Food additives don’t have nutritional value, but they are added to food in small amounts to serve a specific function. Some, like preservatives, stop bacteria or mould from spoiling your food, so that it lasts longer. Colourings are used to make our food looks more appealing. Emulsifiers allow water and oils to remain mixed together in an emulsion, like in mayonnaise for example. Even though they might have a negative perception, every additive that we find on our plate has been thoroughly tested and approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and classified as safe.
Despite modern-day associations, food additives have been used for centuries. Over the last 50 years, developments in food science and technology have led to the discovery of many new substances that can fulfil numerous functions in foods.
A list of food additives used in the European Union.
EU legislation on food additives is based on the principle that only additives that have passed a full safety assessment are authorised for use. Despite this, a recent Eurobarometer survey indicated that 66%...
Researchers from the University College Dublin looked at the regulatory basis for the use of food additives, focusing on young children’s dietary exposure to food additives.
Over 30 years ago, it was proposed that hyperactivity tied with learning disabilities may be linked to artificial food colors as well as certain fruits and vegetables
Add oil to water and the two liquids will never mix. At least not until an emulsifier is added. Emulsifiers are molecules with one water-loving (hydrophilic) and one oil-loving (hydrophobic) end. They make it possible for water and oil to become finely dispersed in each other, creating a stable, homogenous, smooth emulsion.
Some acidifiers also act as stabilizers, others help antioxidants or emulsifiers, or assist in colour retention. It may seem a minor parameter, but to maintain the appropriate pH is the first step to ensure food safety and a longer shelf life.
Preservatives are a recurring topic in public discussions, and whenever it crops up, many consumers associate them with harmful, modern chemicals in foodstuffs. But, as a brief look back into the past will show, preservation of food was practised several hundred years ago when man first used salt (salting) and smoke (curing) to stop meat and fish from going bad.
Antioxidants are present in many foodstuffs, and everyone has heard of them at some time or other or seen them listed as additives on food packaging. But what are they supposed to do in foods? And why do they play such an important role in many products?
One food ingredient that is commonly on the receiving end of bad press is monosodium glutamate, or MSG. However this is unfounded. Monosodium glutamate can be safely used to add flavour and appeal to foods, and even to reduce sodium levels in foods.