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Are 'natural' foods free of E numbers?

  1. There is hardly anything in the law about whether or not the term 'natural' may be used on food packaging. Manufacturers can therefore often use it at their own discretion. You cannot say that products that say "natural" are better for your health. The term 'natural' also says nothing about whether or not there are E numbers in the food.

E numbers of natural origin

  1. There are E-numbers that are made artificially in a factory and that do not occur in nature as a substance. Examples of this are the azo dyes. There are also E numbers that occur as a substance in nature, but are made artificially in a factory. It is often cheaper to make a substance in the factory than to get it from nature. An example of this is glutamate. There are also E numbers that can be made with substances from nature. Take E160d for example. This is lycopene, a red dye that can be extracted from tomatoes. For more information about specific E numbers, see our E number finder.

Citric acid

  1. To make a food appear more "natural", manufacturers sometimes use the name of a substance instead of the E number. For example "Citric Acid" instead of "E330".

Aromas

  1. The term "natural" is defined for flavors. Aromas (substances that give a strong odor or taste to the product) may only be used "natural" if only natural components have been used. For example, a product's list of ingredients may include "natural strawberry flavor." This is only allowed if the aroma is 95 percent obtained from strawberries

Nutritional advice

  1. E numbers such as sweeteners, colorants and flavor enhancers are often found in products that are not listed in the Wheel of Five. For products outside the Wheel of Five, the advice applies: not too much and not too often. Some people prefer to avoid E numbers. This is not necessary from a safety point of view, because products with E numbers can be safely eaten, but there is nothing against it.

  2. E numbers such as sweeteners, colorants and flavor enhancers are often found in products that are not in the Wheel of Five. For products outside the Wheel of Five, the advice applies: not too much and not too often. Some people prefer to avoid E numbers. From a safety point of view, this is not necessary, because products with E numbers can be safely eaten, but there is nothing against it.



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