Food additives are substances added to food to preserve flavor or enhance its taste, appearance, or other qualities. Some additives have been used for centuries; for example, preserving food by pickling (with vinegar), salting, as with bacon, preserving sweets or using sulfur dioxide as with wines. With the advent of processed foods in the second half of the twentieth century, many more additives have been introduced, of both natural and artificial origin. Food additives also include substances that may be introduced to food indirectly (called "indirect additives") in the manufacturing process, through packaging, or during storage or transport.
To regulate these additives, and inform consumers, each additive is assigned a unique number, termed as "E numbers", which is used in Europe for all approved additives. This numbering scheme has now been adopted and extended by the Codex Alimentarius Commission to internationally identify all additives, regardless of whether they are approved for use.
E numbers are all prefixed by "E", but countries outside Europe use only the number, whether the additive is approved in Europe or not. For example, acetic acid is written as E260 on products sold in Europe, but is simply known as additive 260 in some countries. Additive 103, alkannin, is not approved for use in Europe so does not have an E number, although it is approved for use in Australia and New Zealand. Since 1987, Australia has had an approved system of labelling for additives in packaged foods. Each food additive has to be named or numbered. The numbers are the same as in Europe, but without the prefix "E".
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists these items as "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS); they are listed under both their Chemical Abstracts Service number and FDA regulation under the United States Code of Federal Regulations.
Food additives can be divided into several groups, although there is some overlap because some additives exert more than one effect. For example, salt is both a preservative as well as a flavor.
With the increasing use of processed foods since the 19th century, food additives are more widely used. Many countries regulate their use. For example, boric acid was widely used as a food preservative from the 1870s to the 1920s, but was banned after World War I due to its toxicity, as demonstrated in animal and human studies. During World War II, the urgent need for cheap, available food preservatives led to it being used again, but it was finally banned in the 1950s. Such cases led to a general mistrust of food additives, and an application of the precautionary principle led to the conclusion that only additives that are known to be safe should be used in foods. In the United States, this led to the adoption of the Delaney clause, an amendment to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938, stating that no carcinogenic substances may be used as food additives. However, after the banning of cyclamates in the United States and Britain in 1969, saccharin, the only remaining legal artificial sweetener at the time, was found to cause cancer in rats. Widespread public outcry in the United States, partly communicated to Congress by postage-paid postcards supplied in the packaging of sweetened soft drinks, led to the retention of saccharin, despite its violation of the Delaney clause. However, in 2000, saccharin was found to be carcinogenic in rats due only to their unique urine chemistry.
In 2007, Food Standards Australia New Zealand published an official shoppers' guidance with which the concerns of food additives and their labeling are mediated. In the EU it can take 10 years or more to obtain approval for a new food additive. This includes five years of safety testing, followed by two years for evaluation by the European Food Safety Authority and another three years before the additive receives an EU-wide approval for use in every country in the European Union. Apart from testing and analyzing food products during the whole production process to ensure safety and compliance with regulatory standards, Trading Standards officers (in the UK) protect the public from any illegal use or potentially dangerous mis-use of food additives by performing random testing of food products.
There has been significant controversy associated with the risks and benefits of food additives. Natural additives may be similarly harmful or be the cause of allergic reactions in certain individuals. For example, safrole was used to flavor root beer until it was shown to be carcinogenic. Due to the application of the Delaney clause, it may not be added to foods, even though it occurs naturally in sassafras and sweet basil.
A subset of food additives, micronutrients added in food fortification processes preserve nutrient value by providing vitamins and minerals to foods such as flour, cereal, margarine and milk which normally would not retain such high levels. Preservatives also reduce spoilage from sources such as air, bacteria, fungi, and yeast.
Many food additives absorb radiation in the ultraviolet or visible regions of the spectrum. This absorbance can be used to determine the concentration of an additive in a sample using external calibration. However, additives may occur together and the absorbance by one could interfere with the absorbance of another. A prior separation stage is necessary and the additives are first separated by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and then determined on-line using a UV and/or visible light detector.
