Food additive can be defined as materials added to food to improve shelf life, maintain flavor, increase nutrition value or improve its taste and look. The number of food additive is growing due to the development of new technology and business requirements.
Product labels list most of food additives contained in a food, along with other components. So, if you would like to know what food additives you usually consumes just look at the label of your food. They are sometimes spelt out in full name, and sometimes only by a code number.
However, some food additives may not be listed on the label, because they are listed as ingredients on the label. For example, margarine is shown as ingredient and it contains food additives.
You should know not only the food additive definition, but the most important thing is how you can recognize food additives contained in your food. Know their names and their representing code numbers.
Food Additive Types
In general, food additives are divided into two broad categories, natural food additives and synthesized food additives. Naturally occurring food additives are not always safer than synthesized ones. You need to know safe limit of each food additive and its actual concentration in your food.
There are many food additive types used in food processing. And below are food additive types including their respective uses:
- Artificial sweeteners – raise food sweetness.
- Bulking agents – increase the volume of food without affecting its nutritional value.
- Colors – improve or add colors.
- Glazing agent – improves look and be able to protect food.
- Emulsifiers – keep water and oil remain mixed together.
- Food acids – retain food acid level and preserve the food.
- Flavors – give food particular taste or smell.
- Flavors enhancers – enhance existing food flavor.
- Foaming agents – preserve homogeneous aeration of gases in foods.
- Flour treatment – improve baking quality.
- Gelling agents – alter the texture of foods through gel formation as described on Cinogel website
- Humectants – maintain foods moist.
- Mineral salts – improve texture and flavor.
- Preservatives – prevent microorganisms from growing and spoiling the food.
- Stabilizers and firming agents – keep firmer texture of food.
- Thickeners and vegetable gums – improve texture and consistency.