Some Food Additives Explained

Food additives are used to enhance flavour, texture, shelf-life and nutritional properties of the foods we eat. As consumer interest about this often misunderstood topic continues to thrive, the key facts about a range of food additives are outlined below.
What are food additives? 

Food additives are substances that are added to foods to serve specific technical purposes, and are grouped depending on the function they perform when added to foods, e.g. stabilisers, thickeners, gelling agents, anti-caking agents, glazing agents, packaging gases and propellants.1 Only substances that are not normally consumed as a food in itself and that are not normally used as a characteristic ingredient of food, qualify as additives. In the European Union (EU), three directives establish the list of additives which could be used (to the exclusion of others), the foods in which they could be used and any maximum levels.2-4 Additives approved as safe for use in food are given an E-number (E for Europe), which is also a simple and convenient way to label permitted additives across the range of languages in the EU.
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