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.
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
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.
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.
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
Do you know of other additives found on product labels, but not listed above?
Get answers about food additives and ingredients.
Food and Drug Administration
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
Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC)
USDA Ag Research Service
10301 Baltimore Ave.
Beltsville, MD 20705-2351
International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC) IFIC
1100 Connecticut Ave., NW Suite 430
Washington, DC 20036
American Dietetic Association (ADA) ADA
216 W. Jackson Blvd. Chicago, IL 60606-6995
The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) FAAN
11781 Lee Jackson Hwy. Suite 160 Fairfax, VA 22033 1-800-929-4040
Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) IFT
525 West Van Buren
Chicago, IL 60607