Food Additive

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Food Additive:

Substances that are added to food to preserve flavor or enhance its taste, appearance, or other qualities is known as Food additives. It also include substances that may be added to food indirectly called "indirect additives". These are used in the manufacturing process, through packaging, or during storage or transport.

Types of Food Additive:

Food additives can be divided into several groups. However, some additives exert more than one effect. For example, salt can be used as a preservative as well as a flavor.
  • Acidulents: Acidulants has sour or acid taste. Vinegar, citric acid, tartaric acid, malic acid, fumaric acid, and lactic acid are some of the common acidulents.
  • Acidity regulators: These are used for controlling the pH of foods for stability or to affect activity of enzymes.
  • Anticaking agents: Anticaking agents are used to keep powders such as milk powder from caking or sticking.
  • Antifoaming and foaming agents: Antifoaming agents help reduce or prevent foaming in foods. Foaming agents do the reverse.
  • Antioxidants: Vitamin C which is an antioxidants are preservatives by inhibiting the degradation of food by oxygen.
  • Bulking agents: Starch are Bulking agent which are additives that increase the bulk of a food without affecting its taste.
  • Food coloring: Food colorings are added to replace colors lost during preparation or to make food look more attractive.
  • Fortifying agents:Vitamins, minerals, and dietary supplements to increase the nutritional value.
  • Color retention agents: Color retention agents are used to preserve the existing color of a food.
  • Emulsifiers: Emulsifiers helps water and oils to remain mixed together in an emulsion. These are added in mayonnaise, ice cream, and homogenized milk.
  • Flavors: Flavors give food a particular taste or smell. It may be derived from natural ingredients or created artificially.
  • Flavor enhancers: Flavor enhancers enhance the existing flavor of a food. Monosodium glutamate is a popular example. Some flavor enhancers have their own flavors that are independent of the food.
  • Flour treatment agents: Flour treatment agents additives that are added to flour to improve its color or its use in baking.
  • Glazing agents: Glazing agents provide a shiny appearance or protective coating to foods.
  • Humectants: Humectants help prevent foods from drying out.
  • Tracer gas:Tracer gas are allowed for package integrity testing. This help prevent foods from being exposed to atmosphere, thus guaranteeing shelf life.
  • Preservatives:Preservatives help prevent or inhibit spoilage of food due to fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms.
  • Stabilizers: Stabilizers, also known as thickeners and gelling agents give foods a firmer texture. They are not true emulsifiers. However, they help to stabilize emulsions. Agar or pectin used in jam is one of the example.
  • Sweeteners: Sweeteners are added for flavoring. Sweeteners, except sugar are added to keep the food energy (calories) low. Because they have beneficial effects regarding diabetes mellitus, tooth decay, or diarrhea are added as additives.
  • Thickeners: Thickening agents increase the viscosity of the food without substantially modifying its other properties.
  • Packaging: Some indirect additives used in manufacturing or packaging are Bisphenols, phthalates, and perfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFCs). These three substances, along with nitrates and food coloring might harm children during development.


  • Processed foods have often have been treated with additive to prevent spoilage and maintain their nutritional value. It is safe to consume additives in small amounts. But the health risks is raised if you rely heavily on processed foods. A diet rich in processed foods is linked to chronic diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer.
  • Sodium nitrites help stabilize, color and flavor meat, and prevent harmful bacterial growth. But sodium nitrite produces nitrosamines when meat is heated at high temperatures or combined with stomach acid. Nitrosamines are linked to an increased risk of pancreatic and colorectal cancer.
  • Sulfites are a preservative many people are sensitive to that can severely aggravate asthma. Avoid those products with sulfur dioxide, potassium bisulfite, sodium bisulfite or sodium sulfite on the label.
  • Trans fats in food increase the risk of heart disease. These partially hydrogenated oils are used to improve the shelf life and consistency of cookies, crackers and other packaged foods.
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG) enhances flavor and texture in foods like soups and in other processed foods. People who are sensitive to MSG can experience nausea, breathing problems and other reactions. MSG adds extra sodium that may elevate blood pressure.
  • FD&C yellow no. 5 and no. 6 are artificial coloring agents that are used in candy and cereal. These can cause severe allergic reactions in those with asthma.

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