List of food additives to avoid

chemical sensitivity salicylate sensitivity

You may have heard of ‘chemical sensitivity’ or ‘chemical intolerance’... If you are sensitive to chemicals you might adversely react to perfumes, household cleaning products and the chlorine in your pool. You could also be sensitive to food colourings, artificial favourings and preservatives. People with eczema, rosacea, psoriasis or asthma are often sensitive to food additives but it can be hard to know which ones are tame and which ones are to blame (for the itch!). 

So what types of food additives should you avoid?

Use this page to check the food chemicals in your foods. You can do this by doing a search within this list to see if you can consume it safely (on Mac: Command+F; and on PC: Ctrl+F).

For a downloadable spreadsheet version click here, for a PDF click here.

Additives sourced from Treffers S., 1999. Food Additives, Pocket Reference Series, A Pocket sized reference to their use origin and effects.  

Additive Code Additives Advice
100 Curcumin or turmeric (contains salicylates so avoid it if you are sensitive to salicylates) CAUTION
101 Riboflavin, also called lactoflavin, vitamin B2, Riboflavin-5′-phosphate OK
102 (artificial) Tartrazine, also called yellow #5, CI 19140 (yellow food colour) AVOID
103 Alkanet or Alkannin, pink (could contain salicylates) CAUTION
104 (artificial) Quinoline yellow, CI 47005 AVOID
110 (artificial) Sunset yellow FCF, yellow #6, CI 15985 AVOID
120 Cochineal or carmines or Carminic acid, red (certain people are allergic) CAUTION
122 (artificial) Azorubine or Carmoisine, CI 14720 AVOID
123 (artificial) Amaranth, also called CI 16185 AVOID
124 (artificial) Ponceau 4R, also called brilliant scarlet, CI 16255 AVOID
127 (artificial) Erythrosine, also called red #3, CI 45430 AVOID
129 (artificial) Allura red AC, also called red #40, CI 16035 AVOID
132 (artificial) Indigotine, also called indigo carmine, blue #2, CI 73015 AVOID
133 (artificial) Brilliant Blue FCF, also called blue #1, CI 42090 AVOID
140 Chlorophyll (may contain salicylates, amines or glutamates) CAUTION
141 Chlorophyll-copper complex, sodium and potassium salts (may contain salicylates or glutamates) CAUTION
142 (artificial) Green S, acid brilliant green, CI 44090 AVOID
143 (artificial) Fast green FCF, green #3, CI 42053 AVOID
150a Caramel, safest out of all caramels CAUTION
150b Caramel, may cause gastrointestinal problems CAUTION
150c Caramel, known to cause convulsions in animals CAUTION
150d Caramel CAUTION
151 (artificial) Brilliant black BN or Brilliant black PN, CI28440 AVOID
153(artificial) Carbon blacks, also calledVegetable carbon OK
155 (artificial) Brown HT,also called chocolate brown, CI 52028 AVOID
160a Carotene, or beta carotene OK
160b Annatto extracts,also called bixin, norbixin, CI 75120, AVOID
160c Paprika oleoresins (may contain salicylates, amines or glutamates) CAUTION
160d Lycopene (may contain salicylates, amines or glutamates CAUTION
160e b-apo-8′-Carotenal OK
160f b-apo-8′-Carotenoic acid methyl or ethyl ester OK
