Accommodation for vacations without the use of toxic chemicals

It’s easy to trick your friends into thinking you’re the most host charcuterie board – assorted snacks mounted on a large platter, plate or cutting board. Dozens of videos online show even the most ignorant and clumsy how to make a delicious spread of antipasto-type foods.

The only problem? Toxic chemicals can be lurking in some of these treats, as the mainstays of deli boards like cured meat and dried fruit, and generic additions like hummus, can all contain ingredients that are harmful to health.

Here’s how to put together a healthier charcuterie board this season.


Foods like salami and sausage – the centerpiece of most charcuterie boards – are often made with nitrates and nitrites, which add color and extend shelf life. But these chemicals increase the risk of cancer.

And although organic options and products with “no nitrates or nitrites added” claims do not allow the addition of these ingredients, they may still contain nitrate naturally derived from celery powder or other sources, which will be added. noted on the label.

It’s best to make dried meat naturally an occasional food, not a regular part of your diet. Consider going vegetarian and skipping meat altogether or choosing a plant-based option.

If you include meat on your board, check the labels for sodium and potassium nitrates and nitrites and avoid them. Or choose organic options or other “most trusted” choices from our guide to decoding meat and dairy labels, which come with other benefits, such as reduced use of antibiotics.

Two or three kinds of cheese

In addition to cold meats, cheese is the other highlight of a typical charcuterie board. Most cheeses do not do well in our Food Notes database, which ranks products based on nutritional value, processing and ingredients of concern. The vast majority of cheeses tend to be high in calories, saturated fat, and sodium.

But it’s less likely to be full of harmful food additives. Check out our meat and dairy label decoder for the “most reliable” cheeses or choose organic, which does not contain antibiotics or hormones. There are also a growing number of brands of plant-based cheeses.

Crackers or rolls

Crackers and bread may contain potassium bromate, a chemical leavening agent on EWGs dirty dozen food additives list. It is classified by California as a known carcinogen and by an international cancer research agency as a possible human carcinogen. To avoid potassium bromate, check the ingredient labels and our Food Notes database.

Crackers and bread may contain other ingredients that are harmful to health. They can be made with soybean oil, an artificial trans fat, which contains food additive tert-butylhydroquinone, better known as TBHQ. Look for organic crackers made with no added sugar for the most nutritious ones that have the fewest health concerns.

Jam or jelly

A spoonful of jam and jelly on your deli board may not have a lot of unhealthy food additives, but in many cases it’s almost pure sugar – corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup. . One type of grape jelly, for example, contains 65% sugar by weight and contains three teaspoons of added and natural sugar per serving.

Bottom line: Load up your snack board with less sugary foods.


You can place a small bowl of hummus on your plate, drizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with paprika. Be careful, however, to choose your hummus.

GTE analysis of this popular food have found high levels of the weedkiller glyphosate in many store brands. But the levels varied considerably. Although most biological samples contained glyphosate, the levels were much lower than non-organic options.

Check out our review to see which store brands had lower levels of glyphosate and check dietary scores for other issues, such as added sugar, trans fat, and “flavor.”


Pieces of apple or pear or a handful of grapes will pleasantly decorate your charcuterie board. It’s best to buy these organic due to the high level of pesticides found on most non-organic fruits. It remains even after washing the fruit.

Our Buyer’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce ™ shows which types of fruit are best to buy organic and which can be purchased non-organic, if needed. Bonus points for choosing locally grown produce, which reduces carbon-emitting transport.

Dried fruit

Dried fruits may contain some of EWG’s food additives of most concern, such as food coloring Yellow 5 and Red 40. It may also contain preservatives like sulfites and sulfur dioxide.

Sulfur dioxide has been shown to cause asthma as well as reproductive and developmental toxicity, especially when inhaled. And although the levels of exposure to dried fruits may not be a risk for most individuals, the use of gas during storage can pose a health risk to workers.

Some dried fruits are processed with other artificial ingredients, such as “aroma, A mixture of chemicals added for taste and smell. And if it is not organic, dried fruits contain pesticide residues.

Even dried fruits with minimal processing can be high in sugar, so it’s best to avoid making them a centerpiece of your spread.

Get Your Free Guide: EWG’s Guide to Food Additives


A handful of nuts – something tasty and salty that complements all other snacks – makes a great addition to your deli board. You can’t go wrong with organic shelled and unprocessed nuts – a great source of protein at a fairly low cost. If you want them roasted, salted or flavored, try make yours to avoid added sugar and artificial flavor.

Fresh vegetables

You may want to stack your board with chunks of chopped fresh vegetables. Cucumber, cherry tomatoes, carrots, and radishes are great choices, both visually and nutritionally.

But vegetables contain residues of the potentially harmful chemical pesticides with which they are grown. Celery, peppers and tomatoes are part of the Dirty Dozen ™ of products with the most pesticide residue, so choose organic products whenever possible. Be sure to check out the Buyer’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce ™ to find the best items to buy.

Efforts to make food safer

Even a few changes to your planned refreshments can help you and your guests avoid toxic chemicals and too much sugar.

But the real solution to the unhealthy ingredients in our food is better food safety regulations in the United States. Two bills currently before Congress would be helpful.

Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) Introduced the Toxic Free Food Act ordering the Food and Drug Administration to close a loophole that allows food and chemical companies to determine whether food additives are safe. It would require independent experts, not company scientists, to determine whether the substance is safe.

The other bill is the Food Chemicals Re-evaluation Act, introduced by Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), who would create a new office within the FDA dedicated to the re-evaluation of food chemicals in the market, such as TBHQ. This would require the agency to reassess the safety of at least 10 chemicals used in food or food packaging every three years.

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