Welcome to my blog, and thank you for stopping by! In this blog, I will look at the various types of food additives and why manufacturers use them.
If you’ve ever eaten convenience or processed foods from the grocery store, you’ve most likely consumed a food additive.
Unfortunately, food additives have earned a bad reputation over the years. Many people believe that some food additives may be harmful to consumers’ health.
However, for decades, food manufacturers have included them in their products for a variety of reasons.
They are primarily used as a food preservation method to extend the shelf life of food and ensure its safety for consumption.
Some food additives also serve as emulsifiers, thickeners, and aid in the even distribution of ingredients throughout the food. These are just a few of the many roles they play in the food industry.
WHAT ARE FOOD ADDITIVES?
Food additives are substances added to food by manufacturers to improve its flavor, color, texture, and to preserve it.
They are added either during or after the food production process. There are several types of food additives; here is a list of them:
(a) Artificial flavors and colors: These are added to food to improve its taste and appearance.
Preservatives are used to keep food from spoiling and to extend its shelf life.
Sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, and calcium propionate are a few examples. You will commonly find these additives in food products such as sauces, and some juices.
WHAT ABOUT COLOR ADDITIVES?
Color additives, according to the (Food and Drug Administration) FDA, are an important component of the processed foods we all enjoy eating. Food companies use them to add color to bland foods or to promote color uniformity.
These additives can be natural or synthetic. However, without them, margarine or butter would not have their yellow color, Coca-Cola would not be dark brown, and certain snacks would lack the fun, vibrant colors that make them more appealing and attractive.
Starbucks And The Bug Additives
Starbucks made headlines several years ago when it was revealed that their Strawberry Frappuccino and other products they sold contained dye derived from crushed bugs.
Later, CBS News reported that Starbucks’ President promised their customers that the popular coffee company would switch to lycopene, a natural food coloring extract of the tomato fruit.
(b) Emulsifiers: are substances that aid in the mixing of ingredients that would not normally mix, such as oil and water. Lecithin and mono- and diglycerides are two examples.
(c) Sweeteners: These are substances that are used to make food sweeter.
Sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and saccharin are some additives you will often see added to many juices, gummy vitamins, and chewing gums.
(d) Antioxidants: are used to keep food fresh by slowing the oxidation process. Vitamin E and BHA are two examples you will find in many foods such as popcorn and fruit juices.
(e) Thickening agents: Many food companies use these to increase the viscosity of liquids and make them thicker. Xanthan gum and carrageenan are two popular additives.
If you use coffee creamers as frequently as I do, these additives are more than likely to be listed as ingredients.
WHAT ARE CARRAGEENAN ADDITIVES?
Carrageenans have been the subject of much debate in the last five to ten years. Some animal studies indicate that it may be carcinogenic or cancer-causing, as well as inflammatory.
While this has never been proven in humans, many people still believe that frequent consumption is harmful to their health.
Moreover, Carrageenan is a natural additive derived from red seaweed that is commonly used as a thickener and emulsifier in a variety of food products.
If you want to learn more about the potential effects of Carrageenan on one’s health, visit Healthline’s blog: “Should You Remove Carrageenan From Your Diet?”
So, the next time you pour creamer into your coffee or salad dressing on your salad, keep in mind that the thick viscous pour is primarily due to the additives of either carrageenan or xanthan gum.
(f) pH regulators: are chemicals that are used to adjust the acidity or basicity of food.
Citric acid and sodium hydroxide are two examples of pH regulators that are commonly found in many juices and sauces in grocery stores.
ARE FOOD ADDITIVES REGULATED?
It is important to note that all food additives must be approved by regulatory bodies such as the FDA to ensure their safety for human consumption.
Many people, however, have lost trust in these and other food regulatory bodies, which may be one of the reasons why many consumers are skeptical about the safety of food additives.
However, I hope my blog has provided you with a new perspective on why food additives are important in the food industry.
You may learn more about how food additives are approved by the FDA in their article entitled: “Overview of Food Ingredients, Additives and Colors”
MY FIRST HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE WITH FOOD ADDITIVES
One of the class projects in my “Experimenting With Food” class in college was to create three different recipes using an underutilized food item.
I chose dasheen (a root vegetable) because at the time it was not very popular. I created Dasheen Porridge, Dasheen Muffins, and Dasheen Chips recipes.
Jamaica Scientific Research Counsel (SRC)
The Scientific Research Council of Jamaica (SRC) is a government agency in Jamaica that promotes product development through science and technology.
They were extremely helpful in assisting me with my dasheen recipe project.
The SRC exposed me to two sulfur compounds that are used as additives. I don’t recall the exact names.
However, I recall one being used to improve the color of the dasheen chips and the other contributing to the crispy texture when fried.
These two sulfur compounds are commonly used in many fruit and vegetable chips on the market, such as banana and potato chips, to enhance their taste and appeal.
I was able to produce, package, and label my crispy, delicious Dasheen Chips with their assistance.
ARE FOOD ADDITIVES BAD FOR YOU?
The majority of food additives are safe to consume. The FDA prohibits or regulates those that pose a health risk.
Processed foods that rely on food additives get a bad rap for their potential negative impact on population health.
In my early days as a Nutrition student and Nutritionist, I praised the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables while condemning the consumption of their canned counterparts.
Half The World Would Starve Without Processed Foods
One of my college professors taught me the value of convenience or processed foods.
She explained that half of the world would starve if foods were not preserved through canning and the use of additives.
Even to this day, that class has influenced my attitude toward processed foods.
Moderation, in my opinion, is the key to living a healthy life. “No food is unhealthy until you overeat,” is my motto.
WHAT ARE ALTERNATIVES TO FOOD ADDITIVES?
It is nearly impossible to completely eliminate food additives from our diet in today’s world.
However, by focusing on including more fresh, wholesome foods in our diet, we may be able to limit our consumption of processed foods and, as a result, food additives.
Growing your own food and preserving it for later use is a great way to limit the amount of additives in your diet.
I’m fascinated by the homesteading lifestyle. These two hardworking homestead bloggers have taught me so much.
Katie and Patrick share a wealth of knowledge about food sustainability. Please take a look at their blog:
Food manufacturers use food additives to enhance the taste, texture, appearance, and shelf-life of their products.
Additives such as emulsifiers, stabilizers, and preservatives help to improve the consistency and stability of certain processed foods.
Artificial colors and flavors, on the other hand, are used to make products more appealing to consumers.
These additives can also help to reduce production costs by reducing spoilage and extending the shelf-life of food products.
Overall, food additives are an important tool for manufacturers to use in creating safe, high-quality, and appealing food products for consumers.
Here are two of my recipe blogs that I think you will enjoy.
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