161a Flavoxanthin (may contain salicylates, amines or glutamates CAUTION
161b Lutein (may contain salicylates, amines or glutamates CAUTION
161c Kryptoxanthin (may contain salicylates, amines or glutamates CAUTION
161d Rubixanthin (may contain salicylates, amines or glutamates CAUTION
161e Violoxanthin (may contain salicylates, amines or glutamates CAUTION
161f Rhodoxanthin (may contain salicylates, amines or glutamates CAUTION
162 Beet red (may contain sodium nitrate- not suitable for infants and small children) CAUTION
163 Anthocyanins also called Grape skin extract or Blackcurrant extract, red, blue, violet (may contain salicylates, amines or glutamates) CAUTION
164 Saffron or crocetin or crocin (commercial saffron may be mixed with artificial colour 102. Pure color from the saffron plant is safe) CAUTION
170 Calcium carbonate, or mineral colour and calcium supplement CAUTION
171 Titanium dioxide, or mineral colour, white, CI 77891 OK
172 Iron oxide, red, black, yellow mineral colours, CI 77491 OK
173 Aluminum, mineral colour OK
174 Silver, mineral colour OK
175 Gold, mineral colour OK
181 Tannic acid or tannins, brown (may contain high salicylates, amines or glutamates). Large doses can cause gastric problems. CAUTION
  Preservatives - sorbates (related with food intolerance reactions)  
200 Sorbic acid (skin irritant) AVOID
201 Sodium sorbate (manufactured from sorbic acid) AVOID
202 Potassium sorbate (possible liver damage) AVOID
203 Calcium sorbate (manufactured from sorbic acid) AVOID
  Preservatives - benzoates (related with food intolerance reactions)
210 Benzoic acid (large doses can induce gastrointestinal problems) AVOID
211 Sodium benzoate (nettle rash sufferers are likely to be sensitive) AVOID
212 Potassium benzoate (nettle rash sufferers are likely to be sensitive) AVOID
213 Calcium benzoate (nettle rash sufferers are likely to be sensitive) AVOID
216 Propylparaben or Propyl-p-hydroxy-benzoate (sometimes included in medications, possible skin irritant) CAUTION
218 Methylparaben or Methyl-p-hydroxy-benzoate (sometimes included in medications) CAUTION
  Preservatives - sulphites, sulfites (are linked with intolerance reactions but particularly asthma. Not to be confused with sulphates 514-519 which are safe  
220 Sulphur dioxide, (can be fatal to asthmatics) AVOID
221 Sodium sulphite or sulfite (gastric irritation, nettle rash) AVOID
222 Sodium bisulphate or bisulfite (gastric irritation, nettle rash) AVOID
223 Sodium metabisulphite orvmetabisulfite, meta (gastric irritation, nettle rash) AVOID
224 Potassium metabisulphite, or metabisulfite, meta AVOID
225 Potassium sulphite, or sulfite AVOID
228 Potassium bisulphite, or sulfite AVOID
234 Nisin (naturally occurring antibiotic) OK
235 Natamycin or pimaricin (naturally occuring antibiotic) OK
242 Dimethyl dicarbonate (preservative reclassified as a Processing Aid, like ozone, hydrogen peroxide, lactoperoxidase, sodium thiocyanate and octanoic acid) OK
243 Ethyl lauroyl arginate (antimicrobial) OK
  Preservatives - nitrates and nitrites (also colour fixative function.  
