Did you know the FDA maintains a database of over 3000 different items, which are added to our food? This series covers the most common of these additives. Today, we continue working our way through the list of additives the FDA deems “safe”, as we discuss anti-caking agents. For the other articles in this series, FOLLOW THIS LINK.
What is an anti-caking agent? (2,3)
These substances are generally used in any product which is powdered or granulated in nature, such as salt, drink mixes, spice mixes, etc. They work in one of two ways, either by absorbing excess moisture or by coating to make the ingredients water repellents. The purpose is to prevent the ingredients in the powder from clumping together. The majority of anti-caking agents aren’t actual food products, which are foreign to our body, making it difficult to digest and break down.
Aluminum – Aluminum Toxicity
Silica is a mineral necessary for the human body. As you can see in the video above, silica is only absorbable in an organic form or food form. The recommended dose of silica is 40 mg/day.Food sources of Silica: (5)
- Oats – 20mg/100g
- Bananas – 5 mg/100g
- Spinach – 7 mg/100g
- Tofu/soy – 5 mg/100g
- Rice – 5 mg/100g
- Seafood – 3 mg/100 g
HOWEVER…Most food additives are made from inorganic sources, because it’s easier and cheaper to use. The inorganic form of silicon dioxide is not healthy for the body, nor is it absorbable.
Here is a quote from OSHA regarding Silicon Dioxide:
“Crystalline silica has been classified as a human lung carcinogen. Additionally, breathing crystalline silica dust can cause silicosis, which in severe cases can be disabling, or even fatal. The respirable silica dust enters the lungs and causes the formation of scar tissue, thus reducing the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen.”
While it does seem a bit scary to see the word cyanide, from my research, this substance appears to be safe. (If you can consider any chemical “safe”) Ferrocyanide, or cyanide bonded with a IRON molecule, is typically used as a salt, such as potassium ferrocyanide and sodium ferrocyanide. Unlike typical forms of cyanide, ferrocyanide is considered LESS TOXIC, because they “tend not to release the free cyanide.” (7)
With that said, there are certain, very rare conditions, where this substance becomes quite dangerous. Mixing ferrocyanides with hot concentrated acid frees up dangerous amounts of hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide. (8) Keep in mind, this reaction happens with pure ferrocyanide, not necessarily a reaction that would occur with your food. It would also need to occur in very large amounts.
Most common anti-caking agents
(This is a list of the most common anti-caking agents.
For a more comprehensive list, follow THIS LINK.)
- Aluminum calcium silicate – Generally recognized as safe when used 2% by weight in table salt. A known carcinogen. May contain crystalline silica, a chemical that has been determined s to cause cancer and other chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects and other reproductive harm. Causes respiratory tract irritation. Causes skin irritation. Causes eye irritation.
- Calcium carbonate – Generally regarded as safe. Helps promote phosphate balance within the body.
- Calcium phosphate/tri-calcium phosphate – bone ash– Not considered toxic or irritating except in large doses. Inhalation can cause lung irritation.
- Calcium silicate – Used in…2%Vanilla Powder, 2% in foods, 2% In animal feeds, 5% in baking powder. May cause skin irritation. Prolonged contact and possible induction of altered pulmonary function (lung disorders) and lesions when silicate or asbestos are also present.
- Hydrophobic silica and Silicon dioxide – the principle constituent of sandstone Extremely hazardous in case of skin contact (corrosive, irritant), of eye contact (irritant), of ingestion, of inhalation. Inhalation of dust will produce irritation to gastro-intestinal or respiratory tract, characterized by burning, sneezing and coughing. Severe over-exposure can produce lung damage, choking, unconsciousness or death. Inflammation of the eye is characterized by redness, watering, and itching. The substance is toxic to lungs, mucous membranes. Repeated skin exposure can produce local skin destruction, or dermatitis. Repeated exposure to a highly toxic material may produce general deterioration of health by an accumulation in one or many human organs. Repeated or prolonged inhalation of dust may lead to chronic respiratory irritation.
- Magnesium carbonate – Relatively safe. Can be moderately toxic in large doses, however, relatively weak as an antacid or food additive.
- Magnesium silicate – (AKA: Talcum powder) This substance is generally recognized as safe when used 2.0% in table salt. Toxic to lungs. Repeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage.
- Prussiate of soda, yellow – An anticaking agent in salt. Contains a minimum of 99 percent by weight of sodium ferrocyanide decahydrate. Toxic to blood, lungs, mucous membranes. Repeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage.
- Ferrocyanide- (Calcium potassium or sodium) are permitted to be used as crystal modifiers and anti-caking agents in common salt, iodised salt and iron fortified salt in quantity not exceeding 10 mg/kg singly or in combination expressed as ferrocyanide.
- Sodium aluminosilicate – An irritant to skin, eyes and mucous membranes. Irritation of the eyes, skin and respiratory tract. Burns or irritation of the esophagus or GI tract. Allergies and hypersensitivity.
Whether they say natural or not, all of these substances are actually man made, with some ingredients POSSIBLY coming from nature. As they are processed, they become man made chemicals, at which time they become unrecognizable to our body. Once ingested, our body needs to do something with them, so they get sent to the liver for detoxification. The liver cleans what it can, then stores the rest in our fatty tissue. This over works our liver, creates fatigue, joint pain, allergies and a host of other issues.
Whether or not they are “safe” isn’t the issue. The issue is, the human body was NEVER meant to ingest and absorb these unnatural substances. As I always say, avoid packaged/refined food and stick with real whole food. That’s your best bet.