Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Additional Information about Food Additives

Q. What is the difference between "natural" and "artificial" additives?

A. Some additives are manufactured from natural sources such as soybeans and corn, which provide lecithin to maintain product consistency, or beets, which provide beet powder used as food coloring. Other useful additives are not found in nature and must be man-made. Artificial additives can be produced more economically, with greater purity and more consistent quality than some of their natural counterparts. Whether an additive is natural or artificial has no bearing on its safety.

Q. Is a natural additive safer because it is chemical-free?

A. No. All foods, whether picked from your garden or your supermarket shelf, are made up of chemicals. For example, the vitamin C or ascorbic acid found in an orange is identical to that produced in a laboratory. Indeed, all things in the world consist of the chemical building blocks of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and other elements.These elements are combined in various ways to produce starches, proteins, fats, water and vitamins found in foods.

Q. Are sulfites safe?

A. Sulfites added to baked goods, condiments, snack foods and other products are safe for most people. A small segment of the population, however, has been found to develop hives, nausea, diarrhea, shortness of breath or even fatal shock after consuming sulfites. For that reason, in 1986 FDA banned the use of sulfites on fresh fruits and vegetables intended to be sold or served raw to consumers. Sulfites added as a preservative in all other packaged and processed foods must be listed on the product label.

Q. Does FD&C Yellow No.5 cause allergic reactions?

A. FD&C Yellow No.5, or tartrazine, is used to color beverages, desert powders, candy ice cream, custards and other foods. The color additive may cause hives in fewer than one out of 10,000 people. By law, whenever the color isadded to foods or taken internally, it must be listed on the label. This allows the small portion of people who may be sensitive to FD&C Yellow No.5 to avoid it.

Q. Does the low calorie sweetener aspartame carry adverse reactions?

A. There is no scientific evidence that aspartame causes adverse reactions in people. All consumer complaints related to the sweetener have been investigated as thoroughly as possible by federal authorities for more than five years, in part under FDA's Adverse Reaction Monitoring System. In addition, scientific studies conducted during aspartame's pre-approval phase failed to show that it causes any adverse reactions in adults or children. Individuals who have concerns about possible adverse reactions to aspartame or other substances should contact their
physicians.

Q. Do additives cause childhood hyperactivity?

A. No. Although this theory was popularized in the 1970's, well-controlled studies conducted since that time have produced no evidence that food additives cause hyperactivity or learning disabilities in children. A Consensus Development Panel of the National Institutes of Health concluded in 1982 that there was no scientific evidence to support the claim that additives or colorings cause hyperactivity.

Q. Why are decisions sometimes changed about the safety of food ingredients?

A. Since absolute safety of any substance can never be proven, decisions about the safety of food ingredients are made on the best scientific evidence available. Scientific knowledge is constantly evolving. Therefore, federal officials
often review earlier decisions to assure that the safety assessment of a food substance remains up to date. Any change made in previous clearances should be recognized as an assurance that the latest and best scientific knowledge is being applied to enhance the safety of the food supply.

Q. What are some other food additives that may be used in the future?

A. Among other petitions, FDA is carefully evaluating requests to use ingredients that would replace either sugar or fat in food. In 1990, FDA confirmed the GRAS status of Simplesse, (registered trademark) a fat replacement made
from milk or egg white protein, for use in frozen desserts. The agency also is evaluating a food additive petition for olestra, which would partially replace the fat in oils and shortenings.

Q. What is the role of modern technology in producing food additives?

A. Many new techniques are being researched that will allow the production of additives in ways not previously possible. One approach, known as biotechnology, uses simple organisms to produce additives that are the same food components found in nature. In 1990, FDA approved the first bioengineered enzyme, rennin, which traditionally has been extracted from calves' stomachs for use in making cheese.

Why are additives food used in food ?

