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Why is it that in many people's minds all additives are harmful chemicals with nasty E-numbers?

Micronutrients as food additives - News - Understanding vitamins & more - NUTRI-FACTS

And why is it that the roles of food additives have been so badly misunderstood? Despite their modern-day associations, food additives have been used for centuries. The preservation of food is an age-old necessity and salt and saltpetre were used to preserve meat and vinegar to pickle vegetables. Cooks regularly used baking powder as a raising agent, thickeners for sauces and gravies, and colours such as cochineal to transform good-quality raw materials into foods that were safe, wholesome and enjoyable to eat. The overall aims of traditional home cooking and those foods prepared and preserved using food manufacturing methods remain the same, only today we rely on a very small number of people to supply most of the foods for a largely urban population.

The catalyst for the negative focus on additives was a change in labelling requirements in the s, which required the declaration of each individual additive in the ingredient list of most pre-packed foods. Until that time, additives were declared using general groupings that reflected their functions in the food, for example, preservatives, antioxidants and colours. These new labelling regulations brought in some lengthy lists of chemical names and a new E-numbering system, which was intended to make it easier for consumers to identify additives, and simply meant that they had been passed as safe for use in the European Community.

Consumer interest was fuelled by many emotive articles in the tabloid press on the 'harmful' effects of all 'chemical' additives, which were blamed for a wide variety of ill effects, ranging from hyperactivity to chronic disease. However, a very positive outcome of this 'anti-additive campaign' was that food manufacturers scrutinised their use of additives, with a view to eliminating or minimising their use.

What are Food Additives?

A parallel development was the growth in chill foods and in the wider use of refrigeration and freezing techniques as alternative methods of food preservation. Today, food additives are strictly regulated and are subject to regular safety reviews. They are used to give color to fish and meat pies, ready-made deserts and soups Some minerals and their derivatives that pose no risk to health are added to foods as preservatives or stabilizers, or as thickeners to increase viscosity and as emulsifiers or separating agents, to give the pro- ducts a longer shelf-life, keep them looking appetizing and reducing caking.

It is obtained commercially from starch and molasses. It inhibits the occurrence of yeasts and molds. Calcium citrates E are the calcium salts of citric acid. Calcium phosphates E are the salts of phosphoric acid. These bind metal ions and moreover support the effects of antioxidants. Therefore, they are also used to stabilize the consistency of canned vegetables. Calcium phosphates serve as acidity regulators, e. They are also added to other powders to improve pourability and avoid caking 23, Calcium alginate E is the calcium salt of the alginic acid obtained from brown algae and is added to foods as a stabilizer and thickener, especially in ice creams and cream products.

Calcium oxide E , also known as quicklime or burnt lime, is used primarily as an acidity regulator in cocoa products and baked goods, as well as in the preparation of natural casings for the manufacture of sausages 25, In food they are used pri- marily as emulsifiers for baked goods.

They are added to powders to prevent caking and they increase the effectiveness of antioxidants 27, Magnesium hydroxide carbonate E , which is the result of the chemical reaction of magnesium and carbon dioxide, is added to foods as an acidity regulator, carrier sub- stance and separating agent, for example for the chemical digestion of cocoa and milk protein, to table water and to common salt Magnesium hydroxide E can neutralize acids and is used as an acidity regulator — mainly in the manufacture of cheese and canned vegetables. It is often used just as a technical adjuvant, and is no longer detectable in the finished product 29, Magnesium oxide E occurs after incineration of magnesium carbonate.

It has an acid-neutralizing effect, helps chemically digest cocoa and milk protein and acts as an anti-caking agent in powders. In this function it is added to raw cocoa paste, table salt and seasoning salts These additives release gases that increase the volume of dough. Sodium carbonate is also used as a carrier and acidity regulator in baking powder, chocolate and cocoa products, sour cream butter and table water Since sodium chloride draws water out of food, it combats the growth of microorganisms like bacteria and yeasts that contribute to spoilage, and is therefore antimicrobial 31, According to a new US study, supplements with B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium may delay disease progression in the early stage of HIV in patients.

Topic of the Month Micronutrients as food additives. Coloring agents Foods with vivid colors — e. Other Some minerals and their derivatives that pose no risk to health are added to foods as preservatives or stabilizers, or as thickeners to increase viscosity and as emulsifiers or separating agents, to give the pro- ducts a longer shelf-life, keep them looking appetizing and reducing caking. Shahidi F. Food and Drug Administration.

Elliott J.

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Food Additive Status List. Calcium phosphate. Food Additive Details Calcium alginate Saltmarsh M.