Additives and Preservatives

Additives are defined by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as "any substance, the intended use of which results or may reasonably be expected to result, directly or indirectly, in its becoming a component or otherwise affecting the characteristics of any food." In other words, an additive is any substance that is added to food. Direct additives are those that are intentionally added to foods for a specific purpose. Indirect additives are those to which the food is exposed during processing, packaging, or storing. Preservatives are additives that inhibit the growth of bacteria, yeasts, and molds in foods.

Additives and preservatives have been used in foods for centuries. When meats are smoked to preserve them, compounds such as butylated hydroxy-anisole (BHA) and butyl gallate are formed and provide both antioxidant and bacteriostatic effects. Salt has also been used as a preservative for centuries. Salt lowers the water activity of meats and other foods and inhibits bacterial growth. Excess water in foods can enhance the growth of bacteria, yeast, and fungi. Pickling, which involves the addition of acids such as vinegar, lowers the pH of foods to levels that retard bacterial growth. Some herbs and spices, such as curry, cinnamon, and chili pepper, also contain antioxidants and may provide bactericidal effects.

bacteria: single-celled organisms without nuclei, some of which are infectious antioxidant: substance that prevents oxidation, a damaging reaction with oxygen bacteriostatic: a state that prevents growth of bacteria pH: level of acidity, with low numbers indicating high acidity bactericidal: a substance that kills bacteria

The Miracle Of Vinegar

The Miracle Of Vinegar

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