ARTIFICIAL PRESERVATIVES AND THEIR HARMFUL EFFECTS: LOOKING TOWARD NATURE FOR SAFER ALTERNATIVESAbstract
Preservatives prolong the shelf-life of food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals by preventing their spoilage. Antimicrobials such as nitrites, nitrates, benzoates and sulfur dioxide destroy or delay the growth of bacteria, yeast and molds. Anti-oxidants such as butylated hydroxy toluene (BHT), butylated hydroxy anisole (BHA), and propyl gallate slow or stop the breakdown of fats and oils. Anti-enzymatic preservatives such as citric and erythorbic acids block the enzymatic processes such as ripening occurring in foodstuffs even after harvest. Natural substances like salt, sugar, vinegar and spices have been used as preservatives since time immemorial. The majority of preservatives used today are artificial rather than natural. Several of them are toxic and several others have potentially life-threatening side effects. Researchers have reported that artificial preservatives such as nitrates, benzoates, sulfites, sorbates, parabens, formaldehyde, BHT, BHA and several others can cause serious health hazards such as hypersensitivity, allergy, asthma, hyperactivity, neurological damage and cancer. Research has proven that several natural preservatives obtained from plants, animals, microbes and minerals contain antioxidant, antimicrobial and antienzymatic properties. Extracts of basil, clove, neem and rosemary are promising alternatives to their artificial counterparts. This article aims at increasing awareness about the harmful effects of artificial preservatives and recommends the usage of natural preservatives for better therapeutic efficacy, safety and preservation of substances along with improved general health.
S.P. Anand* and N. Sati
Assistant Professor, G.I.S. Institute of Professional Studies, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India
10 March, 2013
14 April, 2013
21 June, 2013
01 July, 2013