To begin with, the fact of use food additives — Achievement not recently.
People have always been concerned with the problem of how to preserve food, make it cheaper and tastier. True, a couple of centuries ago, only natural ingredients were used as additives: honey, salt, carmine, vinegar. And since the XIX century, when food chemistry began to actively develop, artificial substances were added to them.
Today for «Improvements«Products already used more than 500 compounds.
All food additives are divided into several groups.
For their designation in the European Union since 1953, the «E» index and a digital code are used to help determine what they are put into the product.
According to international rules, packages may contain both an index of a substance and its name.
Before you add to the list, it is tested for safety. But the data may change over time, and the substance that was once allowed to be used is banned.
There are also so-called unresolved additives — usually these are new, little-studied substances.
Only 6 are prohibited in Russia:
- dyes E-121 (citrus red), E-123 (amaranth), E-128 (red 2G);
- preservatives E-216 (from the group of parabens), 217, 240 (formaldehyde).
In a decent society, it is customary to condemn all these «E» and buy food from farmers or in organic stores. In fact, a substantial proportion of supplements is quite safe. Among them are antioxidants ascorbic acid (E-300) and tocopherols (E-306-309).
Preservative malic acid (E-262).
Pectin stabilizers (E-440) — vegetable fibers useful for digestion. Carrageenan (E-407) and agar (E-406) are made from seaweed.
Guar gum (E 412) — from beans of guar, or pea tree. Carob bean gum (E-410) is made from carob beans.
Emulsifier lecithin (E-322) — from soy or yolk.
Among the dyes are vegetable pigments carotene (E-160a) and anthocyanins (E-163), vitamin Riboflavin (E-101).
On the other hand, the reputation of many additives is questionable, although their harm has not been finally proven.
In the United States and many European countries, it is believed that E-102, 128, 155, 173 dyes, added to sweets, soda and canned foods, cause allergies and overexcitement in children.
The well-known preservative E-200 sorbic acid (cheeses, juices, wines, dried fruits, bread) can cause an asthma attack.
Not less popular sodium benzoate (E-211) not the best way affects the metabolism.
E-220 sulfur dioxide (beer, wine, canned meat) causes headache and nausea.
Preservatives sodium nitrite (E-250) and potassium nitrate (E-252), without which sausages and other sausages are made, are simply poisonous, even if they are put in microdoses.
Sorbitol sweetener (E-420) is often advertised as a safe sweetener for chewing gum.
It really does not destroy the enamel, but often causes flatulence and diarrhea.
Sweeteners aspartame (E-951) and sodium cyclamate (E-952) are added to light products and advertised as a healthy alternative to sugar.
In this case, the former can cause renal failure, and the latter, when heated, turns into carcinogenic formaldehyde.
Modified starches (E-1400-1451), oddly enough, have no relation to genetic engineering.
They are produced by processing ordinary starch, and according to today’s data, the result is no more harmful than the source.
On flavor enhancers, primarily monosodium glutamate E-621, it is customary to hang all dogs. Several years ago, they mistakenly associated with their use the «syndrome of a Chinese restaurant» (the appearance of negative reactions of the body after visiting institutions with Japanese and Chinese cuisine).
Meanwhile, many nutritionists agree that it is not the flavor enhancers that are bad, but the products to which they are added. It is one thing to improve the taste, and another is to mask not high-quality food and its zero nutritional value.
Usually, glutamate can be seen in the company of starch, low-grade flour, palm oil, hyper doses of salt and pepper.
Food Additives in Specific Products
There is a gentleman’s set of additives, which is used in the production of the most popular food.
In this case, there are always options with more or less content «E».
On the shelves you can find a loaf with the usual composition of «flour, yeast, eggs, water.»
But sometimes, in the list of ingredients it means “baking improver”.
This term refers to complex combinations of preservatives, disintegrating agents, sweeteners, emulsifiers and stabilizers.
Often, such a cocktail is added to the dough, mixed with obviously low-quality flour.
Their production is usually not complete without modified starch as a thickener.
In fruit yogurts put dyes (including natural) and flavors (most often identical to natural).
Curds.Their composition is more complicated than that of yogurt, — the consistency is different.
Here stabilizers appear, often several at once, both natural and artificial.
Most often, they cannot do without modified starch, preservatives of citric acid, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate, gums as stabilizers.
Further possible different options. Some manufacturers use only paprika extract as a dye, others — with a dozen artificial colors and flavors …
Ready sauces.The same modified starch and the mass of other additives, and the more complex the taste declared on the package, the more.
As a rule, these are artificial flavors, flavor enhancers, sorbic acid E-200 as a preservative.
Bouillon cubes.Salt and trans fats, multiplied by the «improving» of all types and varieties.
In the process of processing the product often loses volatile aromatic substances, which affect the sense of smell, and then you can not do without flavors.
They are not marked with the “E” index, but are divided into three groups: natural (at least one component is extracted from natural raw materials: spices, berries, fruits.); identical to natural (similar to natural, but obtained by chemical synthesis in laboratories); artificial (not having natural analogues).
It is clear that the first group is preferable.
So, you see, reading labels is a useful process.
It allows, firstly, to make sure that far from all modern food is a bane, and secondly to choose those products whose composition does not cause you questions.
Why do we need food supplements
- E 100-182 — dyes, give, enhance or restore color.
- E 200-299 — preservatives, increase shelf life.
- E 300-399– antioxidants, slow down oxidation and increase shelf life.
- Е 400-499– stabilizers and thickeners, regulate the consistency of the product; emulsifiers, do not allow mixtures to exfoliate.
- E 500-599– acidity regulators, change the pH of products; anti-caking agents to avoid lumps in food.
- E 600-699 — amplifiers of taste and smell.
- E 700-899– reserved rooms.
- E 900-999 — sweeteners; baking powder, increase the volume of the test; defoamers, reduce foaming.
- E 1000-1999 — other substances, including moisture-holding agents, that do not allow the product to dry; glazing — form a protective layer; fillers (increase volume); thickeners (increase viscosity).