249 Potassium nitrite (carrying ability of blood can be effected) AVOID
250 Sodium nitrite (carrying ability of blood can be effected) AVOID
251 Sodium nitrate (carrying ability of blood can be effected) AVOID
252 Potassium nitrate (potential carcinogen) AVOID
  Food acids  
260 Acetic acid, glacial OK
261 Potassium acetate also called Potassium diacetate (to be avoided by those with poor kidneys) CAUTION
262 Sodium acetate, or Sodium diacetate OK
263 Calcium acetate OK
264 Ammonium acetate OK
270 Lactic acid OK
  Preservatives - propionates (found in bakery products in Australia, UK and USA, seldom used in Europe. Hidden under names suchas ‘cultured dextrose’ and certain other ‘cultured’ ingredients)  
280 Propionic acid AVOID
281 Sodium propionate (causes possible migraines) AVOID
282 Calcium propionate (skin irritation, migraine) AVOID
283 Potassium propionate (causes possible migraines) AVOID
290 Carbon dioxide (propellant manufactured from yeast fermentation) OK
296 Malic acid (food acid) (may not be well digested by children) OK
297 Fumaric acid (food acid) OK
  Antioxidants (Gallates and TBHQ, BHA and BHT are used to preserve vegetable oils and margarines. When vegetable oils are used in other products, these antioxidants are often unlisted because of the 5% labelling loophole. BHA and BHT can also leach into products from cereal wrappers and clingfilm. Antioxidants 300-309 are failsafe)  
300 Ascorbic acid OK
301 Sodium ascorbate (synthetic sodium salt of ascorbic acid) OK
302 Calcium ascorbate (suggested avoidance for those with kidney stones) OK
303 Potassium ascorbate OK
304 Ascorbyl palmitate OK
307 α-Tocopherolalso known as Vitamin E OK
307b Tocopherols concentrate, mixed, Vitamin E OK
308 δ-Tocopherol, synthetic OK
309 γ-Tocopherol, synthetic OK
310 Propyl gallate (not permitted in foods for infants) AVOID
311 Octyl gallate (not permitted in foods for infants) AVOID
312 Dodecyl gallate (not permitted in foods for infants) AVOID
315 Erythorbic acid (from sucrose) OK
316 Sodium erythorbate OK
319 tert-Butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ (potential nausea, vomiting, dizziness) AVOID
320 Butylated hydroxyanisole, or BHA (possible carcinogen) AVOID
321 Butylated hydroxytoluene, or BHT (not permitted in foods for infants) AVOID
322 Lecithin OK
  More food acids  
325 Sodium lactate (unsuitable for very young or lactase intolerant children) OK
326 Potassium lactate (unsuitable for very young or lactase intolerant children) OK
327 Calcium lactate OK
328 Ammonium lactate (unsuitable for very young children with lactase intolerance) OK
329 Magnesium lactate (unsuitable for very young children with lactase intolerance) OK
330 Citric acid CAUTION
331 Sodium citrate or Sodium dihydrogen citrate OK
332 Potassium citrate or Potassium dihydrogen citrate OK
333 Calcium citrate OK
334 Tartaric acid (large doses can be mildly irritating) OK
335 Sodium tartrate OK
336 Potassium tartrate or Potassium acid tartrate OK
338 Phosphoric acid OK
  Mineral salts  
339 Sodium phosphate, or dibasic, or monobasic, or tribasic OK
340 Potassium phosphate, or dibasic, or monobasic, or tribasic OK
341 Calcium phosphate, dibasic or calcium hydrogen phosphate, monobasic or calcium dihydrogen phosphate, tribasic OK
342 Ammonium phosphate, also known as dibasic, monobasic or Ammonium dihydrogen phosphates OK
343 Magnesium phosphate, also known as dibasic, monobasic, tribasic OK
349 Ammonium malate OK
350 Sodium malate, also called Sodium hydrogen malate OK
351 Potassium malate OK
352 Calcium malate OK
353 Metatartaric acid OK
354 Calcium tartrate OK
355 Adipic acid OK
357 Potassium adipate OK
359 Ammonium adipates OK
363 Succinic acid OK
365 Sodium fumarate OK
