Food Additives and Food Labels
The main types of food additives are
· flavour enhancers
Antioxidants stop food from reacting with oxygen and turning bad.
An antioxidant is used to prevent apples from turning brown. It is also called ascorbic acid (its common name is vitamin C). Every chemical additive that is used a lot in food has a reference number. Vitamin C's number is E300.
The label on a packet of food lists what is in the food.
A tin of baked beens has bean, tomatoes, water, sugar, cornflour, salt, vinegar, spices and herbs. Look at label on a baked beans tin to see how much energy one average serving gives. the label also states how much fibre is in a 100g serving.
Why are food additives used?
Food additives are added to preserve food so it can be distributed around the country or to other countries without spoiling.
Spoiling happens when a food reacts with oxygen, bacteria or mould.
Additives are also added to give a different sensory experience. They are used to enhance the colour or flavour of food.
Information about food additives are given on food packet labels.
Ingredients on packaging are listed in descending order of mass.
Some ingredients, such as flavour enhancer E621, are given numbers instead of their chemical name. This is because they are used so often in food that they have had to be tested for toxicity. Some, such as tartrazine, may cause problems in some people but others, such as E500 (baking powder), have been used safely for years.
Antioxidants stop food from reacting with oxygen. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is used in tinned fruit and wine as an antioxidant.
Intelligent packaging is another method used to stop food spoiling.
· Active packaging: actively changes the condition of packaged food to extend its life while maintaining the quality of the products.
· Intelligent packaging: monitors the condition of the packaged food and gives information on the quality of the packaged food using sensors and indicators
European governments are working towards a goal that 60 per cent of packaging waste is recovered and between 55 and 80 per cent is recycled.
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