Consumers’ Knowledge and Perception of Food Additives: A Study of Galle Municipal Area in Sri Lanka


  • M.P.S.U. Nayanajith Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine and Allied Sciences, Rajarata University of Sri Lanka
  • W.V.R.T.D.G. Bandara Department of Medical Laboratory Science, Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka


Food additives are substances added to food in order to maintain or improve the taste, texture, safety, freshness or appearance. Food additives have been found to cause various health problems such as allergies, hormone imbalances, cancers, fertility problems, obesity and hyperactivity. Limited data is available regarding the consumer’s knowledge and perception of food additives in Sri Lanka. This descriptive cross -sectional study was conducted to assess the consumers’ knowledge and perception on food additives to use the findings to improve those aspects. Study sample consisted of 305 participants aged 30-50 years from Galle municipal area. Data were collected by using a pre-tested self-administered questionnaire. Data were analyzed by using SPSS software version 22.0.  Results indicated that the knowledge score on food additives in 73.7% of the participants was poor, 20.7% were an average knowledge level, and 5.6% had having good knowledge. Only 36.1% of participants knew about the “E” numbers in foods, and 89.8% of participants believed food additives cause an adverse effects on their health. Majority (79.3%) had the habit of reading food labels. About 71.2% of participants do not frequently consume packed foods. Only 34.4% of participants knew about mono-sodium glutamate. The level of knowledge on food additives is significantly different among the respondents with different education levels (p=0. 001) and occupations (p=0.012). Females have the habit of reading food labels more than males (p=0.032). Tamil and Muslim consumers use more food additives than Sinhalese people, and graduates had a limited usage than the others. Usage of food additives showed significant differences among the respondent’s educational levels (p=0.019) and ethnicity (p=0.009). The necessity of educating public on the adverse health effects of food additives to minimize their consumption is emphasized. Controlling food additives usage through necessary government legislations would be more effective.

KEYWORDS: E numbers, Food additives, MSG, Knowledge, Perception