Food Additives – Always Read Your Labels

Ever read a label and think “what the heck is that?” me too! I decided to make up a list of some common food additives and how they are used in our foods today. Pretty scary gunk!

Acacia (Arabic gum): A natural gum thickening agent used to inhibit sugar crystallization in candies and confections. Other uses, sodas and breweries as a stabilizer of foam. 
Acetic acid (vinegar): Adds and acidic taste to foods,  used as a preservative in pickled foods, fruits, and vegetables.
Adipic acid: Used to prevent spoilage, used in dairy products, meat products, oils products, margarines, condiments, snack foods, soft drinks, gelatin products, add a tart flavour to baked goods.
Agar: A thickening agent derived from seaweed.
Albumin: An emulsifying agent derived from egg whites.
Alcohol (ethanol): A solvent found in most flavouring extracts.
Alginates: A stabilizing agent used to retain water in most beverages, ice creams, candies, and salad dressings, it is derived from seaweed.
Artificial colours: “Accepted” colours for food use are Blue No. 1, Blue No. 2, Yellow No. 5, Yellow No. 6, Red No. 3, and Red No. 40.
Artificial flavours: Typically an organic compound added to enhance flavour. 
Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C): A preserving agent and antioxidant found in fruits, jellies, preserves, processed meat products, and dairy products. Prevents discolouration.
Aspartame (NutraSweet): An artificial sweetener. Aspartame is 160 times as sweet as normal table sugar (sucrose).
Beeswax: Used in candies and most confections.
Benzoic acid: A preserving agent.
Beta carotene (Vitamin A): Used to colour or enhance the colour yellow
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole): A preserving agent and antioxidant.
BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene): A preserving agent and antioxidant.
Caffeine: Found in teas, coffee, soft drinks, energy drinks, supplements used as flavour or for energy boosting.
Calcium carbonate: Controls the acidity in foods and is used as a white food colouring agent.
Calcium citrate: Controls the acidity in foods, is used as a buffer.
Calcium disodium EDTA: A preserving agent and an impound, used in soft drinks and canned foods to control crystal formations, colour and flavour loss. 
Calcium phosphate: A mineral supplement that prevents metallic flavours from leeching into foods. 
Calcium propionate: A preserving agent, prolongs the shelf-life of foods by preventing  mold.
Calcium silicate: A compound used to prevent caking.
Calcium sulfate: Helps to control the pH of foods, and conditions dough.
Caramel color: Found in soft drinks, beers, and some ice creams, candies, confections, used as a colouring agent.
Carbon black: Used as black coloring in confections.
Carnauba wax: Found in the glaze of candies.
Carrageenan: Used as an emulsifying  and stabilizing agent.
Casein: Adds texture to most dairy products, is found in ice cream, cottage cheeses, yogurts, and protein supplements. It is a protein derived from the milk of the cow.  Cellulose gum: a thickener.
Citric acid: A preserving agent, adjusts acid in fruit juices and products. Enhances the sour flavour of candies: acts as a  thickener in cornstarch.
Corn syrup (dextrose): A sweetener.
Cyclamates (sodium and potassium cyclamate): An artificial sweetener.
Dextrin: Derived from starch used as a foam stabilizer in beers and controls crystallizing in candy. 
Dextrose: A sweetener. Has a sweetness rating of 74 compared to sucrose at 100.
Disodium phosphate: Used to control the acidity in evaporated milk and pasta products.
EDTA (ethylenediammine tetraacetic acid, disodium salt):  A preserving agent.
FD&C colors: Food colors regulated by the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
FD&C flakes: Color pigments prepared by combining FD&C colors with aluminum or calcium which make the colors insoluble. Used in confections, candies, and foods which could be affected by water.
Ferric chloride (iron(III) chloride): A nutrient which is  a good source of iron. 
Ferric citrate (iron(III) citrate): A nutrient which is  a source of iron. 
Ferric phosphate(iron(III) phosphate): A nutrient which is  a source of iron. 
Folic acid (vitamin B3): A nutrient, aids in red blood cell formation.
Fructose: A sweetener derived from the sugars of fruit. Sweetness rating of 173 compared to sucrose at 100.
Fumaric acid: Commonly found in gelatin, a dry acid.
Gelatin: A protein thickener and stabilizer obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, or bones in water.
Gellan gum: A stabilizing agent.
Glucose: sweetener. Sweetness rating of 74 compared to sucrose at 100.
Glycerin (glycerol): Used as a humectant in jellies, gelatin desserts, beverages, and chewing gum. Sweetness rating of 60 compared to sucrose at 100.
Glyceryl monostearate: An emulsifying agent commonly used in margarine, shortenings as well as other food products.
