Chemistry Teacher Shows Why You Shouldn’t Always Mistrust Food-Based Chemicals

Chemistry Teacher Shows Why You Shouldn’t Always Mistrust Food-Based Chemicals

If someone offered you a snack containing the chemicals ‘E464’, ‘3-METHYLBUT-YL ETHANOATE’, ‘YELLOW-BROWN E160a’ and a generous helping of fructose, you’d probably think twice before sticking it in your mouth. However, the only thing you’d be turning down is an all-natural banana. In a bid to clear chemistry’s shady food reputation, one Australian chemist has published a series of ‘ingredients tables’ for unprocessed and organic foods.

“As a Chemistry teacher, I want to erode the fear that many people have of “chemicals”, and demonstrate that nature evolves compounds, mechanisms and structures far more complicated and unpredictable than anything we can produce in the lab,” James Kennedy explains on his blog.

“To make these graphics, I calculated the percentage composition of all the interesting ingredients and wrote an “ingredients” label for each fruit using E-numbers where they exist. Anthocynanins, which are said to give blueberries their “superfood” status, are also known as E163, for example.”

All the ingredients on Kennedy’s tables are 100 per cent natural (pesticides, fertilisers, insecticides or other contaminants are not listed). “For brevity’s sake, I omitted the thousands of minority ingredients including DNA,” Kennedy notes.

The results are an interesting reminder that you can’t automatically mistrust foods that have chemicals in them. That said, the scary-looking ingredients found in heavily processed junk food — such as monosodium glutamate (E621) and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) — should still be viewed with a modicum of caution.

You can check out Kennedy’s ingredient labels for blueberries, eggs and passion fruits in the image below (click to enlarge):

See also: Why Superfoods Are A Con | What ‘Brain Food’ Actually Does For Your Brain | What Types Of Bacteria Live On Your Fruits And Vegies?


  • Seriously, do you have any evidence to back up the concerns about monosodium glutamate? In an article that’s drawing attention to the myths and hysteria around “e” numbers it’s surprising to see hysteria then encouraged about one of them based on nothing but anecdote

    Even the Wikipedia article states that it is considered safe after umpteen studies, it’s really not that hard to check

    Plus it’s bloody tasty!

    • Research papers say the same. They have almost uniformly failed to reproduce any effects of MSG exposure to those who claim to be ‘MSG sensitive’, and there doesn’t appear to be any evidence that there is actually any relationship to Asthma.

    • I said it should be viewed with a modicum of caution. That’s hardly inciting hysteria.

      • Perhaps not hysteria, but in the context of an article pointing out the problem with people jumping to conclusions about scary e numbers I’d say it is as you’re supposedly presenting scientific fact against myth while reinforcing one of the biggest myths around – far more dangerous than your standard hysterical ‘healthy lifestyle’ website in my view

        Can you highlight any evidence that shows there’s grounds for even a modicum of caution? I doubt it, and it’s been subject to a lot of research over the years, so why even do it

  • What I would love is linkable page/article/whatever set up that splits the ingredients from the pictures with a title along the lines of “You Won’t Believe What’s In The Food You Probably Feed Your Kid Everyday” and the big switcharoo at the end.

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