- New Litagion agent profiles for six food additives: acesulfame potassium, bentonite nanoclay, carrageenan, cellulose nanofibrils, monosodium glutamate, and potassium bromate
- A new theme summarizing CoMeta content related to 39 food additives
- New blog content: "An update on take-home COVID-19 litigation"
- Updated Litagion agent and company profiles impacted by newly published peer-reviewed science and newly gathered company information
- Food additives. Thousands of substances and chemicals are added to the processed foods we eat every day. We’re talking about preservatives, anti-caking agents, colors, emulsifiers, stabilizers, thickeners, flavor enhancers, artificial sweeteners, coloring agents, and more. Food companies must demonstrate that these additives do not pose a risk to human health prior to marketing. But a large number of additives were first approved decades ago and have never been reevaluated. And food safety advocates contend additives introduced to the market today do not undergo sufficient testing to determine whether they significantly elevate the risk of chronic disease.
- Acesulfame potassium. Acesulfame potassium [CAS No. 55589-62-3], also known as acesulfame K or Ace K, is an artificial sweetener used to sweeten a wide variety of low- and reduced-calorie foods and beverages. Acesulfame K is approximately 200 times sweeter than sucrose and both intensifies and extends sweetness and other flavors. In order to mask its bitter aftertaste, manufacturers often blend acesulfame K with aspartame and sucralose, the other major artificial sweeteners on the market today. Unlike aspartame and sucralose, acelsufame K is stable when heated, which makes it particularly useful for sweetening baked goods and products that require a long shelf life, such as alcoholic beverages, protein shakes, condiments, toothpaste, mouthwash, and chewable and drinkable medications.
- Bentonite nanoclay. Bentonite nanoclay is a type of engineered nanoparticle known as nanoclay. Nanoclays have a flaky soft structure, low specific gravity, and high aspect ratio with nanoscale thickness that make them particularly useful in polymer packaging. Nanoclays have been shown to improve the mechanical, thermal, and barrier properties of polymer systems, all of which can help extend the shelf life of packaged food products. Bentonite nanoclay is also used as a processing aid in the manufacture of vegetable oils and beverages.
- Carrageenan. Carrageenan [CAS No. 9000-07-1] is an emulsifying, thickening, and stabilizing agent used in food and personal care products. An indigestible polysaccharide extracted from a red seaweed known as Irish Moss, carrageenan is found in a wide array of food products including ice cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, chocolate milk, infant formula, soups, sauces, puddings, and plant-based milk products such as soy, almond, coconut, and hemp milk.
- Cellulose nanofibrils. Cellulose nanofibrils, also referred to as nanocellulose, is a material composed of nanosized (5–20 nanometer) cellulose fibrils. Owing to their nanosize, cellulose nanofibrils have unique characteristics that make them behave like a pseudo-plastic with the properties of a gel or fluid that is viscous under normal conditions, but flows over time when shaken, agitated, or otherwise stressed. High viscosity at low concentrations makes nanocellulose useful as a non-caloric thickener, flavor carrier, and stabilizer in processed foods such as low-calorie whipped toppings, cake frostings, salad dressings, gravies, and sauces. Cellulose nanofibrils can be produced from cotton, wood, grasses, and other abundant biomass making them an inexpensive alternative to petroleum-based polymers for use in food packaging materials.
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG). Monosodium glutamate (MSG) [CAS No. 142-47-2] is a sodium salt of glutamic acid that is widely used as a flavor enhancer. MSG imparts an umami taste that intensifies the meaty, savory flavor of food. MSG occurs naturally in many foods, such as tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and soy sauce. It is commonly used in fast food restaurants and added to processed foods such as soups, ramen, processed meats, frozen meals, condiments, and savory snack foods. The sodium content of MSG (12%) is about one-third that of table salt (39%), and so can be used to reduce the sodium content of processed foods. When first discovered in the early 1900s, MSG was extracted from seaweed; today it is produced by the fermentation of starch, sugar beets, sugar cane, and molasses.
- Potassium Bromate. Potassium bromate [CAS No. 7758-01-2] is an oxidizing agent used mainly in bread-making. Potassium bromate strengthens dough and enhances its elasticity. It also acts as a bleaching agent. Once baked, the resulting finished product is springier, softer, and whiter. Typically, potassium bromate is fully consumed during the baking process, but, if too much additive is used or the bread is not baked long enough, residual additive can remain. Possibly carcinogenic according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, potassium bromate is banned in the European Union, United Kingdom, and Canada. Its use is allowed in the United States, but baked goods must display a cancer warning in California if the level of potassium bromate in the finished product exceeds the established "no significant risk level."
Updated Litagion agent profiles based upon newly published science
All Litagion agent profiles have been updated to reflect the most recently published peer-reviewed science. Notable scientific studies added to CoMeta since the last release include:
- Bisphenol A (BPA). A meta-analysis using National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 2003-2016 reports a significant association between BPA exposure and cardiovascular disease.
- Oxybenzone. A study of 625 women in California and Utah reports a significant correlation between urinary levels of oxybenzone and endometriosis.
In addition, we highlight the following changes to the components of Litagion agent risk resulting from newly published peer-reviewed science:
|Litagion agent||Risk category change||Overall risk change|
|Bis(2-ethylhexyl) tetrabromophthalate (TBPH)||Projected science risk changes from Low (green) to Medium-low (light green)||No change|
|Projected science risk changes from Medium-low (light green) to Medium-high (orange)||No change|