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What is a food additive?

Food Additives

A food additive is a substance added in small amounts to a foodstuff in a technical purpose (storage, production, appearance ...), sensory (flavor, color, texture ...).

A food additive may:
- Be a natural substance (of mineral, vegetable or animal);
- Be a synthetic product (reproducing natural qualities);
- Be artificial (not existing in nature).

What are the regulatory issues?

Food additives meet European directives that define:
- A "positive" list of authorized additives (everything that is not expressly permitted is prohibited);
- A list of foods to which they can be added;
- Their maximum allowable dose;
- Purity criteria for these products.

The control of additives in food is provided by the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF).

The maximum levels of additives in food are laid down so as not to exceed the acceptable daily intake (ADI): amount of an additive that can be ingested daily without risk to health (in mg / kg of body weight).

What are the different types of food additives?

Nearly 350 food additives are permitted.
Nomenclature distinguishes 24 categories of additives according to their technological effects on the food: colorings, preservatives, antioxidants, sweeteners, acidifiers, acidity, flavor enhancers, emulsifiers, gelling agents, stabilizers, thickeners, baking powders, propellants gas, packaging, anti-caking agents, antifoaming agents, firming agents, charge, melting salts, coating agents, humectants, modified starches, sequestering agents treatment.

The list of authorized additives is long. It takes the form of a code with the letter E (Europe) followed by a number indicating its class numbering from E 100 to E 1518.
For example:
- Colors: E 100 family;
- Conservatives: Family E 200;
- Anti-oxidants: Family E 300;
- Texture agents: family E 400;
- ...
Food additives are they really necessary?

Some additives are essential for both conservation for manufacturing. Such is the case:
- Preservatives (nitrites, nitrates, sulfites, sulfur dioxide, calcium propionate, Ascorbic Acid ...), which prevents the degradation of vitamins, the formation of mold or bacterial contamination;
- Antioxidants that prevent rancidity of fats, oxidation of cut fruits and vegetables;
- Emulsifiers and texture agents that improve the presentation, give soft or holding liquid preparations.
Side taste, sweeteners are used to impart a sweet taste, flavor enhancers or be designed to increase flavor, flavors are for flavor, odor sometimes even color, acidifying increase the acidity of a food ...
Given the multitude of additives used, one can nevertheless wonder if some are really useful.

What should I be wary?

We must beware of candy, confections, syrups and ice water full of additives, including colorings, in addition to providing empty calories and nutritional plan to be cariogenic (promote dental caries).

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