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Food Preservatives Essay

Artificial preservatives can help your food last longer without becoming contaminated with food-borne illnesses, which is the reason they're found in so many different processed foods. Although all artificial preservatives used in the United States have been deemed "generally recognized as safe" by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, not all of these additives are 100-percent safe for everyone. Some preservatives are associated with adverse effects, which can involve an unpleasant reaction in people sensitive to a particular additive or a potential increased risk for cancer.

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Artificial preservatives may act as antioxidants, make food more acidic, reduce the moisture level of food, slow down the ripening process and prevent the growth of microorganisms, all of which help the food last longer. This means you can make fewer trips to the store and have less food waste because the preservatives help minimize the amount of food you buy that goes bad before you can eat it.

Approximately one out of every six Americans get a foodborne illness each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Without artificial preservatives to limit the spread of the organisms that cause these illnesses, this number might be even higher. Some of these illnesses, such as botulism, can be deadly.

Certain preservatives, including sulfites and sodium benzoate, may cause adverse reactions in a small percentage of the population. Sulfites help limit the growth of bacteria in wine and the discoloration of dried fruit, but can cause potentially deadly allergic reactions in sensitive individuals, including rashes, low blood pressure, diarrhea, flushing, abdominal pain, asthmatic reactions and anaphylactic shock. Sodium benzoate, also called benzoic acid, is used in acidic foods to keep microorganisms from growing. In sensitive individuals, it can cause asthma, hives and other allergic reactions.

Although sodium benzoate is usually considered safe for people who aren't sensitive to it, when combined with ascorbic acid in acidic foods it can produce benzene, which may slightly increase your risk for leukemia and other types of cancer, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Nitrates and nitrites, which are often used to preserve cured meats, such as lunch meat and hot dogs, may also increase your risk for certain types of cancers, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Some other preservatives have been linked to a potential increase in cancer risk, although so far the evidence for this is preliminary and conflicted. These include propyl gallate, butylated hydroxyanisole, or BHA, butylated hydroxytoluene, or BHT, and tert-butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ.

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IELTS Food Additives Essay

This food additives essay is basically an advantages and disadvantages essay. You need to be careful with the word ‘outweigh’ as this often confuses students.

The word ‘outweigh’ can be placed in different ways in the sentence so rather than work it out, it is better to think of it simply as ‘are there more advantages or disadvantages

This is the question:

Do the dangers derived from the use of chemicals in food production and preservation outweigh the advantages?

Decide what you think there are more of and then state this in the thesis statement without mentioning the word ‘outweigh’.

For example, look at the thesis statement from the food additives essay model answer:

In my opinion, the potential dangers from this are greater than the benefits we receive.

‘Outweigh’ questions do suggest, though, that there are definitely both advantages AND disadvantages, so you should discuss both.

However, make sure your essay supports your opinion. For example, if you have said there are more disadvantages, it would not make sense to then write mostly about advantages.

As you can see from the model answer, advantages are discussed, but the focus is on the disadvantages as this is what it is stated are greater in the thesis statement.

Food Additives Essay

Food Additives Essay Model Answer

Most foods that are purchased these days in small stores and supermarkets have chemicals in them as these are used to improve production and ensure the food lasts for longer. However, there are concerns that these have harmful effects.  In my opinion, the potential dangers from this are greater than the benefits we receive.

There are several reasons why chemicals are placed in food. Firstly, it is to improve the product to the eye, and this is achieved via the use of colourings which encourage people to purchase food that may otherwise not look tempting to eat. Another reason is to preserve the food. Much of the food we eat would not actually last that long if it were not for chemicals they contain, so again this is an advantage to the companies that sell food as their products have a longer shelf life.

From this evidence, it is clear to me that the main benefits are, therefore, to the companies and not to the customer. Although companies claim these food additives are safe and they have research to support this, the research is quite possibly biased as it comes from their own companies or people with connections to these companies. It is common to read reports these days in the press about possible links to various health issues such as cancer. Food additives have also been linked to problems such as hyperactivity in children.

To conclude, despite the fact that there are benefits to placing chemicals in food, I believe that these principally help the companies but could be a danger to the public. It is unlikely that this practice can be stopped, so food must be clearly labeled and it is my hope that organic products will become more readily available at reasonable prices to all.

(Words 298)

Improve your diet, fitness and health vocabulary


You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Do the dangers derived from the use of chemicals in food production and preservation outweigh the advantages?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own experience or knowledge.

Write at least 250 words.