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E Additives

Instead of going into detail about each one that may have detrimental effects, below we will just list the suspect or potentially dangerous ones. Many E-additives are based on natural products and are perfectly safe, such as Ascorbic acid better known as Vitamin C.

Below are listed the most suspect, those in bold even more so. Not everyone will be susceptible to the symptoms, but all of these should be treat with suspicion. The ones in bold are detailed below.

Name (Number) Function

Acesulfame K (E950) Artificial Sweetener, flavour enhancer
Allura Red AC (E129) Colouring (Orange/Red)
Aluminium (E173) Colouring (metallic)
Amaranth (E123) Colouring (bluish red) [lipstick and rouge]
Ammonia Caramel (E150c) Colouring (dark brown to black)
Aspartame (E951) Artificial Sweetener, flavour enhancer
Azourbine (E122) Colouring (Red)
Benzoic Acid (E210) Preservative, flavouring
BHA (E320) Antioxidant, preservative
BHT (E321) Antioxidant, preservative

Biphenyl (E230) Antifungal, preservative
Boric Acid (E284) Preservative, Oral care agent
Brilliant Black (E151) Colouring (Black)
Brilliant Blue( E133) Colouring (bright blue)
Brown FK (E154) Colouring (brown)

Brown HT (E155) Colouring (brown)
Calcium Benzoate (E321) Preservative
Calcium hydrogen Sulphite (E227) Preservative, firming agent
Calcium 5 ribonucleotides (E634) Flavour enhancer
Calcium Sulphite (E226) Preservative, firming agent
Carrageenan (E407) Thickener, Vegetable Gum
Cochineal (E120) Colouring (red)
Cyclamic Acid (E952) Artificial sweetener, flavour enhancer
EDTA (E385) Preservative, sequestrant
Erythrosine (E127) Colouring (bluish pink)
Ethyl p- hydroxybenzoate (E214) Preservative
Ferrous gluconate (E579) Colour retention agent, flavouring
Green S (E142) Colouring (green)
Hexamethylene tetramine (E239) Preservative
4-Hexylresorcinol (E586) Antioxidant, anti-browning agent
Indigotine (E132) Colouring (moderate bright green)
Litholrubine BK (E180) Colouring (reddish)
Mannitol (E421) Sweetener, humectant
Methyl p- hydroxybenzoate (E218) Preservative
Monopotassium glutamate (E622) Flavour enhancer
Monosodium glutamate (E621) Flavour enhancer
Natamycin (E235) Preservative
Orthophenyl phenol (E231) Preservative
Patent Blue V (E131) Colouring (bluish violet)
Polysorbate 20 (E432) Emulsifier, stabiliser
Polysorbate 80 (E433) Emulsifier, stabiliser
Polysorbate 40 (E434) Emulsifier
Polysorbate 60 (E435) Emulsifier, stabiliser
Polysorbate 65 (E436) Emulsifier
Polyvinylpolypyrrolidone (E1202) Clarifying agent
Polyvinylpyrrolidone (E1202) Clarifying agent, stabiliser
Ponceau 4R (E124) Colouring (red)
Potassium benzoate (E212) Preservative
Potassium hydrogen sulphite (E228) Preservative
Potassium metabisulphite (E224) Preservative, antioxidant
Potassium nitrate (E252) Preservative, colour fixative
Potassium nitrite (E249) Preservative, colour fixative
Propane -1,2-diol (E1520) Humectant, solvent
Propyl p- hydroxybenzoate (E216) Preservative
Quinoline Yellow (E104) Colouring (dull to greenish yellow)
Red 2G (E128) Colouring (red)
Saccharin (E954) Artificial sweetener
Salt of aspartame (E962) Artificial sweetener
Sodium benzoate (E211) Preservative
Sodium ethyl p-hydroxybenzoate (E215) Preservative
Sodium hydrogen sulphite (E222) Preservative
Sodium metabisulphite (E223) Preservative
Sodium methyl p-hydroxybenzoate (E219) Preservative
Sodium nitrate (E251) Preservative
Sodium nitrite (E339) Acidity regulator, emulsifier
Sodium orthpophenyl phenol (E232) Preservative, Antifungal
Sodium tetraborate (E285) Preservative
Starch aluminium succinate (E1452) Thickener
Sulphur dioxide (E220) Preservative
Sunset Yellow FCF (E110) Colouring (orange/yellow)
Talc (magnesium sulphate) (E553b) Anticaking Agent
Tartrazine (E102) Colouring (lemon-yellow to orange)
Tertiary butyl hydroquinone (E319) Antioxidant


That’s just the bad ones, there are a group of suspicious ones, and a large group of perfectly harmless E additives, the important thing here is that an E designation shows it has passed EU food safety standards. Also bear in mind most of the really bad ones are colourings that go into children’s sweets and cakes. We will briefly look at some of the symptoms associated with the ones above in bold (the particularly bad ones)

