Food additives – types, regulations regarding their use

  • Food additives are non nutrient substances that are added to food to attain special qualities in terms of colour, texture, flavour or shelf life
  • One of the earliest known example is that of pickling – addition of salt and spices to preserve foods for long periods of time
  • There are 2 main categories of food additives:
    • Category 1
      • Colouring agents – turmeric, saffron
      • Flavouring agents – vanilla
      • Sweetening agents – sucralose, saccharin and other artificial sweeteners
      • Preservatives – sorbic acid, sodium benzoate
      • Acidity imparting agents – acetic acid, citric acid
    • Category 2
      • They essential include contaminants which find its way into food during farming, processing or packaging
      • eg: pesticides
  • There are strict regulations all over the world regarding the use of food additives
  • In India, they are regulated by the ‘Prevention of Food Adulteration Act’ and ‘Fruit Products Order’
  • Internationally, the WHO has established food standards with FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission as its principal organ
  • The nature of the food additives used should clearly be given in the label
  • Usage of non approved food additives or use in excess of permitted quantities is punishable by law

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