Additives     Page 1                                     Main Page                                       Home

Using additives to make foods safer and to improve the quality of food is something we have been doing for centuries.
We would have a more limited choice of foods, if it were not for additives, and some products would simply not exist
without the addition of certain additives such as emulsifiers and stabilisers.
Additives serve a range of purposes from the colouring of food to regulating it's acidity. Some even perform more than
one function, such as vitamin C which is used to prevent the discolouration of tinned fruit and fruit juices, as well as to
lower the pH of food which can increase a food's shelf life.

The function of additives can be summarised as follows with details provided in the table below:
( Second part of table  on this page)
*extending the shelf life of food - preservatives slow down the deterioration of food, thereby increasing a product's
shelf  life. Salt, vinegar, alcohol and spices extend the shelf life of food with their anti-microbial action, but manufacturers
also rely on other preservatives such as benzoates, nitrates and sulphur dioxide to perform a similar function.

*preventing the oxidation of food
as soon as fruits and fruit juices, or natural fats and oils are exposed to air, they react with it's oxygen. Many fruits turn
brown and fats become rancid. Ascorbic acid ( vitamin C), a natural anti-oxidant is used to stop fruit from losing it's colour,
and similarly tocopherols ( vitamin E) can prevent fats and oils oxidising.

*replacing lost colours in food
colourants are added to a food to make it look better and more appetising, or to replace the colours lost in the processing
of foods.

*enhancing the flavour in food
flavourants make flavours taste stronger and are used more often in savoury foods.

*they can facilitate the mixing of oil and water in some products
emulsifiers are used to help water and oil mix together. They are needed to make foods like mayonnaise, margarine and low-
fat spreads.

There is some evidence that certain additives can trigger allergic reactions in susceptible people, but additives are often
viewed as harmful chemicals added to food without good reason.. Experts place additives low down on the list of food
hazards, and so far only one person in about 1800 is shown to have an adverse reaction to synthetic additives.
The best advice for such allergy prone individuals is to plan their diet around fresh whole foods, and thereby avoid the intake
of additives found in some processed foods.

Additive
Source
Functions
ACIDS
Naturally found as vinegar ( acetic acid); in
fruits ( citric acid), in dairy products ( lactic
acid); in fats ( propionic acid) but also
chemically synthesized
Flavourant ( picles, sports drinks)
Anti-microbial action against yeasts and bacteria
( marinades)
Anti-oxidant properties ( jams, sauces)
Acidity regulator ( bread, olives)
Enhances water holding capacity ( ice cream)
ANTI-OXIDANTS
Naturally found in citrus fruits ( vitamin C); in
seeds and nuts ( vitamin E) but also chemically synthesized ( BHA, BHT, TBHQ)
Colour preservation ( canned fruit)
Can enhance nutritional value of food ( vitamin C, E)
Flour improver ( breads)
Inhibits enzymatic spoilage and oxidative rancidity of
foods ( margarine)
BENZOATE AND
ITS SALTS OR
ACIDS
Naturally found in berries, especially cran-
berries and cloves but also chemically
synthesized
Anti-microbial action in acid foods against yeasts and
moulds ( pickles, carbonated soft drinks)
CARBONATE AND
ITS SALTS OR
ACIDS
Naturally found widely in nature but also
chemically synthesized
Raising agent ( baking power)
Flavour enhancer ( cocoa power)
Anti-caking agent ( salt, icing sugar)
CITRATE AND ITS
SALTS OR ACIDS
Naturally found in citrus fruits but also
chemically synthesized
Acidity regulator ( canned fruit)
Flavourant ( carbonated soft drinks)
Ant-oxidant ( fruit and vegetables)
COLOURANTS
Naturally found mostly in plants ( turmeric,
saffron, paprika, beetroot, caramel, annato,
carotenes), but also chemically synthesized
( tartrazine)
Colouring of food without a specific colour ( cheese,
sauces)
Add colour back to foods which have lost colour during
processing ( canned peas, jams)
Enhances attractiveness of foods for visual decoration
( confectionery)
GELATINE
Produced form the chemical treatment of
animal skin, bones and tendons
Gelling agent ( jellies, gum sweets, mousses)
Thickener or stabiliser ( yoghurt, desserts)
GUMS
Naturally found in plants but also chemically
synthesized
Plants: Xanthan
Seaweed: Alginates
Seeds: Guar
Thickener 9 squashes, jams, soups)
Gelling agent ( instant puddings, sweets)
Emulsifier and stabiliser ( salad dressings, confectio-
nery)
Whipping agent ( mousses, ice cream)
Coating agent ( confectionery)
HVP ( Hydrolysed
Vegetable Protein)
Produced from the chemical treatment of
wheat and/or soya
Flavour enhancer ( soups, sauces, prepared meals,
gravies)
LECITHIN
Naturally found in eggs and soya beans, but
also chemically synthesized
Emulsifier and stabiliser ( margarine)
Viscosity Regulator ( chocolate)
Flour improver ( bread products)
MSG
Naturally found in many foods including
tomatoes, mushrooms, and human breast
milk, but also chemically synthesized
Flavour enhancer ( soups, sauces, prepared meals,
sausages)
Nitrate/Nitrite
and their salts or
acids
Naturally found in cabbage, cauliflower,
carrots, spinach, human saliva but also
chemically synthesized
Colour preservation in cured and processed meats
( ham, bacon)
Anti-microbial action against bacteria ( pickled fish,
cheeese)  
Second part of table on this page