In this day and age, we as food consumers have more options than ever before. This can be a good thing, if you know what you’re looking at. It also means we have a lot more garbage to wade through just to figure out what products are ACTUALLY good for us to eat. We believe that nutrition is truly universal. These tips are applicable to any product with an ingredient list. That means it’s important for you AND your fur-family!
What is a preservative really? By definition, it’s listed as "An additive. It’s used to protect against decay, discoloration, or spoilage. This concept helps humans make our food last longer. The problem is, over time, we have continually increased how long foods need to be preserved for. The salt brine we used in the 1800’s doesn’t quite cut it for most modern-day manufacturers.
As a result, the chemical compound industry has seen many "scientific breakthroughs." They contribute to how our food is preserved today. The "breakthroughs" however, focused on how a particular chemical reacts in food. This helps preserve it. They weren’t looking at how that chemical will react inside a human body when consumed. We have really just started studying that publicly in the last 20 years.
Preservative research on humans has only become prevalent in the last 20 years. How much research do you think goes into our pet’s food? Not enough.
With that in mind, here is a list of 6 common preservatives, and why to avoid them:
1. Brominated Vegetable Oil
Found in: Flame Retardants and Citrus Soda Pop
The Bad: It can build up in the body and can cause neurological problems, reproductive problems, and skin lesions. Cases of bromine intoxication in humans have caused headaches, fatigue, memory loss, ulcers, and a loss of muscle coordination.
2. Sodium Nitrite and Nitrate
Found in: Fertilizer, Rocket Propellant and Lunch Meats The Bad: Cooking these meats at high temperatures and ingesting them could lead to the formation of nitrosamines, which is a carcinogen. They have been linked to leukemia, colon, bladder, and pancreatic cancer.
3. BHA, BHT, and TBHQ
Found in: Embalming Fluid and Potato Chips The Bad: These substances are classified by the Department of Health and Human Services as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”
4. Propyl Gallate
Found in: Pesticides, Lipstick and Chewing Gum The Bad: In a study by the National Toxicology Program, rats fed Propyl Gallate had lower body weights than average, tumors, and malignant lymphoma. Those with asthma, liver or kidney problems, or an allergy to aspirin should especially avoid it.
5. Sodium Benzoate, Benzoic Acid
Found in: Explosive Fireworks and Pickles The Bad: When sodium benzoate combines with vitamin C in foods, it can create benzene, a carcinogen that causes leukemia and other cancers. The risk is low, but it’s there.
6. Sulfites (Sodium Bisulfite, Sulfur Dioxide)
Found in: Volcanoes and Dried Fruit The Bad: The FDA estimates that more than a million people are allergic to sulfites, mainly asthmatics, and that they can cause mild to severe reactions such as difficulty breathing, headaches, and anaphylactic shock.
Generally, the only acceptable preservatives amongst the health community are Lecithin and Tocopherol. Both are considered natural preservatives, although still not purely natural as you may expect as they are derivatives. Our body and our pet’s body are literally chemical factories. Everything we put into them will directly affect our quality of life. So next time something says "all natural" or "preservative-free," flip the package over. Make sure you know what you’re about to eat or feed your fur-friends!