―WINA Instant Noodles Column―

Reducing the Risks of Food

 In this column, I have previously communicated that the health risks of food itself are surprisingly large compared to those of food additives, which consumers particularly tend to misperceive as risky. Recently, according to Japan’s food poisoning statistics1)of Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, food poisoning accidents occur every month in various regions, but in most of these cases, incorrect risk management of the food itself has led to the proliferation of food poisoning bacteria. Since food is not sterile (no such thing as zero risk), food poisoning can occur due to incorrect risk management. In addition, for some people, food, such as eggs, milk, wheat, shrimp, crabs, peanuts, buckwheat, etc., can cause food allergies, resulting in health problems.
 On the other hand, reports of food poisoning accidents caused by food additives have been almost unheard of in the last few decades. We are often asked the question, “Wait, don’t many people get cancer because there are so many additives in food?” However, when we respond to these people by inquiring whether there is any scientific evidence of a causal relationship between additive intake and cancer development, they say they read about it in a tabloid journal or on the Internet. Cancer researchers have objectively looked at overall food risks, including food additives, residual pesticides, and genetically modified/genome-edited foods, and reported in detail the major cancer risks in our immediate surroundings. We have tried to visualize these findings in the form of a “cancer risk mountain” in the diagram shown on the right. (The height of the mountains does not necessarily correspond to the data.) 2)
 According to these data, although additives and residual pesticides are not zero risk, their respective mountains are considerably lower (i.e. very small cancer risks) compared to the lifestyle habits caused by food itself. If an office worker (Japanese “Salaryman”) in a pub were smoking a cigarette and drinking alcohol while saying, “Additives are bad for your health, aren’t they?”, I would point out to them “You’ve got the wrong idea on the risk.”
 As shown in this diagram, it has long been known that irregular lifestyle habits and unbalanced nutrition, such as drinking too much alcohol or not eating much vegetables, increase the risk of lifestyle diseases. However, when there are reports stating that “eating too much “ultra-processed food” can lead to lifestyle diseases,” the information is often misinterpreted as “foods with lots of additives are bad for the body.”3)Regardless of whether food is processed or not, unbalanced nutrition increases the risk of lifestyle diseases, so it is important to note that there are some cases where people intentionally spread false information with low objectivity.
 However, while there is no need to worry about health hazards caused by additives when eating instant noodles, it goes without saying that eating it in a way that leads to unbalanced nutrition is not good for the body. In the second article4)of this column (published April 27, 2023), I recommended that people check the salt equivalent labeled on processed foods to ensure that they meet the standards of each country and region (for example, according to the Dietary Reference Intakes for Japanese, the standard is less than 6.5 grams per day for women and 7.5 grams per day for men over 18 years old) because excessive salt intake can increase the risk of high blood pressure. Specifically, salt intake can be adjusted by checking food labels, and if necessary, not consuming all of the noodle broth. It is also important to maintain proper intake of fats and sugars, that is, maintain nutritional balance, rather than simplistically reducing intake.


1. Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Food Poisoning Statistics (accessed on November 20, 2023) Japanese)

2. SFSS Food Safety & Security Q&A (2017) “Regarding Radioactive Contamination of Food (2)” (accessed on November 20, 2023) ) (in Japanese)

3. Fact-checking by Science of Food Safety and Security (SFSS) in 2019 shows that the article “List of ultra-processed food that must not be eaten” is fake news (Level 4) (in Japanese)

4. Takeshi Yamasaki, “Nutritional Balance is the Key to Food Safety,” in WINA Instant Noodles Column (3) (2023)





《Author: Takeshi Yamasaki》

Chairman, NPO Society for Science of Food Safety and Security (SFSS) and DVM, Ph.D

Takeshi Yamasaki graduated from the Faculty of Agriculture, The University of Tokyo in 1983 and the university’s graduate school in 1985. He then joined Wakunaga Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. and worked for six years in the United States on research and development of dietary supplements. In 2011, he established SFSS.


Currently, he also serves as a director at FactCheck Initiative Japan (FIJ), Head of the secretariat of Japan Food Journalists Association (JFJ), as well as head of the secretariat of the Science Committee of the Association to Create a Society with Consumer Citizenship (ASCON).


★SFSS Website (in Japanese)