NHS surgeon debunks myth about 'toxic' chemical found in herbs and spices

woman groceries shopping in a supermarket
-Credit: (Image: Yiu Yu Hoi/Getty)

An NHS surgeon has put minds at rest after explaining the real reason that chemicals are often added to herbs and spices on the shop shelves.

Dr Karan Rajan, a qualified NHS surgeon who also engages in clinical lectures at Imperial College London, took to his TikTok page with about 5.3 million followers after a video surfaced online from an American supermarket. A man, who captioned his video with a warning sign, had picked up a jar of paprika in the store and pointed out something that concerned him.

In the clip, he said: "This should only say paprika in the ingredients, but this has silicon dioxide". Dr Rajan then appeared on screen and asked: "Is your seasoning toxic?"

He clarified that it wasn't, and there was a simple reason for the chemical compound being in the jar. He said: "Your seasoning probably does contain silicon dioxide but it's important to note that I said silicon, and not silicone, with an E. But why are we adding this chemical to foods anyway?

"Silicon dioxide is an anti-caking agent. Basically, it absorbs water and stops things clumping together so your seasoning and spices are free-flowing an easy to pour," reports Wales Online.

Dr Rajan pointed out that the TikToker's own video actually answered his question, saying "it even says that on the label". He further added substance in question is "one of the most abundant compounds on earth" and exists "practically everywhere naturally".

Rounding off his clip, the doctor claimed that anyone wishing to avoid it would find themselves going very hungry as they "wouldn't be able to eat or drink anything". As a bit of reassurance, he added that the ingredient passes right through our bodies without entering into the bloodstream, joking that "basically, it doesn't like you".

He informed his audience: "Chemicals can be made to sound and look scary to fit someone's narrative until you realise the natural world is full of them. But please, don't eat silicone (with an E)."

Michigan State University confirmed that silicon dioxide is safe for use and consumption in typical amounts. It has been used safely in various products for centuries and is also present in many everyday food and drink items we purchase, including fruits, vegetables, and grains.

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