Exploring the Nature and Science of Food Additives

What are food additives? Here's a really simple definition: Food additives are substances added to food. The list of common food additives includes i Nutrients i Coloring agents i Flavors and flavor enhancers i Preservatives

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Food additives may be natural or synthetic. For example, vitamin C is a natural preservative. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxy-toluene (BHT) are synthetic preservatives. Many people think natural additives are safer than synthetic ingredients, probably because "synthetic" seems synonymous with "chemical," a sort of scary word. Besides, synthetic additives often have names no one can pronounce, much less translate, which makes them even more forbidding.

In fact, every single thing in the world is made of chemicals: your body, the air you breathe, the paper on which this book is printed, and the glasses through which you read it, not to mention every single bite of food you eat and every ounce of beverage you drink.

To ensure your safety, the natural and synthetic food additives used in the United States come only from the group of substances known as the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list.

All additives on the GRAS list i Are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), meaning that agency is satisfied that the additive is safe and effective i Must be used only in specifically limited amounts i Must be used to satisfy a specific need in food products, such as protection against molds i Must be effective, meaning that they must actually maintain freshness and safety i Must be listed accurately on the label

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