By Eileen Lorio

As Halloween approaches we are already being bombarded with images of candy, treats and all things toxic and wicked. However, we should be on the look out for toxic ghosts and goblins in our food every day and not just on Halloween. There are currently over 3,000 chemically derived additives used in processed food in the US. 90% of our supermarkets contain processed foods, so it’s safe to say, we are surrounded and it’s affecting our health.

Here are my top 10 offenders to be on the look out for this Halloween. The health outcomes of combining these chemicals in our food has never been adequately studied. Attempts have been made, but the food industry is an all powerful entity and doesn’t like bad press. The Huffington Post published an amazing article on this which I recommend reading. Even without adequate studies (it seems like an impossible task), we do know that removing chemically enhanced food will help reduce our toxic load and ultimately lead to better health and wellness, especially for our children. Learn to read food labels (or avoid all packaged food where you can’t pronounce an ingredient!) and check for more information and helpful tools. Here’s to a clean, green 2015!


  1. Glyphosate/GMO food One of the most toxic herbicides in our world today. It is the subject of much controversy because it was designed to be used on GMO crops as they were engineered to be resistant to it. Many experts believe that glyphosate and GMO food are the root cause of the explosion of illnesses we are seeing since the 90s. The FDA believes GMO food is harmless to humans. The GMO debate is far from over and for a frightening analysis into the science on how it is wreaking havoc on our health, please see this article which explains why a prominent MIT scientist believes glyphosate contributes to autistic symptoms in our children.
  2. MSG known also as monosodium glutamate. It is a neurotoxin. Typically, monosodium glutamate is added to savory prepared and processed foods such as frozen foods, spice mixes, canned and dry soups, salad dressings and meat or fish-based products.
  3. Natural Flavor Not NATURAL. Made in laboratories (primarily Givaudan) to mimic natural flavors and scents. E.g., “caramel coloring” is a carcinogen (found in Coke products). See Food Babe’s insightful investigation here.
  4. BVO (Brominated Vegetable Oil) – found in sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade, Mountain Dew) & citrus flavored drinks. Affects thyroid and causes skin conditions. Bromine is corrosive and toxic. Banned in 100 countries.
  5. Potassium bromate (brominated flour) – Used to make rolls, wraps, flatbread, bread crumbs, and bagel chips. Made from Bromine and can cause kidney & gastro intestinal problems. Banned in many countries outside of the US.
  6. Polysorbate 80 primarily used in cosmetics and vaccines but it is also used in ice cream to keep it firm and stop it from melting too quickly. Associated with cancer and reproductive problems.
  7. High Fructose Corn Syrup highly processed corn by-product used in most processed sweets, cakes, desserts and even Ketchup! Associated with a long list of health problems from diabetes to heart disease. Dr. Mark Hyman explains it well here.
  8. Artificial Sweeteners  aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal), sucralose (Splenda), saccharin (Sweet’N Low), acesulfame potassium, neotame, Truvia. These are all highly processed chemical additives which are harmful to your health and have been linked to cancers and a host of other illnesses. More information by can be found here.
  9. **Sodium benzoate Found in salad dressings, fizzy drinks, fruit juice (citric acid) and pickles/condiments. It has been linked to hyperactivity.
  10. **Artificial colors: Blue 1, blue 2, yellow 5 & 6, Red 3 & 40, Green 3, Orange B Found in candies, cakes, frosting (even ‘white’ has blue 1) and processed children’s cereals. Made from coal tar, which is a carcinogen. Linked to hyperactivity and poor concentration.

** These two chemicals combined in food have been shown to cause hyperactivity (Source: Southhampton Study 2007)