E Flavouring in Baby Food

My child is 13 months old and is mostly eating what we are eating, but the ingredients in the food. I realised about 2 weeks ago all the flavourings and persertives in our food nowadays (look at the custard / porridge / tin food ect.). On the ingredient label on the back of packaging, they show all the flavourings with an “E” …. it is really scary to see what is in the food.

I want to give my child the best. Where can I get a list of the “good and bad” in food for my child. Must I go organic all the way?

It is wonderful that your baby is eating your family food as it makes your life so much easier, and also means that your baby will readily accept new tastes and textures, having already been exposed to a wide range of foods. This is no mean feat, so pat yourself on the back. It is equally good that you are so interested in the quality of what your baby eats. Of course there is a way of thinking that only organic will do, but the reality of modern life is that most of us do not have the time nor the finances to feed our children this way. What you may like to consider as a start is to cut down on the amount of things like ready made sauces that you cook with. Consider going back to basics a little, and making things like roast chicken, which are easy, nutritious and wholesome. The trend back to this kind of cooking means it is not hard to find cookery books that support this kind of thing. Jamie Oliver’s books are a good example, and it is interesting to see how much influence he has had on the diets of British children!

The E additives is a really big subject, but you can educate yourself into the simple basics. The categories are:

100-199 colours
200-299 preservatives
300-399 antioxidants and acidity regulators
400-499 thickeners, stabilisers, emulsifiers
500-599 acidity regulators, anticaking agents
600-699 flavour enhancers
900-999 miscellaneous
1000-1999 additional chemicals

A full list of each individual E number can be found on websites such as

Not all the additives are harmful, and what many people don’t know is that some can even be beneficial! A selection which are good for you are E101 (vitamin B2), E160 (Carotene, vitamin A), E300-304 (VitaminC), E306-309 which includes Vitamin E, E322 (Lecithin) and E375 (niacin) and E440 (pectin).

Another very good idea is to buy yourself a small reference book to keep in your handbag to consult when you are shopping. This is probably the most practical solution to this issue. A good simple guide is E for Additives by Maurice Hanssen, which can be order from It is empowering and easy to use a book like this in order to make informed purchases.

See also:
Food additives – To mash or not to mash

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*Important : The information provided is for information purposes only. No medical diagnosis or prescription can be inferred or is implied. Please consult your doctor for medical advice.

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