Have you ever wondered what all those numbers meant on the nutritional and ingredient labels of the products you might buy at the supermarket? Ever wondered whether they were good, bad or indifferent for your body?

The numbers represent additives and will generally symbolise either an artificial color, a preservative, flavour enhancer or antioxidant. These are not the good antioxidants but instead chemicals which help stop food stuffs oxidising.

addictive preservativeThe various additives to avoid can be particularly damaging to children and may be the cause of many behavioral issues and health problems experienced by children. A recent UK Government sponsored study showed causal links between certain additives and children’s mood swings, temper tantrums, poor concentration, sleeping problems, itchiness, asthma, rashes and food allergies.

The most obvious offenders were the artificial colours 102, 104, 110, 122, 124, 129 and 211. While additives are prevalent in commercially produced cakes and pastries, chips, lollies and biscuits they are also contained in many other processed food items. It is necessary to be most vigilant and avoid consumption whenever possible.

As a guide avoid the following:

Artificial Colours

  • 102 tartrazine
  • 104 quinoline yellow
  • 107 yellow 2G
  • 110 sunset yellow
  • 122 carmoisine
  • 123 amaranth
  • 124 ponceau
  • 127 erythrosine
  • 129 allura red
  • 132 indigotine
  • 133 brilliant blue
  • 142 food green


  • 200-203 sorbic acid and sorbates
  • 210-213 benzoic acid and benzoates
  • 220-228 sulphur dioxide and sulphites
  • 249-252 nitrates, nitrites
  • 280-283 propionic acid and propionates

Flavour Enhancers

  • 620-625 Glutamates, MSG, HVP, HPP
  • 627 Disodium guanylate
  • 631 Disodium inosinate
  • 635 Ribonucleotides


  • 310-312 gallates
  • 319 TBHQ
  • 320 BHA
  • 321 BHT
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