• Written By Pavithra VG
  • Last Modified 25-01-2023

Food Additives: Types, Examples, Advantages, Disadvantages

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Food Additives: Health is Wealth so all of us search for food without added colours, flavours, sweeteners, etc. What do you call all these groups together? These are together called food additives. This article lets us indulge in food additives, their types, examples, advantages, and disadvantages.

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What are Food Additives?

Many chemicals are added to food for their preservation and to enhance their appeal. These are called food additives.

Types of Food Additives

The different types of food additives used in food are:

  1. Flavors and sweeteners
  2. Antioxidants
  3. Preservatives
  4. Food colors (dyes)
  5. Fat emulsifiers and stabilizing agent
  6. Flour improvers antistaling agents and bleaches.
  7. Nutritional supplements such as vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

Except for nutritional supplements, all others do not have nutritional value.

What are Artificial Sweetening Agents?

The chemical compound which gives a sweetening taste to the food and enhances its order and flavour is called an artificial sweetening agent. Sweetness is commonly associated with sugars. The monosaccharides and disaccharides are sweet.

Cane syrup, honey, lactose (milk sugar) are the most common natural sweetening agents. Some important artificial sweeteners are saccharin, dulcin, cyclamate, nectarine, sucralose, aspartame.

What are Artificial Sweetening Agents?

Saccharin (ortho-sulphobenzimide)

It is the first most popular artificial sweating agent. It has been used as a sweetening agent for many food items since \(1879\). It is \(1,{\rm{ }}2\)-benzisothiazolin-\(3\)-one-\(1,{\rm{ }}1\)-dioxide and occurs as a white crystalline powder. It has a very sweet taste and is about \(550\) times sweeter than sucrose. It is excreted from the body in the urine unchanged. Its use is of great value to a diabetic person and people who need to control the intake of calories.

Dulcin

Dulcin was the second artificial sweetener discovered in \(1884\). It didn’t get market acceptability and was banned in \(1951.\)

Aspartame

Aspartame is one of the most widely used artificial sweeteners. It is the methyl ester of dipeptide derived from aspartic acid and phenylalanine. It is about \(100\) times sweeter than sucrose. Aspartame is unstable at cooking temperature, and therefore, it is used as a sugar substitute for cold foods and soft drinks.

Alitame

 Alitame is a high potency sweetness and is more stable than aspartame during cooking, but it is difficult to control the sweetness of the food to which they are added.

Sucralose

Sucralose is a colourless, trichloro derivative of sucrose. Its appearance and taste are similar to sugar and are stable at cooking temperature. It does not provide calories.

What are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are substances that prevent or return the oxidative deterioration of food. Antioxidants act as radical inhibitors. These retard the action of oxygen on fatty or oily food and help in the preservation of food material. Vitamin \(E\) is a naturally occurring preservative found in vegetable oil.

Antioxidants minimize the damage to some amino acids and the loss of some vitamins due to rancidity. During the oxidation of food, free radicals are generated. The antioxidants react with these free radicals and stop the chain reaction of the oxidation of the food. Thus, antioxidants decrease the rate of involvement of free radicals in the ageing process.

The most common antioxidants are butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA). Ascorbic acid (vitamin \(C\)) and tocopherols (vitamin \(E\)) have also been used as antioxidants.

What are Antioxidants?

Sulfur dioxide and sulfite are active as antimicrobial agents, structure modifiers, antioxidants, and enzyme inhibitors. Therefore, sodium or potassium sulfite and bisulfite are used in wine and beers, fruit juices, pickles, sugar syrups, and cut peeled or dried fruits and vegetables.

What is Food Preservation?

The process in which the perishable food materials are given a suitable chemical or physical treatment to prevent their spoilage and to retain their nutritive value for a longer period is called food preservation.

There are two basic methods of food preservation. They are,
1. Bactericidal methods: In this method, the microorganism responsible for the spoilage of food material is eliminated.
2. Bacteriostatic methods: In this method, the condition is created to return the growth and action of the food spoiling microorganisms such as bacteria and enzymes.

The presence of a high concentration of salt squeezes out water from the food material through osmosis. This prevents the spoilage of food by inhibiting bacterial growth.

Sugar syrup containing more than \(68\% \) sugar also inhibits bacterial growth as there is very little free water.

Besides salt and sugar, vinegar, oil, citric acid, and spices also act as food preservatives.

What are Chemical Food Preservatives?

A chemical substance that prevents the spoilage of food material by destroying the food spoiling microorganism in it is called a food preservative.

