Food additives refer to additional food substance that we add into our food to extend its shelf life and organoleptic properties (taste and appearance) .
Food additives are commonly described as foreign substance in a food and have been generally flagged as providing negative effect towards health. How do food additives found their way into the food?
They can be added:
As Permitted by Law: Food additives and its usage are typically regulated by local food law and regulations.
Food is a very interesting topic because there is different distinction of food additives by the authority in different country. For example, FDA in United States definition for food coloring and its usage is not the same for CFIA or Health Canada. Of course, one would cross reference the amount with FAO and WHO recommendation and can still find discrepancies between these different agencies. Food industries follow guidance by local food law and regulations to use these food additives within permitted level.
As a Functional Ingredients in Food : As an emulsifier, flavoring agent,antioxidants etc.
Food additives served as a functional ingredients in food. They make the food looks good, taste even better and last long.
Undesired cross contamination:While manufacturing in the same line or the same plant.
A food plant can manufacture different products at the same time, creating many possible ways of cross contamination.
Sneaked In: As an undetected sub-ingredient of an ingredients
In the food industries, we focus on testing cross-contamination of known possible contaminants. We do not test for something unknown as it is deemed costly and unnecessary. Thus, it is possible to have undetected ingredients that are not declared by the original food ingredient manufacturer.
Food additives can find its way into many processed foods including food substitute for meat. I want to bring this out in particular because myself is a flexitarian. I tend to purchase meat substitute products because they taste like meat and provide high amount of protein. These meat substitute product are made of plant protein based flours that are categorized as food additives. Think about it, meat substitute product aren't naturally exist in nature. They are made for us,who care about environment and health. They are formulated with food additives in mind. And we still adore them. Ask around do you consider these meat substitute products as food additives compound?