Additives

A substance added to food to enhance its flavour or appearance or to preserve it.

Food colours

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 be tasteless, or even spoiled. …

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Sweeteners

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 – the first, saccharin, was …

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Preservatives in food

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 food poisoning incidents in history …

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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 arrowroot have been used for …

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Flavourings

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 part of the way foods …

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Emulsifiers in food

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 the chemicals that make emulsions …

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Anti-caking agents

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 would block up, and the …

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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 found in apples, and tartaric …

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Flavour enhancers

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 other foods including savoury snacks, …

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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 slowing down the oxidation process …

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