolactin
  •  ACTH
  • Lutinizing Hormone
  • Vasopressin
  • Feeding and Drinking
  • Dementia
  • Learning, Memory and Cognition
  • Increased Emotionality
  • Addiction
  • Stress and Opioids
  • Shock
  • Sleep

(Click here for an in depth study of these aspects of opiate physiology)


The following are scientific papers documenting the opioid effects of Rubiscolin-6 peptide:

Hirata H, Sonoda S, Agui S, Yoshida M, Ohinata K, Yoshikawa M. Rubiscolin-6, a delta opioid peptide derived from spinach Rubisco, has anxiolytic effect via activating sigma1 and dopamine D1 receptors. Peptides. 2007 Oct;28(10):1998-2003. doi: 10.1016/j.peptides.2007.07.024. Epub 2007 Jul 27. PMID: 17766012.


Quote from the above “We previously reported that rubiscolin-6 had an analgesic effect and stimulated memory consolidation; Taken together, the anxiolytic effect of rubiscolin-6 is mediated by sigma(1) and dopamine D(1) receptors downstream of delta opioid receptor.”


Kaneko K, Lazarus M, Miyamoto C, Oishi Y, Nagata N, Yang S, Yoshikawa M, Aritake K, Furuyashiki T, Narumiya S, Urade Y, Ohinata K. Orally administered rubiscolin-6, a δ opioid peptide derived from Rubisco, stimulates food intake via leptomeningeal lipocallin-type prostaglandin D synthase in mice. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2012 Aug;56(8):1315-23. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201200155. Epub 2012 Jun 20. PMID: 22715053.


Quote from the above “We found that rubiscolin-6, a δ opioid agonist peptide derived from d-ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco), a major protein of green leaves, stimulates food intake after oral administration in mice.”


Ataka K, Asakawa A, Kato I. Rubiscolin 6 rapidly suppresses the postprandial motility of the gastric antrum and subsequently increases food intake via δ opioid receptors in mice. Mol Med Rep. 2022 Nov;26(5):340. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2022.12856. Epub 2022 Sep 16. PMID: 36111502; PMCID: PMC9494588.


Quote from the above “Rubiscolin-6 is a food-derived opioid peptide found in Spinacia oleracea that has anti-nociceptive, memory-enhancing, anxiolytic-like and anti-depressant effects. These effects were revealed to be mediated through δ-opioid receptors. The orexigenic effect of rubiscolin-6 may be applicable to the treatment of anorexia and cachexia.”

Here is quote from the patent owned by the Coca Cola company for using rubiscolin proteins in sweet products:

US8017168B2 – High-potency sweetener composition with rubisco protein, rubiscolin, rubiscolin derivatives, ace inhibitory peptides, and combinations thereof, and compositions sweetened therewith – Google Patents (

The present invention relates generally to functional sweetener compositions comprising non-caloric or low-caloric natural and/or synthetic high-potency sweeteners and methods for making and using them. In particular, the present invention relates to different functional sweetener compositions comprising at least one non-caloric or low-caloric natural and/or synthetic high potency sweetener, at least one sweet taste improving composition, and at least one functional ingredient, such as rubisco protein, rubiscolin, rubiscolin derivatives, ACE inhibitory peptide, and combinations thereof. The present invention also relates to functional sweetener compositions and methods that can improve the tastes of non-caloric or low-caloric high-potency sweeteners by imparting a more sugar-like taste or characteristic. In particular, the functional sweetener compositions and methods provide a more sugar-like temporal profile, including sweetness onset and sweetness linger, and/or a more sugar-like flavor profile.

Current Assignee

Coca Cola Co

Original Assignee

Coca Cola Co


This event took place at the Safari Lounge (21 Cadzow Place, Edinburgh EH7 5SN) at 6pm on the 2nd Feb 2023