Food Additives


Definition

The food additive, according to the United States Food & Nutrition Board, is defined as “any substance, or mixture of substances, other than basic foods, which is found in the food ready for consumption following the various treatments associated with its production, processing, conservation and packaging” . In this definition there is no reference to the difference between “voluntary additive” and “involuntary additive”: the first is what we commonly consider today, the second, however, is represented by residues of various quantities that can derive from agro-zootechnical treatments and technological (we are therefore closer in definition to that of a foreign substance).

At the end of the 1950s, the experts of the International Commission of Agricultural Industries (CIIA), on the occasion of the Como Symposium, advanced a different definition of food additive: “with the name of added chemical substances (addition chemicals) it is appropriate to include all the substances which are not, at the origin, a constituent part of the food, but which are added to it in order to improve its appearance, smell, flavour, consistency, shelf life, or which they could still enter the composition of foods as impurities deriving from the application of different manufacturing processes”. On that occasion, the hypothesis of an addition to this definition was also mooted: “vitamin C, table salt, vinegar, alcohol, sugar and other substances are not to be considered as added chemical substances”. substances which have themselves been considered “foods” due to their nutritional or stimulating effect”. If vitamin C is excluded – the addition of which must be declared as an additive even when its vitamin activity does not come into play, but only its antioxidant or maturation activity – the resolution did not need any legal reminder.

For the Italian legislationchemical additives are considered to be those “substances devoid of nutritional value or used for non-nutritive purposes, which are added at any stage of processing, to the mass or surface of foods, to preserve the chemical, physical or physico-chemical characteristics over time, to avoid spontaneous alteration or to impart or favorably enhance particular characteristics of appearance, flavour, odor or consistency”.
In Italy, voluntary additives are regulated by the Ministerial Decree of 31.3.1965 and subsequent amendments; the positive lists indicate, for each compound, the cases and doses of permitted use.
Today, even for food additives, the Italian standard is aligned with the directives of the European Economic Community (EEC).

Classification of food additives

Bibliography: Mariani, Testa – Food additives '09; Cerutti, Food risk – '93

Additives can be grouped based on the main function they perform in the food in which they are contained and are classified into:

COMPOUNDS AGAINST MICROBIAL CHANGES (ANTISEPTICS, FUNGISTATICS, ANTIFERMENTATIVES, PRESERVATIVES):

  1. Sorbic acid and some of its salts
  2. Benzoic acid and some of its salts
  3. Some esters of p-oxybenzoic acid
  4. Sulfur dioxide and sulphites
  5. Diphenyl, o-phenylphenol, thiabendazole (for surface treatments)
  6. Formic acid (limited cases, in some countries)
  7. Formaldehyde, urotropin (limited cases)
  8. Nitrate and nitrite (sausages and analogues, cheese milk in some countries)
  9. “Food” acids (acetic, propionic and their alkaline salts)
  10. Lactic acid
  11. Carbon dioxide
  12. Some antibiotics (nisin, pimaricin, for limited cases)

COMPOUNDS AGAINST RORRANDING OF FAT AND BROWNING:

  1. ANTIOXIDANTS:

    • L-ascorbic acid and some derivatives
    • Tocopheroli
    • Alkyl gallates
    • Lecithin (most used as an emulsifier)
    • Butileossianisolo (BHA)
    • Butileossitoluolo (BHT)
    • Tert-butyl-hydroquinone or TBHQ (in USA)
  2. SYNERGISTS (SECONDARY ANTIOXIDANTS, SEQUESTRANTS):

COMPOUNDS AGAINST PHYSICAL ALTERATIONS AND/OR FOR THE CONTROL OF RHEOLOGICAL QUALITY (it is the science that studies the balances achieved in matter deformed as a result of stresses):

  1. THICKENERS, GELIFICANTS, STABILIZERS:
  2. EMULSIFYERS:

    • Lecithin
    • Salts of fatty acids
    • Mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids and their esters
    • Minor emulsifiers (stearoyl, lactylates, tartrate)
    • Clouders (generally not permitted except in some countries)

ADDITIVES WITH VARIOUS ACTION (as indicated by the Ministerial Decree of 14 April 1983):

  1. Flavor enhancers (monosodium glutamate)
  2. Coating agent (waxes, jellies, gums, vaseline and paraffins, coumarone-indene resins)
  3. Citric, tartaric, o-phosphoric, acetic, lactic acidifier
  4. Anti-caking agent (silica, calcium and magnesium salts)
  5. Baking powder (citric acid, tartaric acid and its monopotassium salt, disodium pyrophosphate, sodium and ammonium bicarbonate, glucono-delta-lactone)
  6. Antifoaming agent (dimethyl-polysiloxane only for instant drinks for vending machines)
  7. Fusion salts (citrates and polyphosphates)
  8. Flour treating agent (sulphites, l-ascorbic acid, cysteine)
  9. Vari:

DYES

They can be divided into:

  1. Natural
  2. Synthetics
  3. Caramel

FLAVORING AND AROMA ENHANCERS

They can be divided into:

  1. Natural
  2. Natural-identical
  3. Artificial

NUTRIENTS:

  1. Amino acids
  2. Vitamins
  3. Mineral elements (iron, calcium, fluorine…)

SWEETENERS OR SWEETENERS, SUGAR SUBSTITUTES:

  1. Sugars and similar (fructose, sorbitol…)
  2. Sweeteners with high nutritional value (natural, synthetic)


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