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Why We Chose to Avoid E-numbers: A Case Study

By: Rachel Newcombe - Updated: 9 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
E Numbers Additives Avoid Family Health

Many people are increasingly concerned about the safety of consuming E numbers. We catch up with one family who’ve chosen to avoid E numbers for health reasons.

David and Sarah MacDonald have two children and it’s their children’s health problems that have inspired them to ditch the junk, eat more healthily and avoid E numbers. Their son has asthma and their younger daughter suffers from the skin condition eczema and other allergies. After realising that both their son and daughter’s health issues were linked to allergies, and that certain foods seemed to trigger off reactions, they made their decision to be more careful with their diets.

Avoiding E Numbers

“We first became aware of the possible link between food and health a few years ago, when our children used to have school dinners. Our daughter’s eczema seemed to be flaring up all the time and our son’s asthma was going through a bad patch. We weren’t able to totally pinpoint exactly what it was that was causing the flare ups, but as soon as we swapped from having school dinners to packed lunches, the symptoms seemed to get better.

“Since then we’ve noticed definite links between certain foods and their ingredients and the effects they can have. For example, eczema flare ups and other related skin allergies, such as hives, have occurred quite rapidly after our daughter has eaten junk food at parties or when out with other people. We have no doubt that it was what she’d eaten had the effect.

“Anyway, as we want to do the best for both our children, and reduce the negative effects their allergic conditions have on their health, we decided to make a conscious effort to avoid all junk food and anything containing E numbers and additives. It’s not always been easy, as you have to completely re-think all your old habits and look at things in a different light.

“For example, E numbers seem to included in so many items that we’ve had to search hard in some instances for alternatives. We were surprised just how many products do contain then, even things that didn’t at first look like they did. One example is supermarket bread – you go in and smell it baking and it smells natural, but then a little bit of investigating reveals it’s got preservatives added. So we now bake our own bread, using a bread machine, instead.

“Food manufacturers don’t make it very easy for consumers to be aware of what they’re eating. The ‘E’ number is supposed to be a way of identifying the chemical inclusion, but in fact a lot of labels don’t even feature E numbers anymore – they go for the big long chemical name instead, which is hard work identifying.

“Some of the products the children enjoyed have a lot of E numbers and additives in them. Although we’re definitely limiting what they consume, we do let them have treats in moderation, so if they want a soft drink with colours in it occasionally, or sweets, then it’s not totally off limits.

“On the whole, it’s all going well so far. Both kids health seem to be better and there are definitely fewer flare ups of eczema than previously. We’d definitely recommend avoiding E numbers to others in our situation.”

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