ABOUT 540 food additives and over 4,500 flavouring agents are allowed in food.

The vast majority of these additives are used to disguise and alter the flavour, appearance and texture of food and drink so cheap ingredients such as water, starches, sugars and fats can be made to resemble ‘real’ food.

Some additives have ‘E’ numbers and must be listed as ingredients, either by their ‘E’ number or by their full name (e.g. E621 or Monosodium Glutamate).

Other additives, such as processing aids, are not listed at all. Flavourings are not listed as separate ingredients, but are simply listed as ‘flavourings’ in the ingredients list, so it’s difficult to tell what you are really eating.

There is strong evidence that some additives can affect our health and even children’s behaviour. For example, the commonly used preservative Sulphur Dioxide (E220) can cause asthma in susceptible individuals, but no warning is given on food and drink labels.

Cocktails of additives make numerous juice drinks enticing to children, while added vitamins give ‘mum appeal’. An example of this is the popular ‘fruit’ drink Vimto. With just 5% juice Vimto contains Citric Acid (E330), Anthocyanins (E163), Potassium Sorbate (E202), Sodium Benzoate (E211), Dimethyldicarbonate (E242), Trisodium Citrate (E331), Sucralose, Acesulfame K (E950) and unidentified flavouring agents. Like many juice drinks you may also question whether it is good value for money.

The Juice Drink Scam

Pure fruit juice contains 100% fruit juice, as you would expect. But some juice drinks contain as little as 3% juice. Many so-called juice drinks actually contain more water and sugar than actual juice and often include flavourings, artificial sweeteners and colourings.

Calypso’s Tom & Jerry Apple & Blackcurrant juice drink contains only 8% juice. You would have to spend about £12.50 and buy 50 cartons before you would have a single litre of pure juice. Or you could buy a whole litre of low price, pure orange juice for under 50p.

References: The Food Commission