Additives & contaminants

You can dodge risky food additives (like aspartame and food dyes) if you know what to look for. But it’s trickier to sidestep contaminants (like endocrine disruptors and mercury) that don’t show up on a food label.

cereal with food dyes

What to watch

Our Chemical Cuisine guide to additives

CSPI ranks food additives—from “safe” to “avoid”—in this definitive rating of the chemicals used to preserve foods and affect their taste, texture, or appearance.

See the ratings

Artificial and “low-calorie” sweeteners

Some sugar substitutes are safe. Others can give you GI distress if you eat too much. And some of the most common artificial sweeteners pose a risk of cancer that’s small…but troubling. We tell you which are which.


Caffeine is safe for most (non-pregnant) adults if they don’t overdo it. But caffeine—and especially energy drinks—have downsides, so don’t get carried away.

monster energy drinks

Our chart of caffeine in foods, drinks, supplements, and more

The FDA doesn’t require companies to disclose caffeine, but many voluntarily do. We track how much caffeine is in their coffees, teas, kombuchas, sodas, energy drinks, coffee ice creams and yogurts, energy chews, over-the-counter pills, and more.

See how caffeine adds up

Is caffeine helping or harming your health?

Too much caffeine can do harm, but lower levels of caffeine (or coffee) have been linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, better exercise performance, and other health outcomes in non-pregnant adults.

See the research

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