How Safe are chemicals in food and bathroom products?

Life would be much easier if we had the assurance that everything we bought to eat, drink or put on our skin, was safe. Unfortunately this is not the case. There are now thousands of harmful chemicals in our environment, many of them sold to us in this way. Let’s look at some examples:

Toxic ingredients in Food:

The following carcinogens are contained in a leading brand of chocolate sandwich biscuits, made in Australia for Australians, BECAUSE the ingredients are banned in the USA and the E.E.C.

E102 – Acid yellow or coal tar. 80% of hyperactive children are allergic to it. Believed to cause allergic reactions in 15% of the general population. Known effects are asthma, hyperactivity, hay fever, blurred vision, breathing problems, skin irritation, wakefullness in young children.

E110 – sunset yellow – toxic waste from petro-chemical industry. A known carcinogen.

E129 – Allura Red colouring – a coal tar dye. It may cause allergic skin conditions. Increases the heart’s rate and is implicated in behavioural problems. Should be avoided by persons suffering from asthma. Listed problems associated with Allura Red: tumours and lymphoma. When given to mice, they developed cancer of the lymph glands.

All of the above ingredients are also contained in a long-standing popular cherry- flavoured confectionery, with the addition of red food colouring 123:

E123 – Amaramth (Red food colouring) – All women of childbearing age, especially those in the first 3 months of pregnancy should avoid this colour.

May provoke eczema. Harmful to asthmatics. Causes hyperactivity. It has cause birth defects and fetal deaths in some test animals.

Implanted in mice bladders it produced cancer. As of October 1999 the ANZFA has allowed this chemical to be used either in large amounts and/or in more foods. 1

Not only does the government allow harmful chemicals in processed foods, but in the area of personal care products there are very few restrictions. The problem with many chemicals is their low molecular weight. This means that the molecules are small enough to penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream, storing themselves in our organs.


Toxic ingredients in personal care products:

The following is reported in “Skin Deep”:

“Most consumers would be surprised to learn that the government does not require health studies or pre-market testing for cosmetics and other personal care products before they are sold….a cosmetic manufacturer may use almost any raw material as a cosmetic ingredient and market the product without an approval from the FDA. The toxicity of product ingredients is scrutinized almost exclusively by a self-policing industrial safety committee. Because testing is voluntary and controlled by the manufacturers, many ingredients in cosmetic products are not tested at all.”

Australia is a long way behind the U.S and Europe when it comes to regulating toxicity. Safety assessment by the author of this report found:

  • Just 28 of the 7,500 products we analyzed have been fully assessed for safety.
  • One of every 120 products on the market contain ingredients that are known or probable human carcinogens. These products include shampoos, lotions, make-up foundations and lip balms.
  • 55% of all products assessed contain “penetration enhancers”. (This makes carcinogens penetrate into the bloodstream)
  • nearly 705 of all products contain ingredients that can be contaminated with impurities linked to cancer
  • in its 67-year history of monitoring cosmetic safety, the FDA has banned or restricted just nine personal care product ingredients. 2


So what do we look for when buying products?

Don’t just look for absence of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Propylene Glycol. Think about the ingredients that may not be disclosed. Manufacturers don’t have to disclose all the ingredients.

For example, take a list of natural sounding ingredients, like essential oils and plant ingredients. Some companies do not list the foaming agent. If it foams, and no chemical foaming agent has been listed, then be suspicious. If coconut based ingredients are listed as the foaming agent, then it could be SLS made from a coconut derivative.3

It’s time to take responsibility!

  • Just because the majority believe the government is looking after us doesn’t make it true.
  • Just because products are sold over the counter doesn’t mean they won’t harm you.
  • Take time to consider safety for your family. It’s worth it.



1. P.M.. Taubert, Your Health and Food Additives

2. Skin Deep: A report by the Environmental Working Group –

3. Peter Dingle and Toni Brown, Dangerous Beauty, p. 39