Better to Avoid Activated Charcoal in Food

When it comes to food, the color black is generally associated with nothing good: overripe bananas, burnt toast, or spoiled potatoes. But just before Halloween, there are also numerous black-colored foods on the shelves, from smoothies to burger buns. Activated charcoal, a substance that is advertised as natural and said to be health-promoting, is often responsible for the black coloring. However, the Saxony-Anhalt consumer advice center advises against eating activated carbon products.

Carbon with a huge surface area

From a chemical point of view, activated carbon is carbon that is produced when plant materials such as coconut shells or lime wood are dried and charred at 500 to 900 degrees. The materials become porous and the surface increases enormously. One gram of activated carbon covers an area of ​​around 1,300 square meters. At the same time, carbon has the property of binding other substances to itself and not dissolving in liquid.

Known as a filter material

This makes activated carbon an important component of water or air filters, for example in cars, air conditioning, or sewage treatment plants. Physicians use activated charcoal for gastrointestinal problems or when toxins have been eaten or swallowed. Advertising, therefore, propagates them as a “cleansing agent” for the body. But: “Not only toxins are bound, but also other important ingredients in the food such as vitamins and minerals,” says Tabea Dorendorf, food expert at the consumer center. The active ingredients of medicines can also be influenced.

Biochar = coloring E153

The food industry uses activated charcoal, also known as vegetable charcoal, as a coloring agent with the abbreviation E153 in confectionery or cheese casings, for example. There is no quantity restriction. At first glance, black-colored foods appear to contain small amounts of activated carbon. But even a proportion of 0.4 percent in a 250-milliliter smoothie corresponds to about one gram of activated charcoal. “This means that a single smoothie contains about the drug dose of three to four activated charcoal tablets,” explains Dorendorf.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top