App of the Week: Food additive guide

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 October, 2012, 9:44am

Foodditive - Food Additive Guide


Rating 9/10

I'm pretty careful about what I eat and use on my skin. I spend more time in the supermarket than most people I know because I'm always stopping to read the labels. I might Google an ingredient if I'm not familiar with it, but if I come across something I can't pronounce - or if it sounds plain nasty - I don't bother checking it out and just place the product back on the shelf. When I found out about Foodditive, I was intrigued. Here was an app I could use on shopping trips, to get the scoop on all kinds of additives. No more need to Google in the supermarket aisle.

I have the app ready whenever I go shopping. I can search an additive by classification or by its E number, and find out how it's made and what it's used in. Sometimes, I am amazed by what I find. For example, I used to think that E307 - or alpha-Tocopherol - was toxic, simply because it had a fancy-sounding chemical name. But when I looked it up on Foodditive, I was surprised to discover that this synthetic form of vitamin E, used in cheese, soups and vitamin E-enriched foods, is generally safe for consumption and causes no adverse reactions as long as it is used within approved guidelines. And who would have thought that the innocent-sounding carnauba wax (E903), which is sometimes used in cosmetic products, could trigger dermal eczema in people with super-sensitive skin, like me? And that carrageenan (E407), a natural-derived thickener and stabiliser that I always thought was pretty safe, is a suspected carcinogen?

If you know or have a hunch that you're allergic to a particular ingredient, you can mark it as such on Foodditive, making note of any adverse reactions you experience when you consume foods containing that ingredient. Then, the next time you're out grocery shopping, you can refer to your list of ingredients to avoid. You can also check if each ingredient meets your dietary restrictions, including halal, vegan, vegetarian, kosher and gluten-free.

Foodditive is user-friendly and written in straightforward language. It even includes links to reputable online sources in case you wish to research a particular ingredient further.