Hyperactivity; hives; asthma; rhinitis; may affect reproduction, liver, kidneys, birth defects, carcinogen; teratogen; aspirin sensitive people may wish to avoid

Headache; depression; anxiety; asthma; fatigue; hyperactivity; MS like symptoms; blindness; migraine; insomnia; dizziness; irritability; epilepsy; memory loss; seizures; not recommended for women during pregnancy; teratogenic. Over 92 potential symptoms in all

BHA (Butylated hydoxyanisole)
Hives; somnolence; hay fever; headache; wheezing; fatigue; asthma; NRC; may affect liver, kidneys, thyroid, stomach, reproduction, hormone disruption; carcinogenic; teratogen

BHT (Butylated hydroxy toluene)
Chronic hives; dermatitis; fatigue; asthma; aggressive behaviour; bronchospasm; NRC; may affect reproduction, kidneys, stomach, liver; harmful to aquatic organisms
Biphenyl (diphenyl) – Banned in some Countries
Eye and nasal irritation; vomiting; nausea; CNS depression; liver, kidney, respiratory, cardiovascular and neurotoxicity

Boric acid
Severe poisonings have occurred after ingestion or application to abraded skin; kidney, cardiovascular, reproductive, liver and neurotoxicity

Brilliant black BN – Banned in many Countries
Asthma; hyperactivity; may affect kidneys, stomach; NRC; carcinogenic

Brilliant blue FCF – Banned in some Countries
Asthma; hives; hay fever; allergic reactions; NRC; aspirin sensitive people may wish to avoid; carcinogenic

Brown FK
Asthma; allergic reactions; hives; may affect heart, kidneys, liver, thyroid; aspirin sensitive people may wish to avoid; NRC

Erythrosine – Banned in some Countries
Asthma; hyperactivity; hives; learning difficulties; light sensitivity; may affect liver, heart, thyroid, reproduction, stomach; carcinogenic

Hives; pruritis; NRC; eczema; nausea; diarrhoea; diluesis; headache; mutagenic; carcinogenic; teratogenic

Sunset yellow FCF – banned in some Countries
Asthma; hives; hay fever; abdominal pain; hyperactivity; aspirin sensitive people may wish to avoid; carcinogenic

Teratogenic – Able to disturb the growth and development of an embryo or foetus.
NRC – Not Recommended for Children

The following additives should be viewed with some suspicion and their potential effects understood:

E414, 1422, 1414, 1451, 1420, 355, 523, 556, 552, 559, 521, 520, 527, 558, 943a, 623, 578, 327, 529, 282, 203, 161g, 466, 150b, 330(Citric acid), 468, 900, 627, 631, 1412, 312, 465, 620, 445, 1442, 1440, 1103, 172, 943b, 416, 425, 1105, 624, 1410, 912, 234, 311, 914, 1404, 1413, 338, 150a, polyethylene glycol 600 (no E number), 431, 555, 501, 508, 536, 525, 283, 202, 336, 407a, 944, 405, 280, 310, 174(silver), 541, 554, 500, 281, 514, 200, 420, 426, 512, 1450, 483, 955, 150d, 171(Titanium dioxide), 413, 153

For completeness the following are generally regarded as safe in food use (only):

E260(Acetic acid), 406(Agar), 400, 307, 403, 503, 442, 517, 103, 938(Argon), 300(Vitamin C), 901(Beeswax), 162(Beetroot red), 160e(Beta carotene), 459, 263, 404, 302, 170(Calcium carbonate), 509, 333, 538, 629, 526, 633, 352, 241, 552, 482, 516(Calcium sulphate), 3554, 902, 927b, 290(Carbon dioxide), 903, 160a, 460(Cellulose), 140, 472c, 141, 100, 309(Vitamin E), 242, 450, 628, 632, 315, 968, 462, 100f, 304, 570, 585, 297, 308, 418, 574, 575, 422(Glycerol), 1518, 640, 175(Gold), 626, 412(Guar gum), 939(Helium), 507, 949(Hydrogen), 463, 464, 630, 953, 270(Lactic acid), 472b, 966, 322, 410, 161b, 160d, 504, 511, 625, 528, 530, 343, 470b, 553a, 296, 965, 353, 461, 905, 472f, 472e, 471, 959, 941(Nitrogen), 942, 948(Oxygen), 160c, 440, 1200, 475, 476, 452, 261, 357, 402, 332, 577, 326, 577, 326, 351, 340, 515, 477, 1204, 999, 102(Vitamin B2), 904, 551, 262, 356, 401, 301, 331, 316, 535, 576, 524, 325, 350, 339, 470a, 337, 481, 335, 491, 492, 493, 494, 485, 363, 474, 444, 473, 513, 417, 334, 472d, 957, 479b, 306, 380, 1505, 451, 415, 967, 650

If it’s not on these lists check it out on google!

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