Acceptable daily intake or ADI is a measure of the amount of a specific substance (originally applied for a food additive, later also for a residue of a veterinary drug or pesticide) in food or drinking water that can be ingested (orally) on a daily basis over a lifetime without an appreciable health risk. ADIs are expressed usually in milligrams (of the substance) per kilograms of body weight per day.Butylated hydroxyanisole
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) is an antioxidant consisting of a mixture of two isomeric organic compounds, 2-tert-butyl-4-hydroxyanisole and 3-tert-butyl-4-hydroxyanisole. It is prepared from 4-methoxyphenol and isobutylene. It is a waxy solid used as a food additive with the E number E320. The primary use for BHA is as an antioxidant and preservative in food, food packaging, animal feed, cosmetics, rubber, and petroleum products. BHA also is commonly used in medicines, such as isotretinoin, lovastatin, and simvastatin, among others.Butylated hydroxytoluene
Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), also known as dibutylhydroxytoluene, is a lipophilic organic compound, chemically a derivative of phenol, that is useful for its antioxidant properties. European and U.S. regulations allow small amounts to be used as a food additive. In addition to this use, BHT is widely used to prevent oxidation in fluids (e.g. fuel, oil) and other materials where free radicals must be controlled.Disodium inosinate
Disodium inosinate (E631) is the disodium salt of inosinic acid with the chemical formula C10H11N4Na2O8P. It is used as a food additive and often found in instant noodles, potato chips, and a variety of other snacks. Although it can be obtained from bacterial fermentation of sugars, it is often commercially prepared
E numbers are codes for substances that are permitted to be used as food additives for use within the European Union and EFTA. The "E" stands for "Europe". Commonly found on food labels, their safety assessment and approval are the responsibility of the European Food Safety Authority.Having a single unified list for food additives was first agreed upon in 1962 with food colouring. In 1964, the directives for preservatives were added, 1970 for antioxidants and 1974 for the emulsifiers, stabilisers, thickeners and gelling agents.Flavin mononucleotide
Flavin mononucleotide (FMN), or riboflavin-5′-phosphate, is a biomolecule produced from riboflavin (vitamin B2) by the enzyme riboflavin kinase and functions as prosthetic group of various oxidoreductases including NADH dehydrogenase as well as cofactor in biological blue-light photo receptors. During the catalytic cycle, a reversible interconversion of the oxidized (FMN), semiquinone (FMNH•) and reduced (FMNH2) forms occurs in the various oxidoreductases. FMN is a stronger oxidizing agent than NAD and is particularly useful because it can take part in both one- and two-electron transfers. In its role as blue-light photo receptor, (oxidized) FMN stands out from the 'conventional' photo receptors as the signaling state and not an E/Z isomerization.
It is the principal form in which riboflavin is found in cells and tissues. It requires more energy to produce, but is more soluble than riboflavin.Food Additives Amendment of 1958
The Food Additives Amendment of 1958 is a 1958 amendment to the United States' Food, Drugs, and Cosmetic Act of 1938. It was a response to concerns about the safety of new food additives. The amendment established an exemption from the "food additive" definition and requirements for substances "generally recognized as safe" by scientific experts in the field, based on long history of use before 1958 or based on scientific studies. New food additives would be subject to testing including by the "Delaney clause". The Delaney clause was a provision in the amendment which said that if a substance were found to cause cancer in man or animal, then it could not be used as a food additive.Generally recognized as safe
Generally recognized as safe (GRAS) is a United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) designation that a chemical or substance added to food is considered safe by experts, and so is exempted from the usual Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) food additive tolerance requirements. The concept of food additives being "generally recognized as safe" was first described in the Food Additives Amendment of 1958, and all additives introduced after this time had to be evaluated by new standards.High-maltose corn syrup
High-maltose corn syrup is a food additive used as a sweetener and preservative. The majority sugar is maltose. It is less sweet than high-fructose corn syrup and contains little to no fructose. It is sweet enough to be useful as a sweetener in commercial food production, however. To be given the label "high", the syrup must contain at least 50% maltose. Typically, it contains 40–50% maltose, though some have as high as 70%.By using β-amylase or fungal α-amylase, glucose syrups containing over 50% maltose, or even over 70% maltose (extra-high-maltose syrup) can be produced.p. 465 This is possible because these enzymes remove two glucose units, that is, one maltose molecule at a time from the end of the starch molecule.Lecithin
Lecithin (UK: , US: , from the Greek lekithos, "egg yolk") is a generic term to designate any group of yellow-brownish fatty substances occurring in animal and plant tissues, which are amphiphilic – they attract both water and fatty substances (and so are both hydrophilic and lipophilic), and are used for smoothing food textures, emulsifying, homogenizing liquid mixtures, and repelling sticking materials.Lecithins are mixtures of glycerophospholipids including phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylinositol, phosphatidylserine, and phosphatidic acid.Lecithin was first isolated in 1845 by the French chemist and pharmacist Theodore Gobley. In 1850, he named the phosphatidylcholine lécithine. Gobley originally isolated lecithin from egg yolk—λέκιθος lekithos is "egg yolk" in Ancient Greek—and established the complete chemical formula of phosphatidylcholine in 1874; in between, he had demonstrated the presence of lecithin in a variety of biological matters, including venous blood, in human lungs, bile, human brain tissue, fish eggs, fish roe, and chicken and sheep brain.
