Silicon Dioxide: The Shocking Truth About this Food Additive
Salt. Sugar. Crushed red pepper. Garlic powder. Silicon dioxide. Wait, what? What is silicon dioxide, and why is it in your seasonings? Is silicon dioxide harmful, and should you be sprinkling it onto your food?
Silicon dioxide is an additive that’s frequently used in seasonings, medicines, supplements and foods like cereals. If you’re concerned about the ingredients listed on your jar of chicken rub, read on to find out more about silicon dioxide.
What is Silicon Dioxide?
In a word, silicon dioxide is quartz. It’s the second most abundant naturally occurring substance on earth. You’ll find it in water, in plants, and even naturally occurring in your own body. It is, literally, the sand between your toes.
So what’s it doing in your food? Why do you see silicon dioxide listed on your kids’ box of crackers? Isn’t it dangerous to eat quartz?
It’s not dangerous at all. In fact, there are hundreds of plants which contain silicon dioxide that you wouldn’t hesitate to prepare for your family. Beets, alfalfa, sunflower seeds, celery, cucumber and apples all contain silicon dioxide. So do grapes, oranges and asparagus. Doesn’t sound so scary after all, does it?
It may sound strange to hear that silicon dioxide is quartz, yet it’s found in plants. But in the same way, water is found in plants, as is iron and a host of other substances. So is it safe to eat silicon dioxide? Why do people use it in food? Let’s take a look.
What is Silicon Dioxide Used For?
The most common use of silicon dioxide in your food is as an anti-clumping agent. It’s added to your food so that your crackers stay crisp, your garlic powder won’t stick and your cereal stays fresh. Of course, as with any other naturally occurring substance, it has other non-food uses as well.
What scares many people is that silicon dioxide is used in the creation of, most certainly, non-food materials. Glass and concrete are two of these materials. Again, though, it’s one of a number of ingredients used. Water is used to make concrete, too.
The US Food and Drug Administration has recognized silicon dioxide as safe for human consumption. Don’t trust the FDA? The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has, as well. In fact, the World Health Organization has recorded that the biggest danger caused by silicon dioxide is a deficiency of the substance.
Should I Eat Silicon Dioxide?
As with any safe substance, think before you eat. Everything should be consumed in moderation, and in the same was as you wouldn’t swallow a bottle of potassium pills, nor should you eat silicon dioxide in large quantities.
But the additive is safe to eat, and you can rest assured that you won’t fall ill by eating silicon dioxide. So continue to keep an eye on your nutritional labels. People do put some strange stuff in food. But feel free to reach for that box of cookies, knowing that it’s the silicon dioxide that’s keeping them crunchy.