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Different Types Of Food Additives


Food Additives

Food additives are things that are added to foods to preserve, flavor, or improve the taste and appearance of the foods. You can find food additives in many of the foods you eat. All you have to do is read the ingredient labels to know what has been added to the foods. Some food additives are naturally occurring compounds, and others are chemcally synthesized. There are many different types of food additives including acids, acidity regulators, anticaking agents, antifoaming agents, antioxidants, bulking agents, food coloring, color retention agents, emulsifiers, flavors, flavor enhancers, flour treatment agents, hemectants, tracer gas, perservatives, stabilizers, sweetners, and thickeners.




Food acids are added to foods to make the flavors of the food sharper. The acids also act as preservatives and antioxidants. Some common food acids include vinegar, citric acid, tartaric acid, malic acid, fumaric acid, and lactic acid.

Vinegar-It's processed from the fermentation of ethanol in a process that yields its key ingredient acetic acid. Vinegar is commonly used in food preparation, such as in pickling processes and salad dressings. There are many varieties of vinegar including malt, wine, apple cider, fruit, honey, East Asian black, flavored, Job's Tears, kombucha, kiwifruit, and distilled.

Citric acid- It's a weak organic acid. It is a natural preservative, and is also used to add a sour taste to foods and drinks. Lemons and oranges both have high concentrations of citric acids.

Tartaric acid- It's a white crystalline diprotic organic acid. This acid occurs naturally in many plants including grapes, bananas, and tamarinds. It's also one of the main acids found in wine. Tartaric acid is added to other foods to give them a sour taste.

Malic acid- It's an organic compound and is the active ingredient in many sour foods. It's mostly found in unripe fruits.

Fumaric acid- It's an organic acid that's widely found in nature. It can be found in fumitory bolete mushrooms, lichen, and Iceland moss. It's usually used in beverages and baking powders. It adds a sourness to foods, and is also used as a xoagulant in stovetop pudding mixes.

Lactic acid- It's an organic compound that's present in certain plant juices, the blood and muscles of animals, and in the soil. Lactid acid in foods is primaritly found in sour milk products and in some cottage cheeses.

Acidity Regulators

These are added to foods to change or otherwise control the acidity and alkalinity of foods. Acidity regulators can be organic or mineral acids, bases, neutralizing agents, or buffering agents. The most commonly used acidity regulators include citric, acectic, and lactic acids.

Sodium bicarbonate

Sodium bicarbonate

Anticaking Agents

 Anticaking agents are placed in powdered or granulated foods to provent them from caking or sticking.  Some anticaking agents include sodium bicarbonate, sodium ferrocyanice, and potassium ferrocyanide.

Sodium bicarbonate-  It's a white solid that is crystalline, but often appears as a fine powder.  It has a slightly salty taste, and can be found dissolved in many mineral springs.  Many people know it as baking soda.

Sodium ferrocyanide-  It's a coordination compound of formula Na4Fe(CN)6, that forms semitransparent yellow crystals at room temperature, and decomposes at its boiling point.  It's soluble in water and insoluble in alcohol.

Potassium ferrocyanide-  It forms lemon yellow monoclinic crystals at room temperature, and decomposes at its boiling point.

Diet Coke has a antifoaming agent to reduce froth

Diet Coke has a antifoaming agent to reduce froth

Antifoaming Agents

Antifoaming agents reduce or prevent foaming in foods. These agents are included in many foods, such as Diet Pepsi, Diet Coke, and Sprite. Some silicone oils, such as sinethicone, are potent antifoaming agents, and are added to cooking oils to prevent excessive frothing during deep frying. There are many types of defoamers including oil based, water based, silicone based, and EO/PO based.

Oil based defoamers- These defoamers have an oil carrier. The oil might be mineral oil, vegetable oil, white oil, or any other oil that is insoluble in the foaming medium. These are heavy duty defoamers and are usually best at knocking down surface foam.

Water based defoamers- These defoamers are different types of oils and waxes dispersed in a water base. They are best at releasing entrained air.

