Dodge a bullet and know your numbers!

Especially if you're choosing baby formulas and foods - scroll down for Acetates.

Preservatives can be both natural or synthetic. The majority are synthetically manufactured and added to food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and bodycare products to extend shelf life.  (Natural examples include benzoic acid, asorbic acid (vitamin c), salt, sugar, vinegar.)

There to inhibit the growth of moulds and bacteria, prevent oxidation and preserve the colour and flavour of food. But for many, those extra additive numbers can make a big difference - not just to the food but how you react to it. 

Synthetic preservatives can cause adverse reaction in some people – the most likely ones are the Sulphites Benzoates and Nitrates but not exclusively. From potential endocrine-disruption to cancer-causing - preservatives like many other chemicals can have negative long term health effects. Awareness & Avoidance is the best everytime.

Ultimately reducing the TOXIC LOAD of synthetic chemicals and avoiding processed food is the goal!

Sulphites are linked to symptoms including, nasal congestion, sneezing, asthma and hives. Benzoates symptoms can be skin rashes, facial swelling, hives and/or asthma. For detailed further info on these top 3 - go to their separate links to see more.

Children with hyperactivity or big mood swings may also be reacting to artificial preservatives in foods.



(sorbic acid, sodium sorbate, potassium sorbate, calcium sorbate)


skin irritant, contact dermatitis, asthma, behavioural problems. 1

Baked goods (breads, cakes, doughnuts, muffins, pies, pikelets)

Baking mixes, cake mixes and doughs

Confectionary, artificially sweetened

Dairy products (cheeses, dips, yoghurt, sour cream)

Diet drinks

Dried fruits (prunes, raisins)

Dried meats

Fruit products (drinks and juices, jams, jellies, fillings)

Herbal supplements

Icing and toppings


Mayonnaise and salad dressings

Relishes, pickles, olives and sauerkraut

Salads, packaged

Sausage casing

Smoked & salted fish

Wines, champagne and ciders


(see Benzoates entry for further information)


(benzoic acid, sodium benzoate, potassium benzoate, calcium benzoate)

asthma, hives, behavioural problems, hyper, eye and skin irritation. 1

Cordials & soft drinks

Fruit products (dried fruit, jams, juices, fillings)


Relishes, pickles, olives & sauerkraut

Salads, packaged

Salad dressings



(propylparaben, methylparaben, ethylparaben, butylparaben, isopropylparaben and isobutylparaben)

asthma, itchy skin, hives, swelling, redness. potential endocrine disruption and increase cancer risk. 1

Bakery products and baked goods

Cosmetics and personal care products (shampoos, lotions, shaving gels, toothpastes etc etc)

Flavour extracts and food colourings

Fruit products (jams, jellies, juices, fillings, syrups)

Marinated & smoked fish

Pickles, Olives and relishes

Salad dressings



(see Sulphites entry for further information)


(sulphur dioxide, sodium sulphite, sodium bisulphite, sodium metabisulphate, potassium sulphite, potassium bisulphate)


known to provoke asthma attacks, bronchospasms (coughing, wheezing) and difficult to metabolise for those with impaired kidney function, also destroys vitamin A and B1 in foods. 1

Alcoholic beverages (esp beer, wine, distilled liquors)

Baked goods (biscuits, crackers, pies & pastries, tortillas, crepes and waffles)

Coconut, shredded and desiccated

Confectionary, sweets & lollies


Dried citrus fruit beverage mixes

Dried fruits (eg. apricots) and vegetables

Drinks containing sugar or corn syrup

Fish and shellfish products (prawns, lobster clams, smoked salmon)

As well as glue, disinfectant , hair dyes,

Fruit juices (canned, frozen and bottled)

Fruit products (fillings, jams and jellies)

Hamburger patties

Icing and frostings

Pickles, olives and relishes

Potato & corn chips

Processed cheese products


Salad dressings


Soft drinks

Soy products (tofu, TVP, infant formulas)

Sugar (brown, white, powdered, raw)

Wine vinegar


(see Nitrates entry for further information)


(potassium nitrite, sodium nitrite, sodium nitrate, potassium nitrate)

nausea, dizziness, headaches, migraines - not permitted in baby foods under 6 mths. 1

Processed, canned & cured meats – bacon, bologna, corned beef, ham, hot dogs, salami, sausages

Smoked meats, fish & poultry

cheese & cheese products



(acetic acid, potassium acetate/diacetate, calcium acetate, ammonium acetate)

acetic acid is the main component of vinegar but can also be synthetically produced from wood fibres

skin & eye irritation, hives, rashes. 1

Foods for infants & Infant/Baby Formulas

Breads, cakes, and baked goods

Butter, cheese and margarine

Cake mixes, puddings and pie fillings

Curry powder

Cooking oil

Crisps and snack foods

Fish fingers

Pickles, relishes and sauces



(propionic acid, sodium propionate, calcium propionate, potassium propionate)

migraines, headaches, skin irritation, asthma, behavioural problems and aggression. 1

Breads, doughs & pizza crusts


Confectionary, sweets & lollies


Jams and jellies

Meat products (eg pies, sausage rolls)

Non-alcholic beverages

Puddings and pie fillings

Nisin 234 & Natamycin 235

formed from bacteria thought to cause antibiotic resistance, diarrhoea, skin irritation. 1

Beer, processed cheese, dairy products (cottage cheese, sour cream, yoghurt etc), canned vegetables, fruit juices (coconut cream/milk & tomato paste) and uncooked fermented manufactured meats

Calcium Disodium EDTA 385

muscle cramps, blood in urine, intestinal upset, kidney damage, can increase uptake of heavy metals, may affect liver and reproduction. 1

Canned fish foods, fruit drinks, flavoured drinks, sauces and toppings. Recently found this in our favourite Best Foods mayo :( 


1. For a full extended list of each preservative, additive & colouring, see The Chemical Maze by Bill Statham

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