Food additives www.foodafactoflife.org.uk Food a fact of life 2019 What are food additives? Food additives are substances added to products to perform specific technological functions. These functions include preserving, i.e. increasing shelf-life or inhibiting the growth of pathogens, or adding colour and enhancing flavour for interest and variety. There are over 300 permitted additives that can be used in the UK. Flavourings are not included in this figure, as they are classified differently. However, flavour enhancers (substances which make flavours stronger) are included.
A list of approved additives can be found at the Food Standards Agency, 2018 Food Standards Agency2014 website. European Food Safety Authority, Jams contain several kinds of additives, including emulsifiers and gelling agents. www.foodafactoflife.org.uk
Food a fact of life 2019 What are E numbers? An E number is given to an additive to show that it has been approved for use in the EU (E stands for Europe). The European Food Safety Authority is responsible for regulating E numbers and making sure they are safe for consumption. E numbers apply to all additives, regardless of whether they come from natural sources or are man made. E numbers are individually approved for use in different foods. This means that an E number cannot be used in any food, but only in a list of foods that it is approved for, where it is deemed appropriate safe. 2019 European Food Safetyand
Authority, Anthocyanins (E163) can be extracted from red cabbage and used as a red food colouring Caramel (E150) is a synthetic colouring, commonly used to colour colas. www.foodafactoflife.org.uk Food a fact of life 2019 Types of additives
Additives may be: natural found naturally, such as extracts from beetroot juice (E162), used as a colouring agent; synthetic man-made identical copies of substances found naturally, such as benzoic acid (E210), used as a preservative; artificial produced synthetically and not found naturally, such as nisin (E234), used as a preservative in some dairy products, pasteurised liquid eggs and in semolina and tapioca puddings. www.foodafactoflife.org.uk Food a fact of life 2019 Preservatives Preservatives aim to:
prevent the growth of micro-organisms which could cause food spoilage and lead to food poisoning; extend the shelf-life of products, so that they can be distributed and sold to the consumer with a longer shelf-life. For example, bacon, ham, corned beef and other cured meats are often treated with nitrite and nitrate (E249 - E252) during the curing process. www.foodafactoflife.org.uk Food a fact of life 2019 Antioxidants Antioxidants aim to: prevent food containing fat or oil from going rancid due to oxidation (i.e. developing an unpleasant odour or flavour);
prevent the browning of cut fruit, vegetables and fruit juices (and so increase shelf life and appearance). Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, or E300, is one of the most widely used antioxidants. www.foodafactoflife.org.uk Food a fact of life 2019 Colours Colours aim to: restore colour lost during processing or storage, e.g. marrowfat peas; ensure that each batch produced is identical in appearance or does not appear off; reinforce colour already in foods, e.g. enhance the
yellowness of a custard; give colour to foods which otherwise would be colourless (e.g. soft drinks) and so make them more attractive. www.foodafactoflife.org.uk Food a fact of life 2019 Colours and hyperactivity Certain combinations of artificial food colours have been linked to a negative effect on childrens behaviour : sunset yellow (E110) quinoline yellow (E104) carmoisine (E122)
allura red (E129) tartrazine (E102) ponceau 4R (E124) These colours are used in soft drinks, sweets and ice cream. Food and drink containing any of these six colours must carry a warning on the packaging, which reads: May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children. Food Standards Agency, 2018 www.foodafactoflife.org.uk Food a fact of life 2019 Flavour enhancers
Flavour enhancers bring out the flavour in foods without imparting a flavour of their own, e.g. monosodium glutamate (E621) enhances umami flavours. Flavourings, on the other hand, are added to a wide range of foods, usually in small amounts to give a particular taste. These do not have E numbers because they are controlled by different food laws. Ingredients lists will say if flavourings have been used, but individual flavourings might not be named. www.foodafactoflife.org.uk Food a fact of life 2019 Sweeteners Sweeteners include: intense sweeteners (e.g. acesulfame K, aspartame and
stevia) have a sweetness many times that of sugar and therefore are used in small amounts, e.g. in soft drinks and sweetening tablets; bulk sweeteners, e.g. sorbitol, have a similar sweetness to sugar and are used at similar levels. Sorbitol is often used in sugar-free chewing gum and sweets. Glucose (top) and aspartame (bottom). Both are sweet but are structurally very different. www.foodafactoflife.org.uk Food a fact of life 2019 Acids, bases and buffers
Acids, bases and buffers control the acidity or alkalinity of food, for safety and stability of flavour. www.foodafactoflife.org.uk Food a fact of life 2019 Anti-caking agents Anti-caking agents ensure free movement or flow of particles (e.g. in dried milk or table salt). Anti-foaming agents Anti-foaming agents prevent or disperse frothing (e.g. in the production of fruit juices). www.foodafactoflife.org.uk
Food a fact of life 2019 Glazing agents Glazing agents provide a protective coating or sheen on the surface of foods, e.g. confectionery (for appearance and shelf-life). www.foodafactoflife.org.uk Food a fact of life 2019 Emulsifiers, stabilisers, gelling agents and thickeners Emulsifiers help mix ingredients together that would normally separate (e.g. lecithins (E322)).
Stabilisers prevent ingredients from separating again, e.g. locust bean gum (E410). Emulsifers and stabilisers give food a consistent texture. They can be found in low-fat spreads. Gelling agents are used to change the consistency of a food (e.g. pectin (E440)), which is used to make jam. Thickeners help give food body and can be found in most sauces. Lecithins can be found in egg yolks and soya beans www.foodafactoflife.org.uk Food a fact of life 2019
Food additives For further information, go to: www.foodafactoflife.org.uk www.foodafactoflife.org.uk Food a fact of life 2019
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