First 539 words of the document:
Many packaged foods contain additives. In the UK, there are more than 300 listed additives and more
than 3,000 flavourings. Additives are used to help food keep safe longer, to stop oils and fats going
rancid and to add colour. If additives were not used, we would have fewer food choices, since food would
not last as long, and many lowerfat products would not be available.
There are three groups of additives:
Natural made from natural products such as paprika and beetroot juice.
Nature identical made to the same chemical formula as those extracted from natural products
for example caramel used for colouring.
Artificial made entirely from chemicals, for example saccharin used to sweeten foods.
The ingredients list on a food label shows if any additives are used in the product.
Are additives safe?
Some additives have been used for many years. Potassium nitrate (E251) has been used for curing
bacon and ham, and pectin (E440a) in jammaking. Some people are sensitive to certain additives and
need to avoid them. Tartrazine (E102) used to colour soft drinks, has been linked to food allergies.
Additives used in the UK have been strictly tested. An E number shows that the additive has been
accepted as safe by the countries of the European Union.
Types of additive
Preservatives help food to keep longer so that food can be transported and the storage time is
increased. Preservatives are used in baked goods, soft drinks, bacon and ham and fruit juices.
Antioxidants prolong shelf life, stop fatty food from going rancid and protect fatsoluble
vitamins from combining with oxygen. Antioxidants are used in dried soups, cheese spreads,
and sausages. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is a natural antioxidant that is found in fruit and
prevents other fruit going brown. This is why lemon juice is added to peeled apples.
Colours added to food to make it look more attractive and to replace the colour that might be
lost during processing. During canning, peas and strawberries both turn brown, so colours can
make them look more attractive. Caramel (E150) is the most popular colouring used for gravy
powder, soft drinks and sauces.
Emulsifiers and stabilisers allow fats and oils to mix with water to make lowfat spreads and
salad dressings. They give food a smooth and creamy texture, and improve the shelf life of
baked goods. Lecithin, found in eggs, is a natural emulsifier used in mayonnaise and in lowfat
Intense sweeteners (artificial sweeteners) such as saccharin and aspartame are many times
sweeter than sugar, and only a little is needed. Intense sweeteners help people to eat less
sugar since they are low in calories. They are used for lowcalorie drinks and reducedsugar
Flavourings add flavours to foods, such as vanilla in icecream. A flavour is natural, nature
identical or artificial. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavour enhancer that has no flavour of
its own, but intensifies the flavours of other foods. A small number of people may be allergic to