My husband admits he is addicted to caffeine and can’t function until he has had his first cup of coffee in the morning.
After a couple of hits he is fired up and ready to face the day, but, if he overdoes it and has another cup (or two) mid morning, he gets jittery, can’t concentrate and tends to bounce from one project to the next without making any progress.
Caffeine is a recognised stimulant with well-known effects on the central nervous system, but what of the many other substances we consume on a daily basis? What effects are they having on us?
One hotly debated topic nowadays is the number of additives in food and the adverse effects they have on our health. Food additives are not new; salt, vinegar and alcohol have been used for centuries.
However, with the growing popularity of processed foods over the past 30 years, the number and concentration of additives in food has grown markedly and with this growth more and more of us are suffering from food intolerances.
Calcium Propionate – Preservative 282
The next time you’re at the supermarket read the ingredients of a popular bakery item, such as bread or crumpets, and you will most likely find preservative 282 on the list.
Calcium propionate, along with the other propionates numbered 280 – 283, is described as a preservative but is more accurately called a mould inhibitor.
This substance, which occurs naturally in some dairy products, is widely used in Australia, the USA and the UK but is rarely used in Europe or New Zealand. It’s primary use is in bread and is commonly referred to as the ‘bread preservative’.
What are the effects of eating too much calcium propionate?
Calcium propionate, though harmless in small doses, has been shown to have a cumulative effect. A 2002 study carried out in Darwin and published in the Journal of Paediatric Child Health found “irritability, restlessness, inattention and sleep
disturbance in some children may be caused by a preservative in healthy foods consumed daily”.
To add to the cumulative effects, calcium propionate is now being added to other foods such as dried fruit, dairy products and fruit juice.
So, a seemingly healthy diet can lead to a concentration of this harmful substance.
What can you do to avoid calcium propionate?
The introduction of a mould inhibitor to our breads was aimed at reducing production time and costs, rather than increasing the quality of the finished product.
Most traditional bakers, who wash equipment and utensils with vinegar and allow bread to cool completely before being put in a plastic bag, will not need to add a mould inhibitor to their products.
So, if you want to reduce the amount of propionates in your system, the easiest way to do this is to find a local baker who doesn’t use preservatives and keep your bread in the freezer or read the ingredients list of your baked and dairy products and avoid any with 282 added.