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food additive

Functional substance that is normally neither consumed as a food itself nor is used as a food ingredient, but is intentionally added to food (usually in small quantities) to assist in its processing or to improve its certain characteristics such as aroma, color, consistency, taste, texture, packaging, and/or shelf life. Additives are not considered nutritional even if they have some nutritive value.

A food additive is any chemical substance that is added to food during preparation or storage and either becomes a part of the food or affects its characteristics for the purpose of achieving a particular technical effect. For example, substances that are used to enhance the appearance, texture, or keeping qualities of a food or serve as essential aids in the processing of food are all considered to be food additives. food preservatives Substances capable of inhibiting, retarding or arresting the process of fermentation, acidification or other deterioration of foods. A preservative is a natural or synthetic chemical that is added to products such as foods, pharmaceuticals, paints, biological samples, etc. to retard spoilage, whether from microbial growth, or undesirable chemical changes. Any of numerous chemical additives used to prevent or slow food spoilage caused by chemical changes (e.g., oxidation, mold growth) and maintain a fresh appearance and consistency. Antimycotics (e.g., sodium and calcium propionate, sorbic acid) inhibit mold growth; antioxidants (e.g., butylated hydroxytoluene or BHT) delay rancidity in foods containing fats and oils; antibiotics (e.g., tetracyclines) prevent bacterial growth; humectants retain moisture in products like shredded coconut; and antistaling agents (e.g., glyceryl monostearate) maintain moisture and softness in baked goods. Some preservatives also improve the appearance of the product (e.g., sodium nitrate and nitrite in meats). Substances added to food and drink to retard spoilage. Some preservatives (such as nitrates and sulphites) inhibit the growth of moulds and bacteria, while others (such as ascorbic acid, BHA, and BHT) stop fats from going rancid too quickly. Due to public concern about the safety of some of the artificial preservatives (e.g. BHT), there is a trend among manufacturers to replace these synthetic preservatives with natural ones (e.g. vitamin E).

Definition of Food coloring

artificial colors that are added to certain manufactured food items
a digestible substance used to give color to food; "food color made from vegetable dyes"

Spices are strongly flavored or aromatic parts of plants used in small quantities in food as a preservative, or flavouring in cooking. Spices are distinguished from other plant products used for similar purposes, such as herbs (which are green, leafy parts of plants), aromatic vegetables, and dried fruit. Spices were some of the most valuable items of trade in the ancient and medieval world. Many spices were formerly used in medicine, though this use has decreased somewhat in later years. Spices were rumoured to be the reason why Portugese navigator Vasco Da Gama reached India, which eventually led to the British Imperialist rule for more than four centuries. Phytochemical: The active health-protecting compounds that are found as components of plants. Currently, the terms "phytochemical" and "phytonutrient" are being used interchangeably to describe those plant compounds which are thought to have health-protecting qualities. The antioxidant, immune boosting and other health promoting properties of active compounds in plants are being investigated. Phytonutrients or phytochemicals that are being studied presently include (and are not limited to) terpenes, carotenoids, limonoids, and phytosterols. Chemicals naturally found in fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes that may have a positive impact on your health. Some of the best known phytochemicals are carotenoids, such as beta carotene, lutein, lycopene and zeaxanthin. Flavonoids are another classification of phytochemical, and include compounds such as quercetin, anthocyanins and hesperidin. Other phytochemicals include limonene, indole, ellagic acid, allium and sulphoraphane.

By Shereen Jegtvig, Guide Updated November 07, 2007 Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by our Medical Review Board

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terms used in nutrition antioxidants

Definition: May protect the cells in your body from oxidative damage. As the body uses oxygen, there are by-products known as "free radicals" that can cause damage to cells. Antioxidants are known to repair these free radicals and are associated with a decreased risk of many chronic diseases. Some examples of antioxidants include beta-carotene, vitamins A, C, and E, lutein, lycopene and quercetin.

