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Spotlight On Spices! Issue May 2014 - Food Additives
May 03, 2014

April showers have brought May flowers and a reprieve from the harshness of winter. However, here in the northeast we have just come through a massive weather front that drenched us with flooding rains. We are so looking forward to true mid spring days!

Recently Hector V. from Medellin, Colombia, a visitor to my website, left a comment about a food preservative, Ethoxyquin. He was concise and informative about the additive which made me think about all the information on preservatives and additives I have provided on the site. It’s great stuff! And, it’s information we all should be aware of when we shop and select products for our meals. Thanks Hector!

This month I would like to introduce you to some of the other sections on that aren’t about spices, per se, but are about other ingredients that may be added to spices and spice blends you are purchasing. It’s the food additives and ingredients that are this month’s . . .

THE SPICE OF LIFE - Food Additives - Ingredients

For decades, food - additives - ingredients have been added to things that we eat. Although they help keep our foods fresh longer, and help enhance their flavor, appearance, texture and nutritional value, we should be aware of what is in the things we eat. The following information will help keep us informed.

Food additives - ingredients are strictly studied, regulated and monitored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Source

Three Reasons for Food - Additives - Ingredients:

1. Food Additives Keep or Improve the Safety and Freshness of Foods:

Mold, air, bacteria, fungi or yeast can spoil food. Preservatives slow food spoilage. Also, preservatives help control contamination that can cause food borne illness, such as botulism. Antioxidants are preservatives that stop fats, oils, and foods containing them from becoming rancid.

2. Food Additives Keep or Improve Nutritional Value of Foods:

Vitamins, minerals and fiber are nutrients added to foods adjust for those lost in processing, or to improve dietary needs and nutritional value. Foods containing added nutrients must be appropriately labeled.

3. Food and Color Additives Improve Food Taste, Texture and Appearance:

Spices, herbs, natural and artificial flavors, and sweeteners are added to enhance the taste of food, especially foods with lower fat contents. Food colors keep or make food look better. Emulsifiers, stabilizers and thickeners give foods a nice feel – “texture”. Some baked goods need leavening agents to help them rise during baking. Other additives help control the acidity and alkalinity of foods (such as Dutch Processed Cocoa which has been treated with alkaline to reduce the acidity found in its natural state).

Food manufacturers are required to list all ingredients in the food on the product label.

On the label, the ingredients are listed in order of predominance, with the ingredients used in the greatest amount first, followed in descending order by those in smaller amounts.

The label must list the names of any FDA-certified color additives (e.g., FD&C Blue No. 1 or the abbreviated name, Blue 1).

Note that some ingredients can be listed collectively as "flavors," "spices," "artificial flavoring," or in the case of color additives exempt from certification, "artificial colors", without naming each one.

Declaration of an allergenic ingredient in a collective or single color, flavor, or spice could be accomplished by singularly naming the allergenic ingredient in the ingredient list.

List of the Most Common Types of Food Additives - Ingredients

Link to each type to see what it does, why it is used, and examples of names that can be found on product labels. Note that some food additives are used for more than one purpose. Food Additives Chart

Food Preservatives

Food Sweeteners

Food Color Additives

Food Flavor Additives

Nutrients Added to Foods

Food Firming Agents

Food Emulsifiers

Food Anti-caking Agents

Food Leavening Agents

Humectants Added to Food

Dough Strengtheners - Conditioners

Food Flavor Enhancers

Fat Substitutions in Food

Yeast Nutrients Added to Food

pH Control Agents and Acidulants in Food

Enzyme Preparations in Food

Gases Added to Food

Food Stabilizers - Thickeners - Binders - Texturizers


May is the Month for:

National Herb Week, established in 1991 by the International Herb Association (IHA), is celebrated every year during the week prior to Mother’s Day. This first full week of the month puts a spotlight on the IHA, and its work to develop and coordinate a national focus on herbs, herbal uses, and herb businesses. Every year one herb is highlighted and this year it’s the Artemisia family which includes French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus ‘Sativa’).

National Barbecue Month

National Egg Month

National Hamburger Month

National Salad Month

National Salsa Month

National Strawberry Month

And, some of our favorite food days in the month include:

May - 1st Week - National Raisin Week

May 4th -10th Week before Mother’s Day - National Herb Week

May 4 - National Hoagie Day

May 13 - National Apple Pie Day

May 14 - National Buttermilk Biscuit Day

May 19 - National Devil's Food Cake Day

May 20 - National Quiche Lorraine Day

May 22 - National Vanilla Pudding Day

May 25 - National Brown-Bag-It Day

May 26 - National Blueberry Cheesecake Day

May 26 - Memorial Day - National Hamburger Day


Check here for the latest news on any spice recalls, market withdrawals, and safety alerts:

Food ALERT! Widget


Websites for Spice Retailers:

Atlantic Spice Company -

Durkee® -

Maison Terre -

McCormick® -

Milford Spice Company -

Penzeys Spices -

Savory Spice Shop -

Spice Islands® -

The Spice House -

Spice Accessories Websites:

Bottles, Containers & Jars:

Bottle Store - -

SKS Bottle & Packaging, Inc. -


Online Labels -

Spice Racks:

Tubular Spices -

Spice Rack Source -

Check out our website that's All About Sweet Potatoes


Tell us what you would love to see in our monthly eZine. We want to keep this publication fresh and relevant. We want to put a spotlight on the herbs and spices that are of the most interest to you.

Use our Contact Form to give us constructive feedback or ask questions. Thank you!

Ellen White

Eat Well. Live Well. Cook everyday with spices and herbs!

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