Food Additives Overview

Food additives are substances added to food with the purpose of preserving them or improving their color, flavor, or texture. These additives include food colorings like tartrazine or cochineal, flavor enhancers like MSG, and various preservatives.

Throughout history, certain food additives have been used for preserving foods, such as salt in meats like bacon or dried fish, sugar in marmalade, or sulfur dioxide in wine.

The main objective of using additives is to ensure that processed food remains safe and maintains its quality during its entire journey from factories or industrial kitchens, through transportation to warehouses and shops, and finally reaching consumers.

Food additives serve five primary functions:

~Maintaining product consistency
~Improving or preserving nutritional value
~Ensuring palatability and wholesomeness
~Providing leavening or controlling acidity/alkalinity
~Enhancing flavor or achieving desired color

These additives are classified into various functional classes, which encompass acidity regulators, antioxidants, colors, emulsifiers, preservatives, stabilizers, sweeteners, and thickeners.

An interesting fact is that many of the food additives used in the food industry already exist naturally in foods that people consume daily. For example, MSG occurs naturally in parmesan cheese, sardines, and tomatoes in significantly higher quantities than the MSG used as a food additive.

Food additives can generally be grouped into four categories: nutritional additives, processing agents, preservatives, and sensory agents.

It is important to note that allergic reactions are most commonly triggered by additives used to enhance a food's marketable qualities, such as its color. Some of these hypersensitive reactions include digestive disorders, nervous disorders, respiratory problems, and skin issues.
Food Additives Overview

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