Food additives continue to be a source of benefits to the consuming public but there are also perceived risks. Concern for the latter in the last decade has produced a society afflicted with cancer phobia. The intentional additives including sugars, salt, corn syrup, and dextrose make up 90% of the direct additives. These, along with a limited number of familiar items make up a large proportion of the remainder of the additives. Such common ingredients as nitrates and nitrites, solanine, cyanogenetic compounds, arsenic, etc., are unavoidably consumed in the diet and with little if any evidence for public health consequences. Major concern on the part of the public in recent years has been focused on man-made chemicals which are intentionally added to foods to enhance flavors and acceptability, nutrient value, shelf life and increased availability. These include food colors, nonnutritive and low-nutrient sweeteners, (saccharin, cyclamate, aspartame); antioxidants; and nitrites. Contaminants, sometimes incorrectly included in lists of food additives, present the greatest potential threat to public health. Such contaminants as mycotoxins, nitrosamines, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pesticides, among others, provide a continuing challenge to our regulatory agencies and to public health authorities. Evidence to date indicate that these responsible for food safety are doing an admirable job, and as a society, our food supply has never been better, or safer, and, as a population, we have never been healthier. Aside from contaminants, major concerns relate to an excess of good food and to obesity. These comments should not be taken to infer that we should relax our concern and surveillance; instead more concern and surveillance should be exerted toward those uncontrolled substances such as natural plant products and alleged natural nutrients, roots, herbs, etc., which are given much credit for positive health effects, without meeting the high standards of our legitimate food industry.

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