Public Perspectives on Food Additives: Are They Good or Bad?

Public Perspectives on Food Additives: Are They Good or Bad?

Most people feel that food additives present health risks, but a lot of others do think that additives are not harmful when consumed in small amounts. The U.S. seems to be divided between the benefits and harms of the current food practices. 51% of Americans believe that food additives can sicken them while 48% are of the view that low exposure is not a serious risk. This has been confirmed by Pew Research Center Survey.

Cary Funk, Pew’s director, [1] says that as consumers are arraigned with novel food technologies and debates regarding how all that we eat has an effect on our health, the study shows a divided public regarding food issues.

A survey was conducted in which more than 2500 U.S. adults participated. It is believed by 70% that science affects food quality positively. About 50% believe that foods in which the ingredients are genetically modified (GM) are really bad for your health as compared to non-genetically modified foods.

The findings showed that there is more concern among women regarding health risks from food additives and GM foods [2]. And those whose scientific knowledge is not very great are more apprehensive about health risks as compared to those who have greater scientific knowledge.


22% of the Americans who are more concerned about GM foods suspect more about their health according to a study. They are really worried about the health risks due to processed foods and controversial practices adopted in farming like use of antibiotics and hormones in animals, growing produce with pesticides or foods having artificial ingredients. Funk added that these are personal opinions and not political.

There is consistency in public belief patterns regarding food science, but the division is not political in nature. In fact, people have their own food ideologies regarding the correlation between the foods that we eat and the health.

Food Additives

Other important findings:

  • One third of the respondents believe that meat from animals who are given antibiotics or hormones and usage of pesticides in produce present a high risk to health.
  • While 39% of the women are concerned about pesticides on foods, the issue worries only 23% of the men. Again 39% of the women and 25% of men feel meat from animals who are given antibiotics is dangerous. [3]
  • More than 25% of the Americans feel that artificial preservation poses long-term health risk. One out of five have similar opinion about artificial dyes.
  • 44% say that they do not consume artificial sweeteners and 38% limit the consumption of sugar. 30% are wary of artificial coloring and 33% limit artificial preservatives.
  • Among those who are concerned about genetically modified foods, 66% believe that meat of animals given hormones or antibiotics presents health risks. 12% of them are not concerned about the issue.
  • People who consume more organic foods have more likelihood of believing that food additives present health risks.
  • 49% of Americans feel that foods having GM ingredients are worse for health while 44% take a neutral stand on the issue. Five percent believe that they are good for health.
  • 50% of the people who have scientific understanding feel that GM foods are safe and will boost the supply of world food.
  • The views of Americans about organic foods depend on the age. 50% of the people in the age bracket of 18-49 feel organic produce is better for health. However, this is believed by only 39% of adults above the age of 65.