Food additives are substances that chefs, consumers, and food manufacturer adds to a food. Some additives increase a food's nutritional value. Others improve the color, flavor, or texture of foods. Stills others keep foods from spoiling. Common food additives include baking soda, added to dough to make it rise, and iodine, put into salt to prevent goiter.
Some food additives come from other foods. In addition, scientists can create food additives in the laboratory. Some people consider food additives dangerous to their health. But many of these substances occur naturally in foods that people have eaten for centuries.
There are hundreds of food additives. They can be classified into six major groups: (1) nutritional supplements; (2) flavoring agents; (3) coloring agents; (4) preservatives; (5) emulsifiers, stabilizers, and thickeners; and (6) acids and alkalis.
Nutritional supplements, such as iron, minerals, and vitamins, make foods more nourishing. Supplements such as vitamins B-1 and B-2 are added to flour.
These additives improve the nutritional value of bread and other products made from flour. Milk with vitamin D added helps prevent rickets, a bone disease.
Flavoring agents include all spices and natural fruit flavors, as well as such artificial flavors as the vanilla used in some ice creams.
Sweeteners add sweetness to foods. Natural sweeteners include sucrose, fructose, and glucose. Aspartame and saccharin are two commonly used artificial sweeteners. Some flavoring agents, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), also enhance a food's natural flavor.
Coloring agents help make foods look appealing. For example, margarine manufacturers add yellow coloring to make their product look like butter. Some coloring agents, such as the orange color added to the skins of oranges, improve the appearance of a food. In the home, coloring may be used in cookies and other confections.
Emulsifiers, stabilizers, and thickeners help the ingredients in...