The Food Additives That Are In Your Meals
There are several categories of food additives:
Colouring – food manufacturers often add food colouring to improve or restore colour to processed food. This helps to enhance the visual appeal of the food and to make it appear richer in colour.
Examples include tartrazine (E102), indigotine (E132), or allura red (E129).
Preservatives – in order to lengthen the shelf life of processed foods, manufacturers often use some form of preservative to help limit or minimise the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast or mould that may cause the food to spoil or cause food poisoning.
Examples include sodium nitrite (E250), sodium nitrate (E251), sodium lactate (E325), sorbic acid (E200), sodium benzoate (E211), potassium benzoate (E212), or calcium sulphite (E226).
Antioxidants – help prevent foods from oxidisation as it will result in the food becoming rancid or discoloured. These additives can usually be found in baked goods, cereals, fats, oils and salad dressings.
Examples include ascorbic acid (E300), butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA, or E320), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT, or E321), or propyl gallate (E310).
Taste/texture modifiers – these additives help improve the taste or texture of food, e.g. artificial sweeteners used in low-calorie products, emulsifiers and stabilisers used in margarine/mayonnaise, flavour enhancers such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) that help enhance the flavour of food, etc.
Examples include carrageenan (E407), calcium alginate (E404), or xanthan gum (E415).
Nutrient supplement – these are added to help improve the nutrient content of the food. Examples include vitamins A & D, iron, riboflavin and folic acid.
Many food manufacturers list food additives using their E numbers rather than by name.
These additives may be added anytime during the process of producing, processing, treating, packaging, transporting or storing of the food.
However, it is a requirement that directly added food additives are listed on the ingredients label.