Additives perform a variety of useful functions in foods that are often taken for granted. Since most people no longer live on farms, additives help keep food wholesome and appealing while en route to markets sometimes thousands of
miles away from where it is grown or manufactured. Additives also improve the nutritional value of certain foods and can make them more appealing by improving their taste, texture, consistency or color.
Some additives could be eliminated if we were willing to grow our own food, harvest and grind it, spend many hours cooking and canning, or accept increased risks of food spoilage. But most people today have come to rely on themany technological, aesthetic and convenience benefits that additives provide in food.

Additives are used in foods for five main reasons:

To Maintain product consistency. Emulsifiers give products a consistent texture and prevent them from separating. Stabilizers and thickeners give smooth uniform texture. Anti-caking agents help substances such as salt to flow freely.
To improve or maintain nutritional value. Vitamins and minerals are added to many common foods such as milk, flour, cereal and margarine to make up for those likely to be lacking in a person's diet or lost in processing. Such fortification and enrichment has helped reduce malnutrition among the U.S. population. All
products containing added nutrients must be appropriately labeled.
To maintain palatability and wholesomeness. Preservatives retard product spoilage caused by mold, air, bacteria, fungi or yeast. Bacterial contamination can cause foodborne illness, including life-threatening botulism. Antioxidants are preservatives that prevent fats and oils in baked goods and other foods from
becoming rancid or developing an off-flavor. They also prevent cut fresh fruits such as apples from turning brown when exposed to air.
To provide leavening or control acidity/alkalinity. Leavening agents that release acids when heated can react with baking soda to help cakes, biscuits and other baked goods to rise during baking. Other additives help modify the acidity and alkalinity of foods for proper flavor, taste and color.
To enhance flavor or impart desired color. Many spices and natural and synthetic flavors enhance the taste of foods. Colors, likewise, enhance the appearance of certain foods to meet consumer expectations.
Examples of substances that perform each of these functions are provided in the chart "Common Uses of Additives."
Many substances added to food may seem foreign when listed on the ingredient label, but are actually quite familiar.
For example, ascorbic acid is another name for Vitamin C; alphatocopherol is another name for Vitamin E; and betacarotene is a source of Vitamin A. Although there are no easy synonyms for all additives, it is helpful to remember that all food is made up of chemicals. Carbon, hydrogen and other chemical elements provide the basic building
blocks for everything in life.

What is a colour additives ?

What is a Colour Additive?

A color additive is any dye, pigment or substance that can impart color when added or applied to a food, drug, or cosmetic, or to the human body. Color additives may be used in foods, drugs, cosmetics, and certain medical devices such as contact lenses. Color additives are used in foods for many reasons, including to offset color loss due to storage or processing of foods and to correct natural variations in food color.
Colors permitted for use in foods are classified as certified or exempt from certification. Certified colors are manmade, with each batch being tested by the manufacturer and FDA to ensure that they meet strict specifications for purity. There are nine certified colors approved for use in the United States. One example is FD&C Yellow No.6,which is used in cereals, bakery goods, snack foods and other foods.
Color additives that are exempt from certification include pigments derived from natural sources such as vegetables,minerals or animals. For example, caramel color is produced commercially by heating sugar and other carbohydrates under strictly controlled conditions for use in sauces, gravies, soft drinks, baked goods and other foods. Most colors exempt from certification also must meet certain legal criteria for specifications and purity.

What is food additives ?

A food additive is any substance added to food. Legally, the term refers to "any substance the intended use which results or may reasonably be expected to result-directly or indirectly-in its becoming a componentor otherwise affecting the characteristics of any food." This definition includes any substance used in the production,processing, treatment, packaging, transportation or storage of food.
If a substance is added to a food for a specific purpose in that food, it isreferred to as a direct additive.
For example,the low-calorie sweetener aspartame, which is used in beverages, puddings, yogurt, chewing gum and other foods, isconsidered a direct additive. Many 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 other handling. For instance, minute amounts of packaging substances may find their way into foods during storage. Food
packaging manufacturers must be proven by the Food and Drugs Administration.

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