Knowing what goes into the goods and medicines we consume is much more complicated than reading the ingredients label. The development of rules surrounding ingredients comes from a long history of shady business practices. The difference between an additive and an adulterant is at the heart of this topic. The fight to keep consumable products safe continues to this day.
What Is an Adulterant?
In the simplest terms, an adulterant is what you don’t want in the goods you buy. Essentially, it’s an unregulated ingredient that the seller adds on their own. Usually, the goal is to put in something that will make a product more appealing or enjoyable. While this sounds harmless enough, it’s the unregulated detail that causes trouble. Without identifying ingredients properly, customers are blind to potential hazards, such as allergens and toxins.
What Is an Additive?
On the other side of the coin are additives. Almost anything added to an item is an additive. The primary feature that distinguishes them is that they aren’t essential components of products. For instance, most loaves of bread consist of water and flour. However, these basic ingredients aren’t especially nutritious on their own. To improve the nutritional value of bread, companies may supplement it with additives like minerals and vitamins. In other words, additives are always extra ingredients and generally serve a specific, knowable, and beneficial purpose.
Why It Matters
While we no longer need to worry about sawdust in our bread or other old tricks, adulterants are still dangerous today, namely in the illicit operations of the street drug trade. It’s well-documented that ruthless dealers use adulterants to make their supplies all the more dangerous. As such, knowing the difference between an additive and an adulterant is a serious matter with widespread impact. Educating our loved ones about these dangers is one of the best ways to reduce the threat.