Making life taste better

Additives

Food colours

Many natural food colours degrade over time or when they are heated. This is one of the main reasons why colour ingredients are needed.

The colour of our food is an intrinsic part of its appeal. Colours contribute to the taste sensation, whether they are the bright colours we associate with many fruit and vegetables, or the lurid reds and yellows common in Indian dishes. Grey colours give the impression that a food will

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Sweeteners

If it weren’t for artificial intense sweeteners, the only way to satisfy a sweet tooth would be with natural sugars such as sucrose, fructose and maltose, which are full of calories and contribute to tooth decay.

The modern desire to eat sweet foods that don’t make you fat has led to the development of a variety of low calorie intense sweeteners that are much sweeter than sucrose, and only need to be used in tiny amounts to satisfy the taste buds. They aren’t a modern invention

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Preservatives in food

Preservatives work by killing the micro organism or preventing it from growing

Humans have always found ways to preserve their food to stop it spoiling before it can be eaten. Many of the bacteria and moulds that grow on food can be dangerous. Salmonella, listeria and botulism are familiar forms of food poisoning caused by bacteria, and one of the most infamous

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Gelling agents, thickeners & stabilisers

The texture of food is important for the look and feel of food, and also for digestion. Thickening and stabilising agents are gums that work with emulsifiers to maintain the texture of food, and create texture in water-based products that would otherwise be runny. Ingredients such as flour, cornflour and

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Flavourings

Coffee has more than 800 different aromachemicals.

One of the most important qualities of our food is the flavour – it has to taste good. All flavours are a subtle mix of the five basic tastes – salt, sweet, bitter, sour and savoury – combined with the aromas that the foods give off, which are a crucial

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Emulsifiers in food

Ice cream is another food that would not exist were it not for emulsifiers.

Oil and water don’t mix but they do form emulsions – and these are crucial to the consistency of a number of foodstuffs. Nature is good at making emulsions, and the classic example is milk, where a complex mixture of fat droplets are suspended in an aqueous solution. Emulsifiers are

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Anti-caking agents

Anti-caking agents are used to prevent powdery and granular food products from absorbing water and clumping together

Many powdery and granular food products have a tendency to absorb water and clump together. Whether it’s table salt, icing sugar, non-dairy creamer, instant soup or even grated parmesan cheese, if the ingredients don’t flow freely then they are difficult to use. Salt cellars wouldn’t dispense salt, drink vending machines

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Acidulants in food

Acidulants are an essential ingredient in sharp, zesty food products. These acids are what give fruit its characteristic tang, and most of those that are added to food products are common in nature. For example, citric acid occurs naturally in citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons, malic acid is

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Flavour enhancers

Monosodium Glutamate (E621), known as MSG, is added to processed foods, especially soups, sauces and sausages.

Flavour enhancers are used to bring out the flavour in a wide range of foods without adding a flavour of their own.  For example, monosodium glutamate (E621), known as MSG, is added to processed foods, especially soups, sauces and sausages. Flavour enhancers are also used in a wide range of

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Antioxidants

Oxidation is a real problem for food products. Oxidation, for example, causes raw apples and potatoes go brown, but this can prevented in the kitchen by adding lemon juice. It’s very effective because lemon juice contains a very strong antioxidant – ascorbic acid or vitamin C (E300). By preventing or

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Soft drinks giants change manufacturing process to avoid ‘unfounded health warning’

Coca-Cola and Pepsi are changing how they make an ingredient in their drinks to avoid being legally obliged to put a cancer warning label on the bottle which they say is ‘scientifically unfounded’. The new recipe for caramel colouring in the drinks has less 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI) – a chemical that

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Food allergy myths

An online tool aimed at dispelling myths about food allergy and intolerance has been launched on the NHS Choices website, with the help of the Food Standards Agency (FSA). The tool, developed in conjunction with FSA allergy experts, looks at common misconceptions about food allergies and intolerances and sorts the

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Use of food additives ‘safer and more transparent’ thanks to new legislation.

Safer and more transparent use. The use of additives in food will soon become even safer and more transparent thanks to legislation adopted by the European Commission. “This represents a landmark in our efforts to strengthen food safety in the EU,” says Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner John Dalli (pictured).

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Global additives market on the up

Global sales of food and drink additives reached £17.3 billion last year, according to a new report. The best performing sectors include enzymes, acidulants and hydrocolloids, says Leatherhead Food Research’s report The Global Food Additives Market, with a growing demand for low fat, salt and sugar products – as well

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Salt in bread

THE STORY: A third of breads contain more salt than recommended under guidelines being introduced next year, according to campaign group CASH (Campaign for Action on Salt and Health). The figures came after the Department of Health announced that bread accounts for more salt in our diet than any other

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Chemist in the kitchen

A page from our first website! If you want to know more about how food additives tie in with the chemistry that goes on in the kitchen, a downloadable booklet entitled ‘In the mix’ is accessible from the home page, or from the image on this page. Chemicals have always

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