Additives are substances added to foods to change or enhance colors, tastes, textures, or to extend shelf life. Vitamins, minerals, and fiber used to enrich or fortify foods are also considered additives. The FDA has approved all additives used in food that is safe for consumption, but many still worry about how additives may affect our health. Some additives can cause allergic reactions and many are suspected to cause cancer, asthma and birth defects.
There are two types of additives: natural and artificial. Natural food additives are derived from natural sources such as food or animal products, ranging from fruits and plants to animal lard and insects, while artificial additives are made synthetically. Although you may be more willing to buy a product with "Natural Flavors" than one with "Artificial Flavors," natural food additives may have been so chemically altered that they are no healthier or safer than their artificial counterparts.
Look for No Additives if you are trying to avoid food additives.