Food - Additives - Ingredients



For decades, food - additives - ingredients have been added to things that we eat. Although food additives - ingredients 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.

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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 FDA.gov


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.




Following is a 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

Common Food Additives - Ingredients

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




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Food Additives Resources



Got questions?

Get answers about food additives and ingredients.



Food and Drug Administration fda.gov



Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) fda.gov/Food  5100 Paint Branch Parkway College Park, MD 20740-3835



Color Additives Information fda.gov Color Additives 

Toll free information line: 1-888-SAFEFOOD (723-3366)

U.S. Department of Agriculture



Food Safety and Inspection Service fsis.usda.gov Food Safety Education Staff 1400 Independence Ave., SW Room 2932-S

Washington, DC 20250-3700



Food Additives Information usda.gov Fact Sheets on Additives

Meat and Poultry Hotline: 1-800-535-4555

TTY: 1-800-256-7072

Email: fsis@usda.gov



Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC)

USDA Ag Research Service

10301 Baltimore Ave.

Beltsville, MD 20705-2351

301-504-5719

Email: fnic@nal.usda.gov



International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC) IFIC

1100 Connecticut Ave., NW Suite 430

Washington, DC 20036

202-296-6540                Email: foodinfo@ific.org



American Dietetic Association (ADA) ADA

216 W. Jackson Blvd. Chicago, IL 60606-6995

312-899-0040



The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) FAAN

11781 Lee Jackson Hwy. Suite 160 Fairfax, VA 22033 1-800-929-4040

Email: faan@foodallergy.org



Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) IFT

525 West Van Buren Suite 1000 Chicago, IL 60607 1-800-IFT-FOOD (438-3663)