FOOD ADDITIVES IN PRE PACKAGED FOOD
As with my previous posts, I am again looking at packaging, labelling and content of pre prepared food. This post is about some of the various things added to food.
Additives are substances added by food manufacturers to improve the appearance, flavour, texture, stability or storage life of food.
On a label they have to state what the additive is and either its name or number, eg: Food Acid (Citric Acid) or Food Acid (330).
Food Acid (may be called Acidity Regulators) help maintain a constant acid level in food.
Emulsifiers ensure that oil and water mixtures do not separate into layers – eg salad dressings.
Humectants prevent foods from drying out.
Thickeners/Gums thicken foods or give a smooth texture.
Preservatives help keep food from getting mouldy and slow the growth of yeast and bacteria.
Antioxidants prevent oxidation in food causing the food to go rancid and change color.
Anti Caking Agents help sachets flow freely.
Prepackaged food can also contain colors which are categorised into three groups, Natural colors from plants or animals, synthetic colors that are chemically identical to natural colors and synthetic colors which are not found in nature.
These will be shown on the package as Color followed by either the name or number, eg: Color (Carotene) or Color (160a).
Obviously cooking from scratch is always better as you know exactly what you are putting in your food. However, sometimes this is just not possible, so make sure you read the ingredients label and know what you are going to eat. Try and buy the closest to natural ingredients as you can.
The packaging is very interesting to read – a packet of popcorn and a packet of Doritos. The plain variety of both have just three ingredients, corn/popcorn, oil and salt. Compare this to the Cheese flavoured variety of both – and you can see how many extra ingredients are added. Keep this in mind when buying these snack type foods, the plainer they are the less additives they will have.