366 Potassium fumarate OK
367 Calcium fumarate OK
368 Ammonium fumarate OK
380 Ammonium citrate, or Triammonium citrate OK
381 Ferric ammonium citrate OK
385 Calcium disodium ethylenediaminetetraacetate or calcium disodium EDTA OK
  Vegetable gums and thickeners  
400 Alginic acid OK
401 Sodium alginate OK
402 Potassium alginate OK
403 Ammonium alginate OK
404 Calcium alginate OK
405 Propylene glycol alginate OK
406 Agar (large amounts can cause stomach bloating and gas) OK
407 Carrageenan (may be carcinogenic) AVOID
407a Processed eucheuma or seaweed OK
409 Arabinogalactan or larch gum OK
410 Locust bean gum also known as carob bean gum OK
412 Guar gum OK
413 Tragacanth gum (large amounts can cause stomach bloating and gas) OK
414 Acacia or gum Arabic OK
415 Xanthan gum OK
416 Karaya gum OK
417 Tara gum OK
418 Gellan gum OK
  Humectants also used as sweeteners (overconsumption may cause laxative effects)
420 Sorbitol or sorbitol syrup (over consumption may have a laxative effect) CAUTION
421 Mannitol (over consumption may have a laxative effect) CAUTION
422 Glycerin or glycerol OK
  Emulsifiers OK
431 Polyoxyethylene (40) stearate OK
433 Polysorbate 80 or Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monooleate OK
435 Polysorbate 60 or Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monostearate OK
436 Polysorbate 65 or Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan tristearate OK
440 Pectin OK
442 Ammonium salts of phosphatidic acid OK
444 Sucrose acetate isobutyrate OK
445 Glycerol esters of wood rosins OK
  More mineral salts  
450 Pyrophosphates, Potassium pyrophosphate, Sodium acid pyrophosphate, Sodium pyrophosphate OK
451 Triphosphates, Potassium tripolyphosphate, Sodium tripolyphosphate OK
452 Polyphosphates, Potassium polymetaphosphate, Sodium metaphosphate, insoluble, Sodium polyphosphates, glassy OK
  Thickeners
455 Yeast mannoproteins OK
460 Cellulose microcrystalline (anti-caking agent) OK
460 Cellulose, powdered (anti-caking agent) OK
461 Methyl cellulose OK
463 Hydroxypropyl cellulose OK
464 Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose OK
465 Methyl ethyl cellulose OK
466 Sodium carboxymethylcellulose (large amounts can cause stomach bloating and gas, suspected carcinogen) CAUTION
  Emulsifiers  
470 Fatty acid salts of aluminium, ammonia, calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium(can irritate bowel lining and skin) CAUTION
471 Mono- and di-glycerides of fatty acids OK
472a Acetic and fatty acid esters of glycerol OK
472b Lactic and fatty acid esters of glycerol OK
472c Citric and fatty acid esters of glycerol OK
472e Diacetyltartaric and fatty acid esters of glycerol OK
472f Mixed tartaric, acetic and fatty acid esters of glycerol or tartaric, acetic and fatty acid esters of glycerol (mixed) OK
473 Sucrose esters of fatty acids OK
475 Polyglycerol esters of fatty acids OK
476 Polyglycerol esters of interesterified ricinoleic acid OK
477 Propylene glycol mono- and di-esters or Propylene glycol esters of fatty acids OK
480 Dioctyl sodium sulphosuccinate OK
481 Sodium lactylate, oleyl lactylate, stearoyl lactylate OK
482 Calcium lactylate, oleyl lactylate, stearoyl lactylate OK
491 Sorbitan monostearate OK
492 Sorbitan tristearate OK
  Mineral salts (often used as anti-caking agents too)  
500 Sodium bicarbonate or Sodium carbonate OK
501 Potassium bicarbonate or Potassium carbonate OK
503 Ammonium carbonate or Ammonium hydrogen carbonate OK
504 Magnesium carbonate OK
507 Hydrochloric acid OK
508 Potassium chloride (Large amounts associated with gastric ulcers, should not be given to children) CAUTION
509 Calcium chloride (possible stomach irritant) CAUTION
510 Ammonium chloride (large amounts can cause acidosis) CAUTION
