Chemicals that are intentionally introduced into foods to aid in processing, to act as preservatives, or to improve the quality of the food are called intentional additives. Their use is strictly regulated by national and international laws. The National Academy of Sciences (1973) has listed the purposes of food additives as follows:
• to improve or maintain nutritional value
• to enhance quality
• to reduce wastage
• to enhance consumer acceptability
• to improve keeping quality
• to make the food more readily available
• to facilitate preparation of the food
The use of food additives is in effect a food processing method, because both have the same objective—to preserve the food and/or make it more attractive. In many food processing techniques, the use of additives is an integral part of the method, as is smoking, heating, and fermenting. The National Academy of Sciences (1973) has listed the following situations in which additives should not be used:
• to disguise faulty or inferior processes
• to conceal damage, spoilage, or other inferiority
• to deceive the consumer
• if use entails substantial reduction in important nutrients
• if the desired effect can be obtained by economical, good manufacturing practices
• in amounts greater than the minimum necessary to achieve the desired effects
There are several ways of classifying intentional food additives. One such method lists the following three main types of additives:
1. complex substances such as proteins or starches that are extracted from other foods (for example, the use of casein-ate in sausages and prepared meats)
2. naturally occurring, well-defined chemical compounds such as salt, phosphates, acetic acid, and ascorbic acid
3. substances produced by synthesis, which may or may not occur in nature, such as coal tar dyes, synthetic p-caro-tene, antioxidants, preservatives, and emulsifiers
Some of the more important groups of intentional food additives are described in the following sections.
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