Food additives are used for a variety of reasons, from maintaining your foods nutritional value, to improving the taste, texture, appearance and safety of your food. That’s right, despite all the hype around food additives they are actually often used to improve the safety of what we eat.
So what is a food additive anyway?
In simple terms a food additive is a substance that is added to food that changes its characteristics somehow. Food additives have to classifications – direct and indirect. Direct additives are added to food for a specific purpose – examples are sugar or salt. Indirect additives on the other hand are those that get included in the food in minor amounts as a result of handling or storage.
Great, but how are they used?
Often additives are used to improve the nutritional value of food. Vitamins and minerals are added to help improve people diets and enhance the nutritional value of what we eat.
They are also used to improve the safety and freshness of the food that we eat. Preservatives are essential to slow food spoilage caused by bacteria, air and mold. They also help control contamination and life threatening botulism.
In addition to helping with safety and nutritional value, additives improve texture, taste and appearance. Natural flavors, spices and sweeteners are added to enhance the taste of food. Stabilizers, thickeners and emulsifiers such as carrageenan are used to give food products the consistent texture and consistency that you expect. Find out more here..
Some common food additives:
Carrageenan is a common natural food additive that is essentially a form of seaweed. It is used as a stabilizer and thickener and is responsible for making your favorites foods have an appealing texture. Carrageenan is completely safe and has been approved by recognized health organizations for human consumption.
Artificial food colors are dyes used to enhance the color of food and drinks. The FDA considers food colors safe to use when used properly.
To summarize everything
Food additives and ingredients have been used for many many years to flavor, preserve, color and thicken food. They help ensure that the foods we know and love are readily available, full of flavor, safe and nutritious. All food additives are strictly monitored and regulated by the FDA. Regulations dictate that all substances have to be proven safe for human consumption before being added to food.
So there we have it – food additives are used to help deliver you the safe, tasty and nutritious food that we eat.