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Hydrogen Peroxide - Did you Know?

Wednesday, October 4, 2023 3:13 PM

From the book “Staying Healthy with Nutrition” by Elson M Haas, MD

Hydrogen peroxide is a commonly used antiseptic that works by releasing oxygen, thus its bubbling action. It is also used in food processing, although it is not directly added to food, and therefore it is usually not listed on the labels. The peroxides are mild preservative and antibacterial agents used in processing milk and making cheese. They are even more commonly employed as bleaching and oxidizing agents in butter, cheese, and powdered eggs. The Japanese have used hydrogen peroxide to disinfect fish and noodles before they are eaten. Hydrogen peroxide is safe when used in food processing but not when added to food, Studies for carcinogenicity did not reveal any positive findings. The peroxides can be an irritant to the skin and eyes and have a mild allergenic potential. Some people use oral food grade hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) for treatment of a variety of ailments.

Related to hydrogen peroxide in terms of their chemical activity are two other peroxides – benzoyl peroxide and calcium peroxide. Calcium peroxide has been primarily used agriculturally as a way of bringing oxygen into the soil. It has also been used in aquaculture, both to oxygenate and to disinfect water. Benzoyl peroxide is the better-known peroxide when it comes to food. Because this peroxide has been used to bleach flours, cheeses, and whey powders. (If you are buying a container of protein powder that is based on whey, it is worth finding a product that is free of benzoyl peroxide.) This GRAS-listed additive has been shown to cause breaks in DNA strands as well as cross-linking. Both types of damage to DNA are problematic, require repair, and can lead to increased risk of cancer.