Controversial Chewing Gum Ingredients

Are all the ingredients in chewing gum safe for health? Generally, it can be said that chewing gums are considered safe. However, some types of chewing gum contain small amounts of controversial additives. Fortunately, the quantity of these health-harmful additives in chewing gums is “within the norm.” This means they should not cause harm to health. In my opinion, it is better to avoid these chewing gums and choose those that do not contain these controversial additives. However, the choice is up to each individual.

Controversial additives in chewing gum | Artificial sweeteners | Aspartame (E951) | Acesulfame K (E950) | Sorbitol (E420) | Carmine – cochineal (E120)| Brilliant Blue FCF (E133) | | Titanium dioxide (E151) | | BHA (E320) and BHT (E321) | Conclusion | Turn the chewing gums

When chewing, I recommend choosing sugar free chewing gums. However, it is essential to keep in mind that sugar free chewing gums often contain artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, acesulfame K, or sucralose, which are associated with poor gut health, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.

They may also contain sugar alcohols, such as sorbitol, which is known to cause cramps, gas, bloating, and diarrhea, especially if consumed in amounts exceeding 5-20 grams per day. This typically amounts to 4-16 pieces of sugar-free chewing gum daily, depending on the brand.

Controversial Additives in Chewing Gum

Artificial Sweeteners

1) Aspartame (Harmfulness score 5)

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener commonly found in sugar-free foods. It is highly controversial, with claims that it causes a range of conditions, from headaches to obesity and cancer. Animal studies suggest that aspartame is a chemical carcinogen in rodents and that prenatal exposure to aspartame increases the risk of cancer in rodent offspring. However, the possible connection between aspartame and obesity needs further study. According to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), consuming amounts of aspartame within the recommended daily intake is not considered harmful. However, people with the rare inherited condition known as phenylketonuria should limit their phenylalanine intake, which is part of aspartame.

Do you know that from July 2023, according to the WHO (World Health Organization), aspartame is among substances that are potentially carcinogenic. Before that, aspartame was never classified as a potentially carcinogenic substance. This changed in July 2023.

Study 1 (FDA)
Study 2 (FDA)
1 – Aspartame (E951) – Harmfulness score 5

2) Acesulfame K (Harmfulness score 4)

This is an artificial sweetener and flavor enhancer. It is 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is not absorbed by the human body and is excreted in urine. The FDA announced that four animal studies showed no convincing evidence that the substance could be considered toxic. Other studies indicate an increase in tumor incidence in rats fed with acesulfame.

2 – Acesulfame K (E950) – Harmfulness score 4

3) Sorbitol (Harmfulness score 3)

It is an artificial sweetener widely used in foods, especially for diabetics. Sorbitol is often used in chewing gum production. It replaces regular sugar to prevent tooth decay. It is likely a safe substance. However, it is not suitable for small children or in larger doses, as it can cause diarrhea, digestive problems, bloating, or flatulence. It must not be added to children’s nutrition in the Czech Republic.

4 – Sorbitol (E420) – Harmfulness score 3

Other Controversial Additives

Carmine (Harmfulness score 5)

Carmine, also known as cochineal. Often listed by some manufacturers as the dye carmine (carmine). It is a natural red dye – it turns blue when reacting with a base. It is used as a coloring in confectionery, dairy products, jams, instant soups, drinks, chewing gum, etc.

Carmine is a derivative of anthraquinone. Anthraquinone dyes are considered potential carcinogens. In some sensitive individuals, it can cause allergic reactions, and cochineal is often blamed for causing child hyperactivity. It can cause anaphylaxis (a suddenly arising and life-threatening condition), asthma, hives, and hay fever. It is labeled as “inappropriate for children” and is an allergen.