Silicone based defoamers- These defoamers have a silicone compound as the active component. They are heavy duty defoamers that are good at knocking down surface foam, and releasing entrained air.

EO/PO based defoamers- These defoamers contain polyethylene glycol and polyprpylene glycole coplolymers. They usually have good dispersing properties and are often well suited when deposit problems are an issue.

Tocopherols are added to oils to prevent them from going rancid

Tocopherols are added to oils to prevent them from going rancid


 Some antioxidants, such as vitamin C, act as preservatives by inhibiting the effects of oxygen on foods.  They can also be beneficial to health.  Ascorbic acid and tocopherols are natural antioxidants.  Propyl gallate, tertiary butylhdroquinone, and butylated hydroxyanisole are synthetic antioxidants.

Ascorbic acid-  It's a sugar adid with antioxidant properties.  Vitamin C is an ascorbic acid.

Tocopherols-  They are a class of chemical compounds which may have vitamin E activity.  They are sometimes used in foods to prevent oil from going rancid.

Propyl gallate-  It's an ester formed by the condensation of gallic acid and propanol.  It's used to protect oils and fats in products from oxidation.

Tertiary butylhdroquinone-  It's an aromatic organic compound which is a type of phenol.  It's highly effective in preserving unsaturated vegetable oils and many edible animal fats.

Butylated hydroxyanisole-  It's widely known for its abbreviation BHA.  It's an aromatic compound with the chemical names of 2-and 3-tert-butyl-4-methoxyphenol.  It's used in foods to prevent fat spoilage.

Starch is used in gravy

Starch is used in gravy

Bulking Agents

 Bulking agents are additives that increase the bulk of a food without affecting its nutritional value.  An example of a bulking agent is starch.

Starch-  It's a carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units joined together by glycosidic bonds.  Pure starch is a white, tasteless and odorless powder.  It's insoluble in cold water or alcohol.  It can be dissolved in warm water, which then can be used as a thickening, stiffening or gluing agent.  As a food additive it's typically used as a thickener and stabilizer.  It's used in foods such as puddings, custards, soups, sauces, gravies, pie fillings, and salad dressings.  It's also used to make noodles and pastas.

Food coloring

Food coloring

Food Coloring

 Food coloring is added to foods to replace lost colors during preparation, or to make foods look more attractive.  In the USA there are seven arfificial colorings that are permitted in foods.  They include FD&C Blue No. 1- Brilliant Blue FCF, FD&C Blue No. 2- Indigotine, FD&C Green No. 3- Fast Green, FD&C Red No. 40- Allura Red AC, FD&C Red No. 3- Erythrosine, FD&C Yellow No. 5- Tartrazine, and FD&C Yellow No.6- Sunset Yellow.

Brilliant Blue FCF-  It's often used in ice cream, tinned processed peas, dairy products, sweets, and drinks.  It has the appearance of a reddish-blue powder.

Indigotine-  It has a distinctive blue color.  It's used as a food colorant, but it's mainly used to dye blue jeans.

Green No.3-  It's a green triarylmethan food dye.  It can be used for tinned green peas and other vegetables, jellies, sauces, fish, desserts, and dry bakery mixes.

Allura Red AC-  It's a red azo dye.  It has the appearance of a dark red powder.  It was originally introduced in the U.S. as a replacement for the use of amaranth as a food coloring.

Erythrosine-  It's a cherry-pink synthetic fluorone food coloring.  It's commonly used in sweets such as candies and popsicles.  It's more widely used in cake-decorating gels.

Tartrazine-  It's a synthetic lemon yellow azo dye.  Foods that commonly have tartrazine confectionery, cotton candy, soft drinks, energy drinks, instant puddings, flavored corn chips, cereals, cake mixes, pastries, custard powder, soups, sauces, some rices, powdered drink mixes, sports drinks, ice cream, candy, chewing gum, marzipan, jam, jelly, gelatins, marmalade, horseradish, yogurt, noodles, pickles and other pickled products, certain brands of fruit squash, fruit cordial, potato chips, biscuits, and many more convenience foods.

