Saturday, April 18, 2015
Colouring additives in the spotlight during Food Allergy Awareness Week
With national food allergy awareness week starting in Australia on May 17, consumers will have a growing focus on what additives are included in our food.
Eggs are often cited as a source of allergic reactions – but it may not be eggs which are the problem.
Colouring additives in poultry feed
All major egg producers and many small ones, even those which claim to be free range and organic
- use colouring additives in the feed they give their hens.
Their use is completely unnecessary in a free range flock, as hens running on quality pasture and at
low stocking densities will obtain enough carotenoids from the green feed in the paddock to
maintain good yolk colour. The colour will vary – depending on the time of year and what each hen
has been eating – but many egg producers want to con consumers by using additives to provide
consistent, bright yolk colour.
Many of those additives are synthetic-adding to the chemical cocktail mix in food. But even those
which are claimed to be 'natural' are manufactured in factories – often in China. What the
manufacturers mean by using the word 'natural' is that the additives may be derived from natural
products but are processed and concentrated into a powder or liquid.
Three of the most widely used egg yolk pigmenters are:
Canthaxanin or Canthaxanthin which appears to be an unsafe additive. It can cause diarrhoea,
nausea, stomach cramps, dry and itchy skin, hives, orange or red body secretions, and other side
Do not use canthaxanthin if you experience breathing problems; tightness in the chest; swelling of
the mouth, tongue or throat; a skin rash or hives; you are pregnant or breast-feeding or you are
allergic to vitamin A or carotenoids.
Allergic reactions to capsicum may occur. Stop eating eggs with capsicum-based colouring and seek
emergency medical attention if you experience symptoms of a serious allergic reaction including
difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives.
Other less serious side effects have also been reported. Talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health
care provider if you experience upset stomach; heartburn; diarrhoea; migraine attacks or burning
sensation in the mouth or throat.
Use of Capsicum is not recommended if you are pregnant. If you are or will be breast-feeding while
eating food containing Capsicum, check with your doctor or pharmacist to discuss the risks to your
Capsicum colourings can bring on anaphylactic shock. See details about which plants generate
these problems on this site at the University of Maryland:
Some people experience breathing problems, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, tongue
or throat. A skin rash or hives may occur.
From the Auckland Allergy Clinic
Article written: September 2001
Salicylate sensitivity is the body’s inability to handle more than a certain amount of salicylates
at any one time. A salicylate sensitive person may have difficulty tolerating certain fruits or
What are salicylates?
Salicylate is a natural chemical made by many plants. It is chemically related to aspirin, which
is a derivative of salicylic acid. It is believed the plant uses it as protection from insects, and
they are everywhere around us.
Although natural salicylates are found in wholesome foods, some individuals have difficulty
tolerating even small amounts of them. The reaction to a natural salicylate can be as severe as
that to a synthetic additive if the person is highly sensitive. Some people are troubled by only
a very few, but some are troubled by all of them.
What is salicylate sensitivity?
Some adults and children have a low level of tolerance to salicylates and may get symptoms
that are dose-related. The tolerated amount varies from one person to another. This is an
example of food intolerance.
What are some of the symptoms of Salicylate Intolerance?
• Chronic Urticaria & Angioedema
• Trigger for Eczema
• Nasal Polyps
• Rhino conjunctivitis
• Stomach aches and upsets
Foods containing Salicylates
Salicylates occur naturally in many fruits, and vegetables as a preservative, to prevent rotting
and protect against harmful bacteria and fungi. They are stored in the bark, leaves, roots, and
seeds of plants. Salicylates are found naturally in many foods and its compounds are used in
All fresh meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, cereals, bread are naturally low in
Foods with very high Salicylate content include:
Capsicum Hot Peppers
Capsaicin is the active component of Capsicum. Pure capsaicin is a volatile, hydrophobic,
colourless, odourless, crystalline to waxy compound.
A UK report on The Adverse Effects of Food Additives on Health, published in the Journal of
Orthomolecular Medicine described surveys on food intolerance which showed that as many as 2 in
10 people believe that they react badly to certain foods or to their constituents, whereas less than 2
in every 100 has been considered to be the official figure.
However, a recently published report indicates that small children are much more likely to react to
certain foods. Although the exact numbers are not known, surveys suggest that one child in 10 may
be affected in some way
Of the nearly 4000 different additives currently in use, over 3640 are used purely for cosmetic
reasons and as colouring agents.
The continued reason for the use of additives is based on the argument that they are present in foods
on such a minute scale that they must be harmless.
This argument may be almost acceptable regarding additives with a reversible toxicological action.
However, with additives which have been found to be both mutagenic and carcinogenic, neither the
human nor animal body is able to detoxify. Therefore even very minute doses of these additives,
when consumed continuously, will eventually result in an irreversible toxic burden, resulting finally
in cancer formation and/or in chromosomal and foetal damage. This is unacceptable, particularly as
the majority of these dangerous agents belong to the food colouring group.
The full report is available here:
An allergy is a hypersensitity disorder of the immune system. Allergic reactions occur when a
person's immune system reacts to normally harmless substances in the environment. A substance
that causes a reaction is called an allergen. These reactions are acquired, predictable, and rapid.
Allergy is one of four forms of hypersensitivity and is formally called type 1 hypersensitivity.
Allergic reactions are distinctive because of excessive activation of certain white blood cells.
Mild allergies like hay fever are very common in humans but allergies can play a major role in
conditions such as asthma. In some people, severe allergies to environmental or dietary allergens
may result in life-threatening reactions called anaphylaxis.
From a Food Additive Guide
Capsanthin, found in paprika extract, is a red to orange coloured spice
derived from the pods and seeds of the red pepper (Capsicum annuum).
Contains vitamins A, B, C and traces of Zn, Cu, Se, Co, Mo, etc. Paprika
extract also contains capsanthin. Capsanthin may be added to poultry feed to
enhance egg yolk colour.
Typical products include eggs, meat products.
Not listed in Australia. Avoid it.