Lecithin can easily be extracted chemically using solvents such as hexane, ethanol, acetone, petroleum ether, benzene, etc., or extraction can be done mechanically. It is usually available from sources such as soybeans, eggs, milk, marine sources, rapeseed, cottonseed, and sunflower. It has low solubility in water, but is an excellent emulsifier. In aqueous solution, its phospholipids can form either liposomes, bilayer sheets, micelles, or lamellar structures, depending on hydration and temperature. This results in a type of surfactant that usually is classified as amphipathic. Lecithin is sold as a food additive and dietary supplement. In cooking, it is sometimes used as an emulsifier and to prevent sticking, for example in nonstick cooking spray.Monosodium phosphate
Monosodium phosphate (MSP), also known as monobasic sodium phosphate and sodium dihydrogen phosphate, is an inorganic compound of sodium with a dihydrogen phosphate (H2PO4−) anion. One of many sodium phosphates, it is a common industrial chemical. The salt exists in an anhydrous form, as well as mono- and dihydrates.Pyrophosphate
In chemistry, a pyrophosphate are phosphorus oxyanions that contain a P-O-P linkage. A number of pyrophosphate salts exist, such as Na2H2P2O7, as well as the normal pyrophosphates. Often pyrophosphates are called diphosphates. The parent pyrophosphates are derived from partial or complete neutralization of pyrophosphoric acid. Important salts are disodium pyrophosphate and tetrasodium pyrophosphate. The pyrophosphate bond, as found in ATP, is very important in biochemistry.
Pyrophosphates are prepared by heating phosphates, hence the name pyro-phosphate (from the Ancient Greek: πῦρ, πυρός, translit. pyro, lit. 'fire'). More precisely, they are generated by heating phosphoric acids to the extent that a condensation reaction occurs.
Pyrophosphates are generally white or colorless. The alkali metal salts are water soluble. They are good complexing agents for metal ions (such as calcium and many transition metals) and have many uses in industrial chemistry. Pyrophosphate is the first member of an entire series of polyphosphates.The term pyrophosphate is also the name of esters formed by the condensation of a phosphorylated biological compound with inorganic phosphate, as for dimethylallyl pyrophosphate. This bond is also referred to as a high-energy phosphate bond.Sodium hexametaphosphate
Sodium hexametaphosphate (SHMP) is a hexamer of composition (NaPO3)6. Sodium hexametaphosphate of commerce is typically a mixture of polymeric metaphosphates, of which the hexamer is one, and is usually the compound referred to by this name. It is more correctly termed sodium polymetaphosphate.Spice
A spice is a seed, fruit, root, bark, or other plant substance primarily used for flavoring, coloring or preserving food. Spices are distinguished from herbs, which are the leaves, flowers, or stems of plants used for flavoring or as a garnish. Many spices have antimicrobial properties. This may explain why spices are more commonly used in warmer climates, which have more infectious diseases, and why the use of spices is prominent in meat, which is particularly susceptible to spoiling. Spices are sometimes used in medicine, religious rituals, cosmetics or perfume production.Stevia
Stevia () is a sweetener and sugar substitute extracted from the leaves of the plant species Stevia rebaudiana, native to Brazil and Paraguay. The active compounds are steviol glycosides (mainly stevioside and rebaudioside), which have 30 to 150 times the sweetness of sugar, are heat-stable, pH-stable, and not fermentable. The body does not metabolize the glycosides in stevia and therefore it contains 0 calories like some artificial sweeteners. Stevia's taste has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar, and some of its extracts may have a bitter or licorice-like aftertaste at high concentrations.
The legal status of stevia as a food additive or dietary supplement varies from country to country. In the United States, high-purity stevia glycoside extracts are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) since 2008 and allowed as ingredients in food products, but stevia leaf and crude extracts do not have GRAS or Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for use in food. The European Union approved stevia additives in 2011, while the people of Japan have widely used stevia as a sweetener for decades.Stigmasterol
Stigmasterol – a plant sterol (phytosterol) – is among the most abundant of plant sterols, having a major function to maintain the structure and physiology of cell membranes. In the European Union, it is a food additive listed with E number E499, and may be used in food manufacturing to increase the phytosterol content, potentially lowering the levels of LDL cholesterol.Sunset Yellow FCF
Sunset Yellow FCF (also known as Orange Yellow S, or C.I. 15985) is a petroleum-derived orange azo dye with a pH dependent maximum absorption at about 480 nm at pH 1 and 443 nm at pH 13 with a shoulder at 500 nm. When added to foods sold in the US it is known as FD&C Yellow 6; when sold in Europe, it is denoted by E Number E110.Trisodium phosphate
Trisodium phosphate (TSP) is the inorganic compound with the chemical formula Na3PO4. It is a white, granular or crystalline solid, highly soluble in water, producing an alkaline solution. TSP is used as a cleaning agent, builder, lubricant, food additive, stain remover, and degreaser.The item of commerce is often partially hydrated and may range from anhydrous Na3PO4 to the dodecahydrate Na3PO4 • 12H2O. Most often found in white powder form, it can also be called trisodium orthophosphate or simply sodium phosphate.Xanthan gum
Xanthan gum () is a polysaccharide with many industrial uses, including as a common food additive. It is an effective thickening agent and stabilizer to prevent ingredients from separating. It can be produced from simple sugars using a fermentation process, and derives its name from the species of bacteria used, Xanthomonas campestris.
|Infectious and epidemic|
|Food hygiene and|