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    What food additives are in food?

    What food additives are in food?

    Food additives are substances which are added to food, particularly packaged food, to enhance their properties, suitable for market sales. There is a wide variety of additives available in the world, each with its unique properties, lending a distinctive trait to the foods to which they are added. Some additives are flavor enhancers, whereas some are preservatives, or acidulants, or stabilizers, or something else. Let’s understand more about natural and artificial food additives in detail.

    what food additives are in food

    What Are The Food Additives

    The term food additive refers to any common chemicals in food which can be used in the production of any kind of food. These are most commonly used by big manufacturers of packaged foods such as savory snacks, sweet snacks, dairy products, bakery foods, soft drinks and other beverages, convenience foods, and more. There are a number of color additives in food as well. Based on the particular needs of the product, manufacturers use a varied combination of additives to suit the recipe.

    When you look at food additives in food, you will also notice e numbers. Ever wondered what are e numbers in food additives? To put it simply, the e numbers in food additives are codes assigned to specific food additives as an identification mark. The ‘E’ in it means that the code has been assigned by an EU or EFTA authority. For instance, E621 refers to msg.

    Types of Additives In Food

    There is a wide variety of food additives available in the market from which food manufacturers can choose the ideal option. These additives are divided into various categories for simpler identification. The main kinds of food additives include the following:

    Preservatives: As the name suggests, preservatives are those common additives in food which are added with the purpose of prolonging the shelf life of the foods to which they are added. The most commonly used food preservatives list includes sodium benzoate, sodium dehydroacetate, sodium metabisulfite, calcium propionate, potassium sorbate, and more.
    Among these, chemicals like potassium sorbate have attracted some critical interest from people with many wondering if potassium sorbate is healthy or unhealthy. In general, the rumor that potassium sorbate bad for you is simply incorrect as it has been recognized as a safe to consume food additive when consumed in regulated amounts.

    additives in food

    Thickening Agents: Thickening agents are those synthetic or natural additives in food which are used for modifying the consistency and texture of foods. These are most commonly used in foods like soups, jellies, gravies, etc. Some of the most common thickeners include xanthan gum, gum arabic, gelatin, oxidized starch, calcium chloride, gellan gum, sodium alginate, and more.

    Acidulants: Acidulants are another kind of commonly used chemical additives in food which serve multiple purposes like modifying the flavor of foods, adding a certain acidic or tart flavor to them. There are numerous kinds of acidulants used in the food industry including lactic acid, calcium lactate, sodium lactate, tartaric acid, malic acid, citric acid, etc.

    Flavor Enhancers: The next commonly used category of food additives widely used by food manufacturers is flavor enhancers. As the name suggests, these are especially created to improve the flavor of the food. Common examples of additives in food for flavor enhancement include msg, disodium inosinate, glycine, etc.

    Sweeteners: A very important additives in foods category, sweeteners are derived from both natural and artificial sources to be used extensively in different foods. Aspartame, for example, is a very popular artificial sweetener which is also surrounded by a lot of concerns like is aspartame bad for you. Other common sweetener food additives include sucralose, fructose corn syrup, crystalline fructose, polydextrose, maltodextrin, sorbitol, etc.

    Antioxidants: Antioxidants in food additives are those which are distinctly used for the purpose of regulating food stability and preventing foods from getting oxidized when exposed to air or heat. Ascorbic acid and Tocopherols are the most commonly available and used types of food additives from this category.

    food with additives

    Coloring Agents: Coloring agents are another class of additives. Interestingly, these carry food additives e numbers to indicate whether or not the color is approved by the EU. Some of the most commonly used ones are e133 or ‘brilliant blue’, e132 or ‘carmine’, e143 or ‘solid green’, e102 or ‘yellow’, and e129 or ‘red’, among others.

    Phosphates: Phosphate in food additives also finds extensive use in the food industry for its ability to boost the creaminess of foods and avoid the formation of clumps, thereby preserving the texture of foods. Common phosphates used include dicalcium phosphate, tetrasodium phosphate, and sodium tripolyphosphate, among other options.


    These unique food additives when combined give processed foods their delectable taste, shelf stability, long-lasting nature, tartness, sweetness, and more. Without these, the food industry would suffer quite significantly. As a consumer, checking the additive list can be a valuable tool to ensure you pick food with additives that are good for you, or at the very least, are not potentially harmful.

    Related Posts:
    1. Common Food Additives
    2. Food Additives Buying Guide

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