Sunset Yellow-  It's a synthetic coal tar and azo yellow dye.  It may be found in orange squash, orange jelly, marzipan, apricot jam, citrus marmalade, lemon curd, sweets, hot chocolate mix, packet soups, trifle mix, breadcrumbs, cheese sauce mix, soft drinks, some yogurts, fortune cookies, some red sauces, certain pound cakes, and other red food products.

Color Retention Agents

Color retention agents are used to preserve a foods existing color.  Many of these agents work by absorbing or binding to oxygen before it can damage the foods.  An example is ascorbic acid, or vitamin C.  It's often added to brightly colored fruits, such as peaches, during canning.  It's also added to wines, fruit, and vegetable-based drinks, juices, baby foods, and fat-containing cereal based foods, such as biscuits and rusks.

Egg yolk is an emulsifier

Egg yolk is an emulsifier


 Emulsifiers allow water and oils to remain mixed together in an emulsion, as in mayonnaise, ice cream, and homogenized milk.  Examples of food emulsifiers are egg yolk, honey, and mustard.  Soy lecithin is another emulsifier and thickener.

Jelly beans that are made by jelly belly come in more than 50 flavors.

Jelly beans that are made by jelly belly come in more than 50 flavors.


 Flavors are additives that give foods a particular taste or smell.  There are three principal types of flavorings used in foods.  They include natural flavoring substances, nature-identical flavoring substances, and artificial flavoring substances.

Natural flavoring substances-  They are substances that are obtained from plant or animal raw materials.

Nature-identical flavoring substances-  They are flavoring substances obtained by synthesis or isolated through chemical process.

Artificial flavoring substances-  They are flavoring substances not identified in a natural product intended for human consumption.  They are typically produced by fractional distillation and additional chemical manipulation naturally sourced chemicals or from crude oil or coal tar.

Flavor enhancers are added to instant soups to enhance their flavors.

Flavor enhancers are added to instant soups to enhance their flavors.

Flavor Enhancers

 Flavor enhancers are used to enhance a foods existing flavors.  They are commonly added to commercially produced food products, such as frozen dinners, instant soups, and snack foods, to make them taste better.  Some common flavor enhancers include monosodium glutamate, monopatassium glutamate, calcium diglutamate, and monammonium glutamate.

Monosodium glutamate-  It's also known as MSG.  It's a sodium salt of the naturally occurring non-essential amino acid glutamic acid.  It's normally obtained by the fermentation of carbohydrates and by using bacterial or yeast species.

Monopotassium glutamate-  It's a potassium acid salt of glutamic acid.  It's a non-sodium MSG alternative.

Calcium diglutamate-  It's sometimes abbreviated CDG, and is a calcium acid salt of glutamic acid.  It has the same flavor-enhancing properties as MSG, but without the increased sodium content.

Monoammonium glutamate-  It's an ammonium acid salt of glutamic acid.


Flour-treatment Agents

 Flour-treatment agents are added to flour to improve its color or its use in baking.

Flour bleaching agents-  They are added to flour to  make it appear whiter, and to oxidize the surfaces of the flours grains to help with the developing of glutein.  A few flour bleaching agents include organic peroxides calcium peroxide, and azodicarbonamide.

Maturing agents-  They are added to flour to in order to help with glutein.  They may or may not also act as bleaching agents.  Some common maturing agents include various flour bleaching agents, carbamide, potassium bromate, ascorbic acid, phosphates, and malted barley.

Processing agents-  They help with various aspects of handling the dough during baking.  L-cysteine helps soften the dough and thus reduces the processing time.


Dried fruits.  Humectants keep foods from drying out.

Dried fruits. Humectants keep foods from drying out.


Humectants prevent foods from drying out. Some examples of humectants include glycerol, propylene dlycol, and triacetin.

