Risky Synthetic Additives Increasing in U.S. Food: Study

According to the results of a new study, a whopping 60% of foods U.S. consumers purchase contain synthetic or industrialized coloring/dyes, artificial flavoring agents, emulsifiers, preservatives or artificial sweeteners.  That’s up a full 10% from 2001.  This increase in synthetic/industrialized chemicals was across all food and additive categories.

This is a concerning trend given that many commonly used food additives in the U.S. have not been safety tested by independent scientists, and many have been linked in numerous scientific studies to a variety of serious health outcomes.*

The trend in U.S. consumers buying ultra-processed foods and other food types containing synthetic/industrialized additives has been increasing steadily over recent years**. According to research conducted in 2019, more than half of the overall packaged food and beverage products bought by U.S. households contained three or more additives.  And it is not just adults and teens ingesting more synthetic food chemicals (U.S. consumers buy more than 400,000 different packaged foods and beverages each year), but babies are getting in on the action too:  the study results revealed a 22% higher percentage of baby food purchases were ultra-processed and contained additives.

*For more information on the harmful effects of food additives, get CFL’s book:

The Food Hacker’s Handbook:  A Guide to Breaking the Processed Foods and Additives Addiction

Book FoodHacker-DrPam



**Researchers used data from the Nielsen consumer panel between 2001 and 2019 to compare product purchases over time.  Between 2001 and 2019, the proportion of food products purchased by US households that contained additives increased from 49.6% to 59.5% (P < 0.001).

Journal reference: Dunford, E., Miles, D. & Popkin, B. Food Additives in Ultra-Processed Packaged Foods: An Examination of US Household Grocery Store Purchases. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, January, 2023. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2022.11.007