Some examples of chemical food preservatives are,

1. Sodium Benzoate: It is used to preserve fruit juices and squash as sodium benzoate is soluble in water. It kills the food spoiling microorganism. It is metabolized by the conversion of hippuric acid \(\left( {{{\rm{C}}_{\rm{6}}}{{\rm{H}}_{\rm{5}}}{\rm{CONHC}}{{\rm{H}}_{\rm{2}}}{\rm{COOH}}} \right)\) that is ultimately excreted out in the urine.

What are Chemical Food Preservatives?

2. Sodium or Potassium Metabisulphite: it is used for preserving colourless fruits like apple, litchi, mango chutney and lemon squashes, etc. These react with the acids of fruits are juices and produce sulfur dioxide, which kills the microorganisms.

Salts of propanoic acid and sorbic acid are used as preservatives for controlling the growth of yeast and moulds in food items such as cheese, pickles, baked food, certain meat, and fish products.

Is Food Colour a Food Additive?

Food colours (dyes) are used to increase the appearance of the food. Acidic and basic dyes are widely used synthetic dyes. Some examples of food colours are carmoisine, erythrosine, sunset yellow, indigo, etc.

What are Fat Emulsifiers and Stabilising Agents?

A fat emulsifier helps in mixing oil with water, whereas stabilizing agents stabilize the emulsified mixture. Glycol esters, propylene glycol esters, and cellulose ethers are a few examples that are used for making food emulsions and for stabilizing them.

What is the Food Additive FSSAI Manual?

The FSSAI stands for Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. FSSAI has been created for laying down science-based standards for articles of food and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale, and import to ensure the availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption. FSSAI manual gives the list of food additives used in different food items, its permissible percentage, and the qualitative test for identification of different food additives.

What are the Advantages of Food Additives?

  1. Food additives improve the quality, texture, consistency, appearance, and other technical requirements of the food material.
  2. Food additives are added to increase the shelf-life of the stored food or for cosmetic purposes.
  3. Antioxidants, preservatives, fat emulsifiers, and stabilizing agents as well as flavor improvers, are used to increase the shelf-life of the stored food.  Dyes, flavors, and sweetening agents help to improve their cosmetic value.
  4. Food additives like nutritional supplements such as vitamins, minerals, and amino acids have unique health benefits.
  5. With the help of food preservatives, seasonal crops and fruits are available throughout the year.
  6. Food additives are used to lower the calories.

What are the Disadvantages of Food Additives?

  1. Several additives can cause allergic reactions, gastric irritation, diarrhoea, rashes, asthma, nausea, respiratory irritation, risk of cancer, etc.
  2. It may lead to hyperactivity and affect the nervous system.
  3. Food additives sometimes destroy vitamins in the food, replacing real ingredients.
  4. During food preservation, there may be a loss of nutritive value of the food.

Food Additives Effect on Health

The use of food additives increases the market value, but some of the food additives show the following health problems:

  1. Usage of food with high food additive may lead to weight gain.
  2. Artificial colours may cause allergies and hyperactivity in children.
  3. It shows potential cancer-causing effects.
  4. Increased use of food additives leads to suppression in the immune response.
  5. It interferes with hormones, thereby affecting development and growth.
  6. It causes gastric irritation, diarrhoea, asthma, nausea, respiratory irritation, etc.

Summary

In this article, you acquired knowledge about food additives like artificial sweeteners, antioxidants, and food preservatives with a good number of examples. You have also gained knowledge on the advantages and disadvantages of food additives.

Food Additives FAQS

Q.1. What are the types of food additives?
Ans: The different types of food additives used in food are flavours and sweeteners, food colours (dyes), fat emulsifiers and stabilizing agents, antioxidants, preservatives, and nutritional supplements such as vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

Q.2. What are food additives?
Ans: Many chemicals are added to food for their preservation and to enhance their appeal; these are called food additives.

Q.3. What are the benefits of food additives?
Ans: Food additives improve the quality, texture, consistency, appearance, and other technical requirements of the food material.

Q.4. What are the most common food additives?
Ans: Preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colouring agents, and antioxidants are the commonly used food additives.

Q.5. What are the functions of food additives?
Ans: Food additives are added to increase the shelf-life of the stored food or for cosmetic purposes. Antioxidants, preservatives, fat emulsifiers, and stabilizing agents, as well as flavour improvers, are used to increase the shelf-life of the stored food. Dyes, flavours, and sweetening agents help to improve their cosmetic value.

Q.6. What are the disadvantages of food additives?
Ans: Several additives can cause allergic reactions, gastric irritation, diarrhoea, rashes, asthma, nausea, respiratory irritation and hyperactivity, risk of cancer, etc. Food additives sometimes destroy vitamins in the food, replacing real ingredients.

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We hope this article on Food Additives has helped you. If you have any queries, drop a comment below, and we will get back to you.

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