- Food additives are substances added to food to preserve it or improve its flavour and appearance.
- Some of the commonly used food additives include preservative, colourants, stabilizers and flavouring.
- The chart below summarise the 4 groups of food additive
Effects of Food Addictive on Health
Food additive have the following effect on health.
– MSG causes chinese restaurant syndrome
– Sodium nitrate/ sodium nitrite causes blue baby syndrome
- Brain Damage
Food additive can disrupt the supply of oxygen to brain and hence cause damage to the brain.
colouant such as tartazine can cause hyperactivity
- Food preservatives are classified into two main groups: antioxidants and antimicrobials
- Antioxidants are compounds that delay or prevent the deterioration of foods by oxidative mechanisms.
- Examples of antioxidants are ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and citric acid.
- Antimicrobial agents inhibit the growth of microorganisms in food.
- Examples of antimicrobials are acetic acid (vinegar), sulphur dioxide, sodium sulphite, benzoic acid, sodium benzoate, sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate.
- Table below shows the uses of a few types of preservative that common used in our daily life.
|Sulphur dioxide, Sodium sulphite||Prevent browning of fruit juice|
Keep the colour of vegetables
|Benzoic acid, Sodium benzoate||Preserve sauces. Example, tomato and chilli sauce.|
|Sodium nitrite, Sodium nitrate||Preserve meat, canned food and cheese.|
Make the food look fresh.
Advantage and Disadvantage of Food Additives
- Can prevent the growth of microorganisms and hence keep food for a longer time.
- Improve nutritional in food
- For medical purposes. For example, artificial sweetener diabetes patient.
- taking with excess quantities can cause health problem.
- has low nutritional value.
- Most natural colorants are extracts derived from plant tissues.
- The disadvantage of using natural colourants are
- colour intensities not consistent,
- not stable (colour may change when exposed to light and heat,)
- may react with food.
- may have unwanted flavours and odours.
- Supply can be instable
Synthetic Colorants (Dye)
- Most of the synthetic colourants are complex chemical compounds sthat synthesized from petroleum.
- Examples of syhthetic colourants are azo compound and triphenyl.
- Azo compound colourants normally are yellow, red, brown and white in colour.
- Triphenyl compound colourants are green, blue or purple in colour.
Many of the artificial food colorings cause reactions in sensitive individuals ranging from hyperactivity to depression to asthma-like symptoms.
- A stabilizer is a substance to prevent or to slow down some unwanted physical changes of food.
- Most stabilizing and thickening agents are polysaccharides, such as starches or gums, or proteins, such as gelatin.
- The primary function of these compounds is to act as thickening or gelling agents that increase the viscosity of the final product.
- These agents stabilize emulsions, either by adsorbing to the outer surface of oil droplets or by increasing the viscosity of the water phase.
- Thus, they prevent the coalescence of the oil droplets, promoting the separation of the oil phase from the aqueous phase.
Flavouring Agent and Sweeteners
- Natural flavourings are derived or extracted from plants, spices, herbs, animals, or microbial fermentations.
- Artificial flavourings are mixtures of synthetic compounds that may be chemically identical to natural flavourings.
- Artificial flavourings are often used in food products because of the high cost, lack of availability, or insufficient potency of natural flavourings.
- Example of commonly used flavouring is esther, which will give fruity smell to food.
- Flavour enhancers are compounds that are added to a food to supplement or enhance its own natural flavour.
- Examples of flavour enhancers are monosodium glutamate (MSG).
- Monosodium glutamate is found in tomatoes, potatoes, mushrooms, and other vegetables and fruits
- A sweetener is a food additive which adds the basic taste of sweetness to a food.
- Sucrose or table sugar is the standard on which the relative sweetness of all other sweeteners is based.
- In addition to saccharin, the most commonly used nonnutritive sweeteners are cyclamates, aspartame, and acesulfame K.