Food Additives People have been using food additives for thousands of years. Today more than 3000 substances are used as food additives. Salt, sugar, and corn syrup are by far the most widely used additives in food in this country. How this might affect the quality (including nutritional value) of food will depend on the additive.
“Food additive” is defined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as any substance that— directly or indirectly—becomes a component or otherwise affects the characteristics of any food. This definition includes any substance used in the production, processing, treatment, packaging, transportation or storage of food. Additives are used to maintain or improve safety, freshness, nutritional value, taste, texture and appearance. The use of food additives has become more prominent in recent years due to the increased production of prepared, processed, and convenience foods.
According to the FDA, “Direct food additives are those that are added to a food for a specific purpose in that food.” For example, using phosphates in meat and poultry products to retain moisture and protect the flavor. “Indirect food additives are those that become part of the food in trace amounts due to its packaging, storage or other handling,” according to the FDA. For instance, minute amounts of packaging substances may find their way into foods during storage. Food packaging manufacturers must prove to the FDA that all materials coming in contact with food are safe before they are permitted for use in such a manner. FDA defines a color additive as any dye, pigment, or substance which—when added or applied to a food, drug, or cosmetic, or to the human body—is capable (alone or through reactions with other substances) of imparting color.
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