Food Additive

Food Additive

Substances which are of little or no nutritive value, but are used in the processing or storage
of foods or animal feed, especially in the developed countries; includes antioxidants; food
preservatives; food coloring agents; flavoring agents; anti-infective agents; vehicles;
excipients and other similarly used substances. Many of the same substances are
pharmaceutics aids when added to pharmaceuticals rather than to foods. Food additives are
substances added to food to preserve flavor or enhance its taste and appearance. Some
additives have been used for centuries; for example, preserving food by pickling with
vinegar, salting, as with bacon, preserving sweets or using sulfur dioxide as in some wines.
With the advent of processed foods in the second half of the 20th century, many more
additives have been introduced, of both natural and artificial origin. It is sometimes wrongly
thought that food additives are a recent development, but there has certainly been an
increase in public interest in the topic. Not all of this has been well-informed, and there are
signs that commercial interests have been influenced by consumer pressure, as well as food
producers manipulating the situation by marketing techniques. Various labeling
regulations have been put into effect to ensure that contents of processed foods are known
to consumers, and to ensure that food is fresh-important in unprocessed foods and
probably important even if preservatives are used. In addition, we also need to add some
preservatives in order to prevent the food from spoiling. Direct additives are intentionally
added to foods for a particular purpose. Indirect additives are added to the food during
its processing, packaging and storage. Food Preservatives are the additives that are used
to inhibit the growth of bacteria, molds and yeasts in the food. Some of the additives are
manufactured from the natural sources such as corn, beet and soybean, while some are
artificial, man-made additives. Most people tend to eat the ready-made food available in
the market, rather than preparing it at home. Such foods contain some kind of additives
and preservatives, so that their quality and flavor is maintained and they are not spoiled
by bacteria and yeasts. More than 3000 additives and preservatives are available in the
market, which are used as antioxidants and anti-microbial agents. Salt and sugar the most
commonly used additives. Some of the commonly used food additives and preservatives
are aluminum silicate, amino acid compounds, ammonium carbonates, sodium nitrate,
propyl gallate, butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT), butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA),
monosodium glutamate, white sugar, potassium bromate, potassium sorbate, sodium
benzoate, etc. Some artificial colors are also added to the foods to give them an appealing look. These coloring substances are erythrosine (red), cantaxanthin (orange), amaranth
(Azoic red), tartrazine (Azoic yellow) and annatto bixine (yellow orange). When the food
is to be stored for a prolonged period, use of additives and preservatives is essential in
order to maintain its quality and flavor. The excess water in the foods can cause the
growth of bacteria, fungi and yeasts. Use of additives and preservatives prevents spoiling
of the foods due to the growth of bacteria and fungi. Additives and preservatives
maintain the quality and consistency of the foods. They also maintain palatability and
wholesomeness of the food, improve or maintain its nutritional value, control appropriate
pH, provide leavening and color, and enhance its flavor. There are even foods products
that are made entirely from chemicals. Coffee creamers, sugar substitutes, and candies
consist almost completely of artificial ingredients. Such manipulation of our food can
have a profound effect on our body’s unique biochemical balance. When we need to store
any food for a longer time, it should be properly processed. During this processing, some
substances and chemicals, known as additives, are added to the food. Additives
consistently maintain the high quality of foods.

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© 2012 The Author(s). Licensee IntechOpen. This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

R. M. Pandey and S. K. Upadhyay (February 22nd 2012). Food Additive, Food Additive, Yehia El-Samragy, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/34455.
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