Food additives are substances that are commonly added to the food items to increase the shelf-life and prevent easy spoiling of food by inhibiting the growth of bacteria, fungi and molds. These additives not only help in preserving and storing food for a long time, but enhance the flavor and refurbish the nutrients that are lost during food processing. They make the foods look visually appealing.
Different types of food additives are added for various purposes. Some of them are as follows:
- Preservatives: They are added to soft drinks, acidic foods, beer and margarine to prevent the bacterial and fungal growth. Benzoates, sulphites, nitrates and nitrites are examples of preservatives.
- Antioxidants: They contain certain essential nutrients that are important for the body. They also prevent the fats from turning into rancid. They protect the body against heart disease as well as cancer. They are added to fatty and acidic food products. Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and Tocopherol (Vitamin E) are examples of antioxidants.
- Artificial colors make the food look visually appealing and are added to sweets, baked items, jams, margarine and soft drinks. They are commonly added to those food items which children love! Examples include caramel, dehydrated beets and carrot oil.
- Artificial flavors enhance the taste of many processed and canned foods like meats.
- Stabilizers, thickeners and emulsifiers are added to the foods to increase smoothness and volume and to improve the food texture. Jellies, chocolates, ice creams, puddings and milkshakes normally contain these additives. Cellulose and glycerol are some examples that fall into this category.
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