Following are some reasons why ingredients are added to foods:
1. To Maintain or Improve Safety and Freshness: Preservatives slow product spoilage caused by mold, air, bacteria, fungi or yeast. In addition to maintaining the quality of the food, they help control contamination that can cause foodborne illness, including life-threatening botulism. One group of preservatives — antioxidants — prevents fats and oils and the foods containing them from becoming rancid or developing an off-flavor. They also prevent cut fresh fruits such as apples from turning brown when exposed to air.
2. To Improve or Maintain Nutritional Value: Vitamins and minerals (and fiber) are added to many foods to make up for those lacking in a person’s diet or lost in processing, or to enhance the nutritional quality of a food. Such fortification and enrichment have helped reduce malnutrition in the worldwide. All products containing added nutrients must be appropriately labeled.
3. Improve Taste, Texture, and Appearance: Spices, natural and artificial flavors, and sweeteners are added to enhance the taste of food. Food colors maintain or improve appearance. Emulsifiers, stabilizers, and thickeners give foods the texture and consistency consumers expect. Leavening agents allow baked goods to rise during baking. Some additives help control the acidity and alkalinity of foods, while other ingredients help maintain the taste and appeal of foods with reduced fat content.
Again it is important to divide the additional products into two categories:
Direct food additives are those that are added to a food for a specific purpose in that food. Most direct additives are identified on the ingredient label of foods.
Indirect food additives are those that become part of the food in trace amounts due to its packaging, storage or another handling. For instance, minute amounts of packaging substances find their way into foods during storage. A good sample is a plastic in the water of plastic water bottles sold worldwide.
Beside needed additives, for mentioned reasons, there are a lot of fun additives such as:
Color additives are used in foods for many reasons:
1) to offset color loss due to exposure to light, air, temperature extremes, moisture and storage conditions;
2) to correct natural variations in color;
3) to enhance colors that occur naturally; and
4) to provide color to colorless and “fun” foods.
Without color additives, cola wouldn’t be brown, margarine wouldn’t be yellow and mint ice cream wouldn’t be green. Color additives are now recognized as an important part of practically all processed foods to eat. Food additives have been a topic of public debate at many times all over the world. In general, it is possible to say that they are safe to use. There are rare cases of allergies and irritations
Food additives become important when they are used to fortify food. As defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) fortification refers to “the practice of deliberately increasing the content of an essential micronutrient, ie. vitamins and minerals (including trace elements) in a food irrespective of whether the nutrients were originally in the food before processing or not, to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and to provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health “, whereas enrichment is defined as ” synonymous with fortification and refers to the addition of micronutrients to a food which is lost during processing
This implies they are added for “health” reasons to make foods more attractive for the health conscious buyer. Suddenly the additive becomes a fortification. This interferes in supplementation habits. Using fortified foods and supplements lead to overdoses of certain ingredients. Before combining it is important to make doses calculation. Make sure to know what is added to the fortified food products.