Additives in Foods
The use of chemicals as food additives is an ancient
practice. Sodium chloride was the first to be used.
Food additives are currently a part of our way of
eating especially in the industrialized world.
According to an estimate, as many as 10,000 compounds
or combinations of compounds find their way into foods
during processing, packaging or storage. These include
unintentional additions also e.g. residues of
pesticides used to treat crops, minute amounts of
drugs fed to animals (hormones, antibiotics) and
chemicals that seep out of plastics and other
Additives are generally used for solving complex
problems of storing, cleaning, handling, heating and
packaging commercially prepared foods. Some additives
are merely used to preserve the natural colour of the
foods (e.g., addition of nitrate to meat to preserve
the pink colour. The additives that are most commonly
used are: Preservatives, Buffers, Emulsifiers,
Neutralizing agents, Sequestering agents (or chelating
agents), Stabilizer, Flavouring and Colouring agents.
In addition, some additives are used as nutritional
supplements to increase the nutritive value of foods
such as potassium iodide and vitamins. But, before
using them they are tested on experimental animals,
one at a time.