Glycerol- It's a colorless, odorless viscous liquid. It's also sweet-tasting and of low toxicity.

Propylene glycol- It's a colorless, nearly odorless, clear, viscous liquid. It's also faintly sweet tasting.

Triacetin- It's the triester of glycerol and acetic acid.

Tracer gas guarantees shelf life for foods.

Tracer gas guarantees shelf life for foods.

Tracer Gas

 Tracer gas allows for package integrity testing to prevent foods from being exposed to atmosphere, thus guaranteeing shelf life.

Perservatives are put in canned foods to keep them form spoiling

Perservatives are put in canned foods to keep them form spoiling


 Preservatives prevent or inhibit spoilage of food due to fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms.  Common atimocrobial preservative include calcium propionate, sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite, and sulfites.

Calcium propionate-  It's the calcium salt of propionic acid.  It's used in a wide variety of foods including bread, other baked goods, processed meat, whey, and other dairy products.

Sodium nitrate-  It's a white solid which is very soluble in water.  It's found naturally in leafy green vegetables.

Sodium Nitrite-  When pure, it's a white to slighlty yellowish crystalline powder.  It's used as a perservative in meats and fish.

Sulfites-  They occur naturally in all wines to some extent.  Sulfites may be added to wines to prevent spoilage and oxidation at several stages of winemaking.  Sulfites are also used as perservatives in dried fruits and dried potato products.


Pectin is used in jams as a gelling agent

Pectin is used in jams as a gelling agent


 Stabilizers are added to foods to give them a firmer texture.  Two examples of stabilizers are agar and pectin.

Agar-  It's a gelantinous substance derived from Red algae.  It can be used to make jellies, puddiings, and custards.

Pectin-  It's produced commercially as a white to light brown powder, mainly extracted from citrus fruits.  It's used in foods as a gelling agent.  Particularly in jams and jellies.  It's also used in fillings, sweets, and as a stabilizer in fruit juices and milk drinks.


Honey is used in many foods as a sweetner

Honey is used in many foods as a sweetner


 Sweetners are added to foods for flavoring.  A few nutritive sweetners incude sugar alcohols, honey, and syrups.

Sugar alcohol-  In commercial foodstuffs it's commonly used in place of table sugar.  Some common sugar alcohols include glycol, glycerol, Erythritol, threitol, arabitol, arabitol, xylitol, and ribitol.

Honey-  It's a sweet food made by certain insects using nectar from flowers.  The variety produced by honey bees is the one most commonly consumed by humans.  Honey is usually added, as a sweetner, to tea and in some commercial beverages.  It's also used in cooking, baking, and as a spread on breads.

Syrups-  They are thick, biscous liquids, containing large amounts of dissolved sugars.  A lot of beverages use syrups to offset the tartness of some juices used in the drink recipes.

Flour is used in gumbos as a thickening agent

Flour is used in gumbos as a thickening agent


 Thickeners are substances which, when added to a mixture, increases its viscosity without substantially modifiying its other properties.

Flour-  It's often used for thickening gravies, gumbos, and stews.

Cereal grains-  They are used to thicken soups.

Vegetable gums-  A few vegetable gums include alginin, guar gum, locust bean gum, and xanthan gum.

Protein-  A few protein thickeners include collagen, egg whites, furcellaran, and gelatin.


guriya0202 on November 23, 2015:

Thnku soo much....it really help me a lot to get info on food additives...

nancy_30 (author) from Georgia on June 02, 2014:

I'm glad my hub answered your questions richel kate.

richel kate on September 26, 2013:

hub answered my questions !!!!!!!!!!!!!

tintin1703 from jakarta, indonesia on December 26, 2012:

Nancy your hub is really informative. i tried a few sites for information on food additives but this hub of yours contains more information than them. and i thank you for making my work easier on collecting information on food additives and hats off to your effort in creating this wonderful hub.

nancy_30 (author) from Georgia on August 29, 2011:

I'm glad you liked the hub erik estrada. Thanks for leaving a comment.

erik estrada on August 28, 2011:

great hub i love it thanks/

nancy_30 (author) from Georgia on December 16, 2010:

Thank you for commenting on my hub Emelis.

nancy_30 (author) from Georgia on December 16, 2010:

Thank you for your comment KLeichester.

nancy_30 (author) from Georgia on December 16, 2010:

I'm glad my hub was helpful waynesha.