All food products except for the one growing in your kitchen garden has food preservatives in them. Every manufacturer adds food preservative to the food during processing. The purpose is generally to avoid spoilage during the transportation time. Food is so important for the survival, so food preservation is one of the oldest technologies used by human beings to avoid its spoilage. Different ways and means have been found and improved for the purpose. Boiling, freezing & refrigeration, pasteurizing, dehydrating, pickling are the traditional few. Sugar, mineral salt and salt are also often used as preservatives food. Nuclear radiation is also being used now as food preservatives. Modified packaging techniques like vacuum packing and hypobaric packing also work as food preservatives. Food Preservation is basically done for three reasons
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To preserve the natural characteristics of food To preserve the appearance of food To increase the shelf value of food for storage.

Natural Food Preservatives

In the category of natural food preservatives comes the salt, sugar, alcohol, vinegar etc. These are the traditional preservatives in food that are also used at home while making pickles, jams and juices etc. Also the freezing, boiling, smoking, salting are considered to be the natural ways of preserving food. Coffee powder and soup are dehydrated and freeze-dried for preservation. In this section the citrus food preservatives like citrus acid and ascorbic acid work on enzymes and disrupt their metabolism leading to the preservation. Sugar and salt are the earliest natural food preservatives that very efficiently drops the growth of bacteria in food. To preserve meat and fish, salt is still used as a natural food preservative.

Chemical Food Preservative

Chemical food preservatives are also being used for quite some time now. They seem to be the best and the most effective for a longer shelf life and are generally fool proof for the preservation purpose. Examples of chemical food preservatives are:
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Benzoates (such as sodium benzoate, benzoic acid) Nitrites (such as sodium nitrite) Sulphites (such as sulphur dioxide) Sorbates (such as sodium sorbate, potassium sorbate

Antioxidants are also the chemical food preservatives that act as free radical scavengers. In this category of preservatives in food comes the vitamin C, BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), bacterial growth inhibitors like sodium nitrite, sulfur dioxide and benzoic acid. Then there is ethanol that is a one of the chemical preservatives in food, wine and food stored in brandy. Unlike natural food preservatives some of the chemical food preservatives are harmful. Sulfur dioxide and nitrites are the examples. Sulfur dioxide causes irritation in bronchial tubes and nitrites are carcinogenic.

Artificial Preservatives
Artificial preservatives are the chemical substances that stops of delayed the growth of bacteria, spoilage and its discoloration. These artificial preservatives can be added to the food or sprayed on the food. Types of Artificial Preservatives Food
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Antimicrobial agents Antioxidants Chelating agent

In antimicrobial comes the Benzoates, Sodium benzoate, Sorbates and Nitrites. Antioxidants include the Sulfites, Vitamin E, Vitamin C and Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) Chelating agent has the Disodium ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), Polyphosphates and Citric acid

Harmful Food Preservatives

Although preservatives food additives are used to keep the food fresh and to stop the bacterial growth. But still there are certain preservatives in food that are harmful if taken in more than the prescribed limits. Certain harmful food preservatives are Benzoates This group of chemical food preservative has been banned in Russia because of its role in triggering allergies, asthma and skin rashes. It is also considered to cause the brain damage. This food preservative is used in fruit juices, tea, coffee etc. Butylates This chemical food preservative is expected to cause high blood pressure and cholestrol level. This can affect the kidney and live function. It is found in butter, vegetable oils and margarine.

BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) BHA is expected to cause the live diseases and cancer. This food preservative is used to preserve the fresh pork and pork sausages, potato chips, instant teas, cake mixes and many more. Caramel Caramel is the coloring agent that causes the vitamin B6 deficiencies, genetic effects and cancer. It is found in candies, bread, brown colored food and frozen pizza. In addition to this there are many other harmful food preservatives. These are Bromates, Caffeine, Carrageenan, Chlorines, Coal Tar AZO Dies, Gallates, Glutamates, Mono- and Di-glycerides, Nitrates/Nitrites, Saccharin, Sodium Erythrobate,Sulphites and Tannin

Preservatives Food Additives

All of these chemicals act as either antimicrobials or antioxidants or both. They either inhibit the activity of or kill the bacteria, molds, insects and other microorganisms. Antimicrobials, prevent the growth of molds, yeasts and bacteria and antioxidants keep foods from becoming rancid or developing black spots. They suppress the reaction when foods comes in contact with oxygen, heat, and some metals. They also prevent the loss of some essential amino acids some vitamins.