Guar gum: A stabilizer used in frozen fruit, ice cream, icings, glazes, and fruit drinks. Also used as a thickener for hot and cold drinks, and salad dressings.
Gum tragacanth: A thickener and stabilizer for fruit jelly, sherbets, salad dressing, confections, and candy.
High fructose corn syrup: A sweetener. Corn syrup treated with enzymes to make it sweeter.
Hydrogenated oil: Oil that has been partially converted from naturally polyunsaturated to saturated. Used to solidify liquid oils. 
Invert sugar: A mixture of 50% glucose and 50% fructose. Sweetness rating of 130 compared to sucrose at 100.
Iodine: A nutrient usually added to foods and salt. Essential for thyroid hormones.
Iron: A mineral nutrient. May be used as powdered iron or an iron salt.
Kaolin: A clay used to prevent caking in foods.clay.
Lactic acid: A preserving agent added to enhance taste  in many foods including cheese products, butter, fruit jelly, and breads.
Lactose: A nutrient that is a milk sugar and a sweetener . Sweetness rating of 16 compared to sucrose at 100.
Lecithin: An emulsifying agent.
Magnesium carbonate: pH balancing agent for sour cream, butter, ice cream, cacao products, and canned peas.
Magnesium phosphate: A good source of magnesium.
Magnesium sulfate: nutrient. Source of magnesium.
Magnesium silicate: An anticaking agent.
Malic acid: Used to give a strong sour taste in candies, frozen dairy products, fruits, jellies and jams.
Maltodextrin: A sugar obtained by hydrolysis of starch. Stabilizer and flavor enhancer in candies and chocolate.
Maltose: A malt sugar, a nutrient, sweetener, and stabilizer. Sweetness rating of 32 compared to sucrose at 100.
Mannitol: A sweetener derived from seaweed it is used as an agent to prevent sticking in food products. 
Mono- and diglygerides: Fats and oils used as emulsifiers.
Monosodium glutamate, MSG: flavor enhancer.
Monopotassium phosphate: An emulsifying agent and a pH buffer.
Niacin: A nutrient of the vitamin B complex.
Oleic acid: A synthetic butter and cheese flavoring and in various foods.
Olestra Sucrose: A fat substitute that has no calories and cannot be digested by the body.
Partially hydrogenated oils: Oils that have been partially converted from naturally polyunsaturated to saturated. Makes liquid oils partially solidified for improved baking.
Pectin: A stabilizing agent, thickener agent for artificially sweetened beverages, syrups, ice cream products, fruit sherbets, fruit jellies and jams.
Phosphoric acid: Adds flavour to soft drinks, jellies, and frozen dairy products.
Polysorbate 60: An emulsifying agent which is waxy when solid.
Polysorbate 80: An emulsifying agent and humectant which is a thick oil.
Potassium acid tartrate:  Acid constituent used in some baking powders
Potassium bromate: Used in breads as an improving agent.
Potassium chloride: A substitute for salt and a source of potassium.
Potassium citrate: A buffering agent to control pH.
Potassium nitrate: A preserving agent. Used for color retention in cured meats.
Potassium nitrite: A preserving agent. Used for color retention in cured meats.
Potassium sorbate: Preserving agent and a mold and yeast inhibitor.
Propionic acid: A preserving agent used in butters and fruit flavourings.
Propyl gallate: An antioxidant for fats and oils.
Saccharin: An artificial sweetener. 500 times sweeter than sucrose.
Silicates: Anti-caking agents.
Sodium benzoate: A preserving agent used  in margarine, soft drinks, and fruit products.
Sodium caseinate: An emulsify and stabilizing agent found in frozen desserts.
Sodium citrate: A buffering and emulsifying agent used  to control pH.
Sodium nitrate: A preserving agent, used for color retention in cured meats.
Sodium nitrite: A preserving agent, used for color retention in cured meats.
Sodium phosphate: Prevents metallic flavours in foods.
Sodium polyphosphate: Prevents metallic flavours in foods.
Sodium proprionate: A  preserving agent to prevent mould and fungus growth.
Sodium sulfite: A  preserving agent used to preserve colour in dried fruit.
Sodium tripolyphosphate: A texturizer.
Sodium stearoyl-2-lactate: Used to strength the dough of breads.
Sorbitol: A sweeting agent and a sugar substitute for diabetics. Thickener and prevents picking up moisture in candies, shredded coconut, and dietetic fruits and soft drinks.
Sucrose: Table sugar and cane sugar.
Sulfur dioxide: A preserving agent used to preserve the colour in dried fruits.
Xanthan gum: An emulsify and stabilizing agent for water based foods such as dairy products and salad dressings.
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Categories: Nutriton

Author:The Holistic Dish

A passionate foodie with a background in Natural Nutrition, Holistic Wellness and Professional Training at the Natural Gourmet Institute. Creating healthy and holistic recipes for friends and loved ones of the Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian and Gluten Free fare.

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