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Why are additives used in food?

We often come across the idea that pre-packaged foods contain many harmful chemicals, creating anxiety about their potential impact on our short- and long-term health. However, rest assured that all compounds found in packaged foods have gone through a strict safety review and approval process by health authorities in each country where the products are sold.

The WHO works in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to set standards for the food additive approval process. A committee of experts, known as the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) evaluates all scientific evidence surrounding a food additive to ensure it will not have an adverse impact on health. It also establishes as a starting point the "acceptable daily intake" for such a component, defined as "the amount of the substance present in food or drinking water that a person can ingest daily over a lifetime without posing a significant health risk." This evaluation and approval process can take many years since it is essential to ensure that the evaluated component will not generate problems of any kind to general public’s health. Once evaluation is complete, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, another joint program between WHO and FAO, codifies guidelines for the additive’s safe usage in what’s known as the General Standard for Food Additives.

The approval process for additives is complex and full of sound science so that consumers can be sure their food will not cause them any harm. Additives serve a vital purpose in food, such as enhancing appearance, simplifying food processing, prolonging shelf life to minimize food waste, and guaranteeing food safety and harmlessness. For centuries, humans have used additives like yeast for baking bread and citric acid for making food more acidic. If someone tells you that an additive poses a risk, question whether this information is truthful and look for reliable sources.

The food industry can only use additives allowed and approved by various international and national agencies charged with ensuring public safety. Additives’ use is monitored and must be indicated through nutritional labels on food packaging. Because the levels of additive use are so low, even if all the additives present in one food were combined, their content would likely not exceed 2%.

You can be sure that your favorite foods will not cause you any harm, so there is nothing to fear.

At Grupo Bimbo, we only use ingredients and additives approved by international and local safety regulations. Our goal is to make our products with the simplest and most natural ingredients possible, while ensuring the safety, appearance, and flavor of our products.