This week we finish our Faking It series. To conclude, we talked with Robert Freeborn, a graduate student at Michigan State University in the Rockwell Lab. He’s looked at how the presence of a food additive effects the efficacy of flu vaccines. While we were talking about his research, we also asked a few other questions about food additives: why are they there, are they all bad, and what can we do to learn more?
“Anything added to food that is not already in the food is a food additive. Typically this is some sort of coloring or flavor or preservative or even contamination from packaging. And it can be good or bad. You could have vitamins or minerals or…preservatives.”
“Anything that makes it into the food supply falls into two categories. It’s either going to be a food additive or a GRAS compound…typically any food additive is going to have the full gambit of toxicology studies done.”
“A lot of the compounds, like TBHQ, when it was put on the market, back in 1962, at that point we knew very little about the immune system. So immunotoxicology, as a field has been rapidly developing. So we’re learning to do more and more and needing to more risk assessments. “
“I would rather have a safe food supply, with the knowledge that right now things are ok, and if emerging evidence shows that there are potential hazards, then consider that. But I think having a safe food supply, there’s something to be said for that.”
Here’s an article from MSU on Robert’s research.
Robert mentioned a few databases that you can go to for more information. The most comprehensive one is from the FDA.