Standard definition and main functions of food additives

Abstract: Food additives are synthetic or natural substances added to food for the purpose of improving the color, aroma, and taste of food, as well as for the needs of anti-corrosion and processing technology. Including acidity regulators, anticaking agents, defoamers, antioxidants, bleaching agents, leavening agents, coloring agents, color retention agents, enzyme preparations, flavor enhancers, nutritional fortifiers, preservatives, sweeteners, thickening agents Agents, spices, etc.

Keywords: food additives, food

Related products for this article: Nutrition supplements

Standard definition:


The definition of food additives varies from country to country. The Joint Food Regulatory Commission of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) defines food additives as: food additives are consciously and generally added to food in small amounts to improve the quality of food. Non-nutritive substances in appearance, flavor and texture or storage properties. According to this definition, food fortifiers for the purpose of enhancing the nutritional content of food should not be included in the scope of food additives.

Joint Food Regulatory Commission of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO):

Food additives are non-nutritive substances that are consciously added to food in small amounts to improve the appearance, flavor, tissue structure, or storage properties of the food.

Food additives

EU: Food additives refer to any substances that are artificially added to food for technical purposes during the production, processing, preparation, handling, packaging, transportation or storage of food.

United States: Food additives refer to substances that are intentionally used to cause or expect to cause them to directly or indirectly become food ingredients or affect the characteristics of food.


Food additives have the following three characteristics: one is a substance added to food, therefore, it is generally not eaten as a food alone; second, it includes both artificially synthesized substances and natural substances; third, it is added to food The purpose is to improve food quality and color, aroma and taste, as well as the needs of anti-corrosion, preservation and processing technology!


Food additives ≠ illegal additives

When the public talks about the discoloration of food additives, the more reason is that they confuse the concepts of illegal additives and food additives. It is obviously unfair to deduct some illegal additives on the head of food additives. The “Notice of the General Office of the State Council on Severely Cracking down on Illegal Food Additives and Effectively Strengthening the Supervision of Food Additives” requires the regulation of the production and use of food additives: it is strictly forbidden to use non-edible substances to produce compound food additives, and it is not allowed to purchase food additives with irregular labels and unknown sources , Strictly investigate and deal with the abuse of food additives that exceed the scope and limit, and at the same time require the formulation and publication of general safety standards for compound food additives and food additive labeling standards before the end of 2011.

What needs to be severely cracked down is illegal additions in food, and what urgently needs to be regulated is the production and use of food additives. There are some problems with food additives, such as unknown sources, or improper materials, and the most likely problem is abuse.

Experts remind citizens that there is no need to panic about food additives. With the imminent promulgation of relevant national standards, the production and use of food additives will be more standardized. Of course, you should strengthen your self-protection awareness and learn more about food safety, especially not to buy foods that are too bright in color, too strong in taste, or have an abnormal taste.

Main effect:

Food additives have greatly promoted the development of the food industry and are known as the soul of the modern food industry. This is mainly because it brings many benefits to the food industry. Its main functions are roughly as follows:

  1. Prevent deterioration

For example: preservatives can prevent food spoilage caused by microorganisms, extend the shelf life of food, and also have the effect of preventing food poisoning caused by microbial contamination. Another example: antioxidants can prevent or postpone the oxidative deterioration of food to provide food stability and storage resistance, while also preventing the formation of potentially harmful fats and oils auto-oxidizing substances. In addition, it can also be used to prevent enzymatic browning and non-enzymatic browning of foods, especially fruits and vegetables. These are of certain significance to the preservation of food.

  1. Improve the senses

Improve food sensory properties

Appropriate use of food additives such as coloring agents, color retention agents, bleaching agents, edible fragrances, emulsifiers, thickeners, etc. can significantly improve the sensory quality of food and meet people’s different needs.

  1. Maintain nutrition

Maintain and improve nutritional value

Appropriate addition of certain food nutrition fortifiers that belong to the natural nutrition range during food processing can greatly improve the nutritional value of food, which is of great significance to prevent malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies, promote nutritional balance, and improve people’s health.

  1. Convenient supply

Increase variety and convenience

There are more than 20,000 kinds of foods on the market for consumers to choose from. Although most of these foods are produced through certain packaging and different processing methods, in the production process, some products with complete colors, aromas and tastes are mostly different. Coloring, flavoring, flavoring and even other food additives are added to a certain extent. It is the supply of these numerous foods, especially convenience foods, that bring great convenience to people’s lives and work.

  1. Convenient processing

Convenience food processing

The use of defoamers, filter aids, stabilizers and coagulants in food processing can be beneficial to food processing operations. For example, when glucono delta lactone is used as a tofu coagulant, it can be beneficial to the mechanization and automation of tofu production.

  1. Other

Other special needs

Food should meet the different needs of people as much as possible. For example, if people with diabetes cannot eat sugar, they can use non-nutritive sweeteners or low-calorie sweeteners, such as sucralose or aspartame, to make sugar-free food supplies.

There are also companies that formulate their own standards for additives. Leading companies in the industry do not allow the addition of preservatives, sodium cyclamate, colors, and fragrances.