Health Articles - Food Additives


  Food Additives

A food additive is defined as a substance or a mixture of substances, other than basic food stuff, which is present in food as a result of any aspect of production, processing, storage or packaging. Food additives are added in order to improve texture, flavor, color and appearance. Food additives are classified as antioxidants, Preservatives, Food colors, food Flavors, Emulsifiers and stabilizers, anti caking agents, acids, bases and buffers, sweeteners, enzymes, leavening agents, anti foaming agents.

Antioxidants: A substance when added to food prevents oxidative deterioration . Some of the anti oxidants added in different foods are gallic acid, resin guiace, citric acid, tartaric acid, octyl gallate, dodecyl gallate, propyl gallate, ethyl gallate, butytlated hydroxyanisole and tertiary butyl hydro quinone.

Preservatives: These are substances when added to food inhibit, retard or arrest the activity of microorganisms such as fermentation, acidification and decomposition of foods. Some of the preservatives are common salt, dextrose, honey, spices, sugar, vinegar, edible vegetable oils, glucose syrup, nisin, sodium diacetate, nitrates, nitrites, lactic acid, sorbic acid, acid calcium phosphate.

Food colours: These food colours are used to enhance colors that occur naturally but at levels weaker than usually associated with a given food. There are natural and synthetic food colours. The natural sources are turmeric, saffron, caramel, beta carotene. The artificial colours are Red, yellow, blue and green.

Flavorings agents:  Flavorings agents add flavor to foods. There are natural and artificial flavours.

Emulsifying agents: Substances which are capable of facilitating a uniform dispersion of oils and fats in aqueous media.

Anticaking agents: Substances that pick up moisture without themselves becoming wet. These are added to products such as table salt and dry mixes to a maximum level of 2%.

Anti foaming agents: The anti foaming agents are added to retard decorative changes and foaming height during heating of edible oils and fats.

Buffering agents: These are agents used to counter acidic and alkaline changes during storage or processing of the food, thus improving the flavour and increasing the stability of foods.

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