Food additives, what are they and how they are classified. Definition and information on the main food additives we take every day.
Food additives, definition
What are food additives? As reported by the US Food & Nutrition Board, these are defined as: any mixture of substances or substances other than basic foods, which is found within a food ready for consumption following the treatments associated with its processing, storage, production and packaging.
Food additives: voluntary and involuntary
This definition it makes no difference between voluntary and involuntary food additives. The voluntary additives, are those that the company uses specifically and voluntarily to preserve or improve the food product intended for trade.
The unintentional additives, instead they are of various sizes and can derive from technological and agro-zootechnical treatments of basic foods. The latter can be defined as a foreign substance within the product.
Given the lack of precision and distinction of the various food additives provided by Food & Nutrition Board, we can define as more suitable, the one studied and proposed by Des Industries Agricoles International Commission, made known on the occasion of the Como Symposium. ThereDes Industries Agricoles International Commissionproposes one definition different:
"With the name of added chemicals, it is necessary to know that all the substances that are not a constituent part of the food, but which are used in the production process in order to improve it: the taste, shelf life, appearance, consistency and odor, must be considered as impurities. These impurities are derived from the application of various food manufacturing processes. "
How are additives defined? The Italian legislation
According to Italian legislation which governs the use of these in food, are considered chemical additives: all substances that have no nutritional purpose and that are added during the food processing phase in order to preserve its physical or physical chemical characteristics, and to prevent its spontaneous alteration.
These additives are considered by Italian law as voluntary and are governed by Ministerial Decree 31.3 of 1965. Thanks to this legislation, companies operating in Italy and within the European Community must absolutely check the positive lists made available.
All the voluntary additives that can be used and what are the permitted doses of use are indicated in the positive lists.
The Italian legislation on food additives is aligned with the various directives of the European Economic Community.
What are food additives and how are they classified?
The food additives can be grouped according to the function they perform within the food in which they are contained.
The compounds that are used to counteract the microbial alterations, namely antiseptics, anti-fermentative preservatives and fungistatic agents. These are: sorbic acid and its salts, benzoic acid, esters of p-oxybenzoic acid, sulphites and sulfur dioxide, o-phenylenol, thiabendazole, diphenyl, formic acid, formic aldehyde, nitrites and nitrates, food acids, carbon dioxide, lactic acid , antibiotics. All compounds in this category cannot be used freely, but there are specific laws governing their use.
Some of the food additives used by companies also include compounds against browning and rancidity of fats. Those included within this category are: acid L-ascorbic, tocophenols, alkyl gallates, lecithin, butyloxytoluene, TBHQ (only permitted in the USA). The secondary antioxidants present in this category are synergists such as: lactic acid, citric acid and alkaline salts, phosphoric acid, alkaline salts of phosphoric acid, citric ester of glycerides and mono.
In the differentiated list provided by the European community, there are additive compounds against alterations of a physical nature and for the control of product quality.
These include gelling agents, thickeners and stabilizers, such as: Alginic acid and salts, propylene glycol alginate, carob seed flours, gum arabic, tragacanth, tara, modified starches, agar, furcellaran, fruit pectins, polyphosphates and phosphates.
The food emulsifiers: lecithins, salts of fatty acids, minor emulsifiers, clouding agents.
The additives with various action such as: acidity regulators, flavor enhancers, glazing agent, tartaric acidifier, acetic, lactic acid, anti-caking agents, leavening powders, defoamers, melting salts, flour treatment agent.
Various additives such as: iron gluconate, metatartaric acid, sodium and potassium, calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, slaked and hydrated lime, borax.
The dyes, they are also additives that can be divided into: natural, synthetic, caramel.
The aromas and flavor enhancers they are instead: natural, artificial or natural identical.
Some additives that are added to foods are not used for the purpose of improving their color or to extend the shelf life. These are instead used as real nutrients in addition to the natural ones contained in the food.
The allowed nutrients are: amino acids, vitamins, mineral salts.
Food additives: sweeteners or sweeteners
The sweeteners or sweeteners, instead they serve to replace the presence of refined sugar. The main ones used are: sugars such as fructose or sorbitol, and nourishing sweeteners that can be divided into natural or synthetic.
These are the main ones natural and chemical additives, contained within food products. According to European and Italian legislation on the use of voluntary additives, these must always be reported in the list of ingredients on the back of the product.