511 Magnesium chloride OK
512 Stannous chloride OK
514 Sodium sulphate OK
515 Potassium sulphate OK
516 Calcium sulphate OK
518 Magnesium sulphate (laxative) OK
519 Cupric sulphate CAUTION
526 Calcium hydroxide OK
529 Calcium oxide OK
530 Magnesium oxide OK
535 Sodium ferrocyanide OK
536 Potassium ferrocyanide OK
541 Sodium aluminium phosphate OK
542 Bone phosphate (vegetarians may want to avoid) OK
551 Silicon dioxide, amorphous OK
552 Calcium silicate OK
553 Magnesium silicate or Talc (suspected carcinogen) CAUTION
554 Sodium aluminosilicate (high intake associated with Alzheimer’s and nerve damage because of aluminum salts) CAUTION
555 Potassium aluminium silicate OK
556 Calcium aluminium silicate (high intake associated with Alzheimer’s and nerve damage because of aluminum salts) CAUTION
558 Bentonite OK
559 Aluminium silicate OK
560 Potassium silicate OK
570 Stearic acid or fatty acid OK
575 Glucono δ-lactone or Glucono delta-lactone OK
576 Sodium gluconate OK
577 Potassium gluconate OK
578 Calcium gluconate OK
579 Ferrous gluconate OK
580 Magnesium gluconate OK
586 4-hexylresorcinol OK
  Flavour enhancers, glutamates and glutamate boosters (often hidden as yeast extract, hydrolysed vegetable protein HVP or hydrolysed plant protein HPP  
620 L-glutamic acid (unsuitable for infants and small children) AVOID
621 Monosodium L-glutamate or MSG (unsuitable for infants and small children) AVOID
622 Monopotassium L-glutamate (allergic responses-nausea, vomiting) AVOID
623 Calcium glutamate AVOID
624 Monoammonium L-glutamate AVOID
625 Magnesium glutamate AVOID
627 Disodium-5′-guanylate (prohibited in foods for infants or young children) AVOID
631 Disodium-5′-inosinate (prohibited in foods for infants or young children) AVOID
635 Disodium-5′-ribonucleotides AVOID
636 Maltol (naturally occurring flavour enhancer) OK
637 Ethyl maltol OK
640 Glycine OK
641 L-Leucine OK
  Miscellaneous additives  
900a Polydimethylsiloxane or Dimethylpolysiloxane (emulsifier, antifoaming agent, anti- caking agent) (possible carcinogen) CAUTION
901 Beeswax, white and yellow (glazing agent) OK
903 Carnauba wax (glazing agent) OK
904 Shellac (glazing agent) OK
905a Mineral oil, white (petroleum) OK
905b Petrolatum or petroleum jelly (glazing agent) OK
914 Oxidised polyethylene (humectant) OK
920 L-cysteine monohydrochloride OK
925 Chlorine (flour treatment agent)(oxidizes other nutrients) CAUTION
926 Chlorine dioxide (flour treatment agent) OK
928 Benzoyl peroxide (flour treatment agent) OK
  Propellants  
941 Nitrogen OK
942 Nitrous oxide OK
943a Butane OK
943b Isobutane OK
944 Propane OK
946 Octafluorocyclobutane OK
  Artificial sweeteners (may increase appetite and generally not recommended)  
950 Acesulphame potassium CAUTION
951 Aspartame, Nutrasweet, Equal (may cause headaches and hyperactivity) CAUTION
952 Cyclamate or calcium cyclamate or sodium cyclamate (potential carcinogen) CAUTION
953 Isomalt (excess consumption may have a laxative effect) OK
954 Saccharin CAUTION
955 Sucralose CAUTION
956 Alitame CAUTION
957 Thaumatin OK
960 Steviol glycosides OK
961 Neotame CAUTION
962 Aspartame-acesulphame salt CAUTION
965 Maltitol and maltitol syrup or hydrogenated glucose syrup (over consumption can have a laxative effect) CAUTION
966 Lactitol (excess consumption can have a laxative effect) CAUTION
967 Xylitol (excess consumption can have a laxative effect) CAUTION
968 Erythritol (excess consumption can have a laxative effect) CAUTION
969 Advantame CAUTION
  Foaming agents
999(i) Quillaia extract (type 1) CAUTION
999(ii) Quillaia extract (type 2) CAUTION
  Additional chemicals  
1001 Choline salts OK

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