Emelia Appah on December 13, 2010:

a very comprehensive work done

KLeichester on December 01, 2010:

Nice post. Thank you.

waynesha on November 30, 2010:

thank for helping me with my school work

nancy_30 (author) from Georgia on May 27, 2010:

Thank you for your comment Rk Oberoi.

Rk Oberoi on May 27, 2010:

Great HUb...well done. You can find more information on food additive here on food additives world.

nancy_30 (author) from Georgia on April 09, 2010:

Thank you for your comment prasetio. I'm glad you liked it and will be able to use this information.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on April 09, 2010:

For healthy reason. I liked this hub. You have great information about food additives, I really don't know some of them. And as a teacher I can share this to my student. Good for my science lesson. Good work, Nancy. I rate this Up!

nancy_30 (author) from Georgia on March 29, 2010:

Thank you Sandyspider.

Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin, USA on March 29, 2010:

Congratulations on your win.

nancy_30 (author) from Georgia on March 29, 2010:

Yeah, me too. Thank you for your comment Habee.

Holle Abee from Georgia on March 29, 2010:

Now I'm scared to eat! Great research.

nancy_30 (author) from Georgia on March 28, 2010:

Thank you for your comment Michael and congratulations on your win for your antioxidant hub. I've been so busy researching I haven't got to read it yet, but I will.

nancy_30 (author) from Georgia on March 28, 2010:

Thank you Darlene for your comment. While doing my research I was amazed at some of the things they put in our foods. Some of which are not that good for us, but are necessary for keeping our foods preserved.

Michael Jay on March 28, 2010:

Two thumbs up, nancy! Congratulations! This hub is really great and filled with valuable information.

Darlene Sabella from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ... on March 28, 2010:

Fantastic hub, so much for us to understand and learn what we are digesting everyday. I am looking a food so different these days from the great articles you write. Thank you for sharing all this information, and all this crap they put in our food. The sad thing is I love diet coke...Maybe addicted is a better word...

nancy_30 (author) from Georgia on March 27, 2010:

Thank you so much for your comment Money Glitch. I didn't even know I had won. I'm so excited that I did.

Money Glitch from Texas on March 27, 2010:

Great info on food additives! Thanks for sharing your insight and congratulations on winning the daily contest. :)

nancy_30 (author) from Georgia on March 27, 2010:

Thank you Sandyspider for your comment.

Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin, USA on March 27, 2010:

Thank you for breaking all of this down.

nancy_30 (author) from Georgia on March 27, 2010:

Thank you Hello, hello for commenting on my hub. I did do a lot of research on this one. Thank you for noticing all my hard work.

nancy_30 (author) from Georgia on March 27, 2010:

Thank you Cathi for your comment. I did put a lot of time into this one. Thank you for noticing.

nancy_30 (author) from Georgia on March 27, 2010:

Thank you Betherann for taking the time to read and comment on my hub.

nancy_30 (author) from Georgia on March 27, 2010:

Thank you Pamela for your comment. I never realized that there where so many different types either, until I started researching it. I was amazed at the things that were added to our foods.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on March 27, 2010:

Wow, what a comprehensive and informative hub. Thank you so much. You much done such a huge amount of research to put all this together.

Cathi Sutton on March 27, 2010:

Great Hub Nancy! Very well done, and great research. I can always tell you put a lot into what you write! Thank you for the wonderful info!

Beth Morey from Montana on March 27, 2010:

This is a comprehensive list. Nice work!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 27, 2010:

This is a terrific hub. I never would have thought of all those additives. It is a great list with good pictures. Thumbs up!