By Melissa Kravitz Americans are no strangers to food additives : the preservatives, coloring and flavoring agents that keep foods looking fresh and taste better. A product of our desire for fast, cheap and satisfying eats that underscores our detachment from actually fresh, locally sourced foods, they are found in everything from nutrition-boosting salad dressings to McDonald’s French fries. But are they safe? In ancient times, additives may have been used not only to make food more flavorful but to keep it safe for consumption, too. Bruce Eaton, a retired professor of biochemistry at the University of Colorado, Boulder, points out that "the proliferation of the spice trade, which began as early as 3000 BC, led to increasing demand for additives to enhance the taste of food," adding that, "historical records … include the use of spices to preserve meat and inhibit the growth of bacteria." Fast forward to the 20th century. As the U.S. diet became more synthetic, processed and commercialized , food additives became more common . In 1958, Congress passed the Food Additives Amendment to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, requiring the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve all additives used in food […]

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