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Consumer advocates warn of activated carbon in food
In the past there has been repeated criticism that activated carbon is used in cosmetics, although the benefits of this substance have not been clearly demonstrated. In the meantime, medical coal is often used in food. However, consumer advocates warn of such black foods.
An ingredient advertised as "natural"
There has been real hype about activated carbon for years. Right now for Halloween there are a lot of black colored foods on the shelves: The spectrum ranges from smoothies to pizza to burgers. Consumers are promised a detoxifying effect or are tempted to try something completely new. But the trend towards the ingredient advertised as “natural” is not as harmless as possible, warns the Consumer Center Saxony-Anhalt in a message.
Activated carbon is not substance-specific
Activated carbon (also called medical coal) is carbon that is left over after drying of raw materials such as linden wood or coconut shells.
The heating creates a large surface and the coal acquires its adsorbing effect, it becomes "active".
One gram of activated carbon covers a surface of 1,300 square meters and more. This binds all kinds of substances.
Activated carbon is used in medicine for poisoning and gastrointestinal problems, which is why it is advertised in other contexts as "detoxifying". The problem with this is that activated carbon is not substance-specific.
"Not only are toxins bound, but also other important ingredients in the food, such as vitamins and minerals," says Tabea Dorendorf, food department of the Saxony-Anhalt consumer center.
Impairment of medication
In addition, drugs can be impaired. For people who do not suffer from diarrhea, the intake of activated carbon often leads to constipation, in the worst case to intestinal obstruction.
The amounts of activated carbon used in food appear small at first glance, but an activated carbon share of 0.4 percent, as found in a commercially available 250 ml smoothie, corresponds to a total of about one gram of activated carbon.
"This means that a single smoothie contains about the drug dose of three to four activated carbon tablets," says Dorendorf. In contrast to medicinal products, however, no warnings about side effects can be found on smoothies. (ad)