This dye is included, among others, in our Czech Pedro (4A) – that’s unfortunate 🙁

4B – Carmine (E120) – Harmfulness score 5

Brilliant Blue FCF (Harmfulness score 5)

Brilliant Blue FCF is a bright blue synthetic dye. It is used to color lemonades, sweets, ice cream, confectionery, toothpaste, and chewing gum. It is synthetically produced from coal tar. For purposes other than food, the dye is entirely harmless. Studies conducted on rats found the occurrence of malignant tumors at the injection site or after ingestion. Negative effects on patients were also recorded – a drop in blood pressure, the onset of metabolic acidosis, or death. It can cause asthma, allergic reactions, or hives.

4C – Brilliant Blue FCB (E133) – Harmfulness score 5

Titanium Dioxide (Harmfulness score 4)

Titanium Dioxide is a common food additive used to whiten products and give them a smooth texture. Some older animal studies have linked very high doses of titanium dioxide to damage to the nervous system and organs in rats. Inflammation, oxidative stress, and cancer were also observed in studies treating rats with titanium dioxide. Research has not yet determined the quantity that could be harmful to humans. Currently, the amount and type of titanium dioxide to which people are exposed in food are generally considered safe.

3 – Titanium Dioxide (E171) – Harmfulness score 4

BHA and BHT (Harmfulness score 3) – Hormone disruptors and carcinogens

BHT (Butylhydroxytoluene) is an antioxidant added to many processed foods as a preservative. It prevents food from spoiling by inhibiting the oxidation of fats. Its use is controversial because some animal studies suggest that high doses may cause cancer. Results are mixed, as other studies have not found this effect. The FDA and EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) consider BHT generally safe at low doses around 0.25 mg per kg. Most people consume much less than this recommended level.

Study 1 (EFSA)
Study 2 (EFSA)
5 – Butylhydroxytoluene (E321) – Harmfulness score 3

BHA (Butylhydroxyanisole) is an antioxidant added to food as a preservative to extend its shelf life for human consumption. Studies link it to being a human carcinogen, meaning it may expose individuals to benign and malignant tumors. Other studies have identified this chemical as an endocrine disruptor and a contributor to insufficient development of the reproductive system (changes in thyroid hormone, testosterone changes, weight of sexual organs, sexual maturity). BHA is listed as a carcinogen in Japan and the U.S. state of California, and suspicion of carcinogenicity also exists for BHT. The International Chemical Secretariat has included BHA due to its hormonal effects on the SIN List, a list of chemicals that should be rapidly replaced in consumer goods.

6 – Butylhydroxyanisole (E320) – Harmfulness score 3

Other controversial additives found in chewing gums

7 – Allura Red AC (E129) – Harmfulness score 4

Conclusion (controversial chewing gum additives)

Chewing gums are not associated with any serious health effects, but ingredients added to some types of chewing gums are controversial.

In my opinion, you should avoid the above-mentioned ingredients. At least those who care about health. Perhaps it’s not a big deal if you have 10 gums a year. If you or your children enjoy chewing gums, check the composition of the gums you buy, and if they contain these dangerous ingredients, avoid them.

Take some time to read about the availability of healthy gums that do not contain aspartame, acesulfame K, sorbitol, BHT, BHA, and titanium dioxide. Find gums without these potentially harmful substances. I know, healthy gums are not easily available, but you can buy a larger quantity, and it’s sorted for half a year 😉 When you choose wisely, not only will the gums be healthy, but they will also take care of your teeth (oral hygiene), reduce the incidence of cavities, the amount of harmful acids on your teeth, calm you down, improve your mood, and maybe even help you lose weight or chewing gum can help manage your appetite 🙂

You can learn more in the article – benefits of chewing. Focus more on sugar-free gums – these are considered a higher quality option by studies.

Turn the gums!

I recommend looking at the composition of gums. Spend a moment on it; you’ll be surprised. Most gums sold today contain controversial chewing gum additives mentioned above. However, you can choose healthy gums that do not contain these substances. Yes, you will pay a little more, maybe the gums won’t last as long, but they won’t jeopardize your health. They also have their advantages – they have a real natural taste, naturally take care of your teeth, do not burden nature, etc.

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