Additives are substances that are added to foods. They may be addedpurpose, such as when vitaminsare added to some foods to replace those lost when the food is processed.On the other hand, some drugs givento animals and chemicals used on crops are examples of additives thatget into food by accident. Metals from cooking utensils can also leachinto food.
Additives are used in foods for 5 main reasons:
To control food texture. Emulsifiers,stabilizers, and thickeners can give food an even texture.They help keep ingredients and flavors blended in the product. Someexamples of these are lecithin, mono and diglycerides,guar gum and carrageenan. An example of a food they are found in ispeanut butter. Emulsifiers help keep the peanuts and oil from separating.
To improve nutritional value.When nutrients are added to foods to replace those that were lostduring processing, the foods are said to be enriched. Vitaminsand minerals,as well as fiber,are often added to enrich foods in this way. For example, many of theB vitamins are lost as whole-wheat flour is being refined into white flour, so theyare added back in.
When nutrients are added that were never in the food, the foodsare said to be fortified. For example, vitamins Aand Dare added to milkto fortify it. This process of adding nutrients to foods has helped reducemalnutrition.
To maintain freshness and safety. Someadditives are called preservatives. These are used to prevent spoiling infoods that may be exposed to air, mold, and bacteria.For example, cancer\ \
A small percentage of the population is allergic to sulfites.The FDA requires that labels clearly show when packaged andprocessed foods contain more than 10 parts/million of sulfites.
To help foods rise and to control the acid-base balanceof food. Leavening agents cause baked goods, such as bread, torise. Other additives, such as yeast and sodium bicarbonate, helpcontrol the acidity and alkalinity of foods, which affect the flavor, taste,and color.
To improve flavor and color. Natural andartificial colors and flavors enhance the appearance and taste ofcertain foods. Common examples include
MSG is a well-known flavor enhancer. In the past, peoplehave questioned the safety of MSG. The FDA has consideredMSG as GRAS. Some people are allergic to the flavor enhancer.These people should always read ingredientlists and be careful of ordering food in restaurants, especially Asianones.
There are 33 colors approved for use in foods. Only seven ofthem are man-made. The push is towards using more natural coloringagents. The only color that has been known to causeallergic reactions,in a very small amount of people, is Yellow No. 5.
The FDA regulated the useof food additives. Before the FDA approves the use of a particular foodadditive, studies must be conducted that prove the substances aresafe in large doses when fed to animals. Even then, these substancescan only be used at levels 100 times lower than those that have beenshown to cause harmful effects in animals.
Many additives are on the FDA GRAS list. Thesesubstances have been widely used for a long time withoutknown problems. A few examples of the 700 items on the GRASlist include salt, sugar, guar gum, and vinegar.
Food additives are quite safe for most people, but some peoplemay be allergic or sensitive to certain additives. Because of this, foodmanufacturers are required to list additives on food labels. People whoknow they are allergic or sensitive to certain things should always readthe food labels and avoid any foods that may not be healthy for them.
Article type: xmedgeneral