Wraps and sandwiches are healthy right? As it turns out – no, not all of them! I spent years dishing out a chicken and salad wrap to my family thinking that our ‘takeaway night’ equivalent was so much healthier. Whilst the fillings were certainly healthier unfortunately the wrap itself was not due to one terrible ingredient. Preservative 282.
Some wraps (and some breads) still contain an ingredient called preservative 282. Unless you know what you’re looking for it seems pretty harmless. After all these wraps have a long shelf life right? Unfortunately no. Preservative 282, otherwise known as Calcium propionate, was thrust under the spotlight in the early 90s when it was widely used in most breads in Australia to stop them going mouldy. Like a lot of todays additives, it was never around when we were kids and neither were a lot of the health issues affecting kids today.
Preservative 282 can have disastrous effects on childrens behaviour and learning. Yet Australia has one of the highest permitted levels in the world of propionic acid and propionates used as preservatives (known as 280-283 on the ingredient list). Thankfully a lot of larger brands and companies have started removing it from their products. How did this happen? Preservative 282 was never tested before approval for it’s effects on childrens behaviour and learning. It’s rarely used in Europe, or New Zealand. It’s still common in the UK, US and Australia. In one generation we’ve gone from never eating foods with this preservative to eating it every day.
Common side effects for kids include temper tantrums, defiance, headaches, stomach aches, irritable bowel, diarrhoea, urinary urgency, bedwetting, eczema, nasal congestion (stuffy or runny nose), unexplained tiredness, lack of concentration, growing pains, loud voice (no volume control), irritability, restlessness, inattention, difficulty settling to sleep, night waking and night terrors. Whilst this just sounds like a list of ordinary toddler traits, I suggest you try swapping it out for a few months and then reintroduce it for a few days and see what happens. We removed it completely from our house, and then I trialed it for a few days with the kids months later and I didn’t tell my husband. He literally could not understand what had come over the kids. Hyperactivity, defiance, insomnia, nightmares. You name it, we had it. As soon as we took these foods away again they returned to the normal state of the occasional outburst we were accustomed to with healthy cause and effect.
Now not all kids react to 282 but at its worst with kids it can cause depression, speech delay, tachycardia (fast heart beat), learning disabilities, seizures, arrhythmia, irritable bowel and recurrent infections. For a real eye opener you can read the stories of many families whose kids have had severe reactions here Fedup.com.au
So why is 282 still used when it’s completely unnecessary? There are other preservatives out there but this is used to retard mould so that breads etc will have a longer shelf life. White vinegar is used now instead by Tip Top for mould retardation proving that there are other options and 282 is completely unnecessary. Companies such as Coles, Woolworths, Bakers Delight are also taking the lead. Thankfully other big brands are starting to phase it out but it’s still around in an alarming number of our most basic foods such as bread, pizza crusts, juice, cheese and of course wraps. Which makes it really hard to avoid. It’s still in Mission Wraps – one of the most popular wrap brands in Australia. Also sadly most tortilla’s contain preservative 282.
Sadly propionates used as preservatives can build up in your system slowly and remain unnoticed. Unless you are a child who is affected, where you are more likely to have adverse reactions when 282 builds up reaches an unsafe level. And it’s also really hard to avoid due to it’s widespread use in some of our most basic foods such as bread, pizza crusts, juice, cheese and of course wraps.
It’s not all bad news. Thankfully there are plenty of great brands who are now offering breads, wraps and other foods without Preservative 282. It’s just a matter of accepting the shorter bread life and always checking the label.
Stick to these ‘failsafe’ brands or products who have eliminated Preservative 282 in their products in Australia (overseas readers will need to check their labels for 282 or Calcium propionate).
- Bakers Delight
- Coles Baked instore Bread
- Woolworths Baked instore Bread
- Mountain Bread Light Wraps
- Pocket Pita lite
- Coles Naan bread
- Vitastic Family Pita lite
- Vitastic Sorj wraps
- Woolworths Bakery cakes and croissants
- Local Bakeries – most bake today and serve today meaning that they are less likely to use preservative 282. Worth checking but I’ve found that most are free of 282.
- More wraps in the past year are claiming to be ‘preservative free’ so double check the ingredients, but it’s worth it to ensure no 282
- Tip Top claim they have removed 282 from their breads (they still use it in their bread crumbs)
Stear clear of any of the cheaper long life breads as these still tend to use 282 as do a lot of wraps and most tortillas, crumpets and some pre made garlic breads.