Not all E numbers are bad!

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Ingredients lists that contain E numbers are not always doom and gloom…

I grew up in the South of England and I distinctively remember the hushed tones and concerned glances of adults every time the topic of E numbers came up. But what does it really mean?


The letter E simply stands for Europe.


E numbers are set into categories

  • E100-199; colours
  • E200-299; preservatives
  • E300-399; antioxidants and acidity regulators
  • E400-499; thickeners, stabilisers and emulsifiers
  • E500-599; acidity regulators and anti-caking agents
  • E600-699; flavour enhancers
  • E700-E799; antibiotics
  • E900-E999; glazing agents and sweeteners
  • E1000-E1599; additional chemicals

As you can see, the concept of an E number is merely a coding devise and not a mystical and terrifying packaging scheme.


And here are my top E numbers that are absolutely safe and ‘natural’

  1. E100; Curcumin, which is derived from turmeric
  2. E101; Riboflavin, also known as Vitamin B2
  3. E140; Chlorophyll
  4. E160c; Capsanthin from paprika
  5. E160d; Lycopene
  6. E161b; Lutein
  7. E161j; Astaxanthin
  8. E 162; Betanin from beetroot
  9. E164; Saffron
  10. E300; Vitamin C
  11. E322; Lecithin
  12. E406; Agar
  13. E411; Oat gum
  14. E412; guar gum
  15. E440; pectin
  16. E901; beeswax
  17. E960; steviol glycosides
  18. E967; Xylitol
  19. E968; Erythritol
  20. E1101iii; Bromelain, which comes from pineapple

This is not to say that there aren’t horrific compounds on the list. BUT with tools like google we don’t need to blindly shun a product as soon as we see an E. Rather research it and stay informed!

E numbers

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