I am feeling healthy!  Just as well, as becoming healthier was one of the reasons why I started GreenLifeOrganics!  I still have a long way to go, but it’s such an interesting journey, and I am meeting some very interesting and inspiring people on the way!  And last weekend at Jude Blereau’s wholefood seminar on healthy lunches was no exception. 

One of the speakers at the seminar was Julie Eady, author of Additive Alert.  Julie’s book featured in GLO’s first blog ‘Health Alert!’ and if you ever get the chance to hear Julie speak I would highly recommend it.  If you haven’t got a copy of Additive Alert already (particularly if you live in Australia), then you should! 

Probably one of the most shocking facts from Julie’s extensive research is that Australia is about 10 to 15 years behind Europe and the USA when it comes to healthy eating.  Many of the additives in our food here in Australia have long been banned in other countries as they are toxic or carcinogenic.  Personally, I would rather avoid products containing harmful additives.  Thankfully Julie has produced a handy bookmark containing the top 60 real nasties, so you don’t need to take her book with you every time you go shopping!

One of the worst additives in food are the petroleum derived Coal Tar Dyes, many of which are toxic or known carcinogens.  They are linked to asthma and hyperactivity in children and many are banned in other countries.  They are commonly found in cordials, ice lollies, food colouring and sweets.  Particular additives to avoid include 102, 110, 129,133, 150, 160b, 100 and 171.

Preservatives are also best avoided wherever possible.  There are a number of different preservatives, including:

  • Propionates (280-283): anti-mould agents commonly found in bread products and linked to antisocial behaviour in children.   282 is banned in the UK.
  • Benzoates (210-213): anti-bacterial agents commonly found in soft drink products and linked to hyperactivity in children. They are also considered dangerous for asthmatics.  Even more worrying is the chemical reaction that can take place between Vitamin C and either sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate to form benzene.  Benzene is a known carcinogen and in tests undertaken but the FSANZ (Food Standards Australia New Zealand), over half of the soft drinks tested had benzene levels above the Australian guidelines for drinking water.  Yet these preservatives are still commonly used.
  • Sulphites (220-228): commonly used to preserve meats and dried fruits and are known to trigger asthma attacks in sufferers.  Grapes are often sprayed with sulphite solution to keep them fresh.

MSG (621) and flavour enhancers are another type of additive to avoid. MSG is an excitotoxin (i.e. can damage or kill brain cells) and is linked to a wide array of negative side effects including sleeplessness, heartburn, heart palpitations, asthma, rashes, nausea and migraines.  MSG is also linked to obesity and while it is prohibited from infant formula and baby foods in Australia, it is typically found in sausages, bread, pizza, pies, crisps, rice crackers, gravey powder, snacks etc.

Artificial Sweeteners such as aspartamine (951) are commonly found in a wide array of foods including juices, yogurt, rice crackers, sausages, sweets, ice cream, vitamins, medicines, soft drinks etc.  Aspartamine is linked to headaches, migraines, dizziness, seizures, numbness, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, insomnia, vision problems, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, tinnitus, joint pain, memory loss. The list goes on, and yet this substance has not been banned… anywhere… despite a vast amount of controversy, and a long list of harmful side effects. Aspartamine is also linked to brain cancer and is an excitotoxinIt should be avoided by pregnant women and not given to children at all. 

Nitrates (250) and nitrites (251) are typically found in processed and cured meats and are added to preserve the meats and add colour and flavour.   They are widely considered to be toxic and carcionogenic and are linked to bowel cancer. They are banned in baby food, but commonly appear in pollony, ham, frankfurters, sausages etc.

Other products to avoid include margarine, refined sugar, white flour, tuna and flavoured milk.

Needless to say, I went home after the seminar and threw out a number of items from my pantry and fridge!

But don’t despair!  Yes, you will have to read labels carefully, and yes, you may have to start baking, but thankfully there are many healthy alternatives.

 Healthy alternatives

Once you have made a start to remove the above additives from your pantry and fridges, you may want to replace with the following:

  • Fresh organic food whenever possible;
  • Healthy food colourings such as those produced by Hullabaloo Food;
  • Dates and sultanas, which typically do not contain sulphites;
  • Natural, healthy sweeteners such as rapadura sugar, mapel syrup, and honey;
  • Cold roast meats and preservative free sausages, ham and bacon, such as those produced by Spencers Brook and Merri Bee Farm
  • Wholemeal flour, wholegrain pasta and wholegrain rice rather than white processed varieties;
  • Preservative free bread such as Bodhis (or bake you own);
  • Biscuits with less additives or bake your own!
  • Organic dairy products and butter rather than margarine;
  • Preservative free juices such as Homebrand breakfast juice and fresh juices such as Charlies or Original Juice;
  • Nut or seed mixes;
  • Ice lollies made from crushed fruit.

Jude Blereau’s presentation on wholefoods and healthy lunches provided some more great lunch box ideas and yummy recipes, highlighting the importance of balancing the protein, carbohydrates and sweet components.  She also stressed the importance of seasonal eating.

Jude has a very informative website and has written a number of wholefood cookery books including Wholefood for Kids, great for healthy eating ideas for those of us with young kids.  Her wholefood seminars are held quarterly in Perth and the next seminar will be held on 25th June 2010, which will focus on winter meals and setting up your garden for spring.   For further information, visit www.wholefoodcooking.com.au.  

Hope to see you there….

Happy and healthy eating!


Founder, GreenLifeOrganics


This information is not intended as medical advice. Everyone should make their own health care decisions, with advice from qualified professionals.


Julie Eady, 2004.  Additive Alert, Your Guide to Safer Shopping (reprinted 2010).