There are thousands of ingredients during delicious foods processing. These ingredients have served useful functions in all kinds of foods for centuries. Today, consumers demand and enjoy a food supply that is flavorful, nutritious, safe, convenient, colorful and affordable. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains a list of over 3000 food ingredients in its data base “Everything Added to Food in the United States”, many of which we use at home every day. Most of these food additives and ingredients are chemicals or chemical compounds.

Why food ingredients are added during food processing?

1. To Maintain or Improve Food Freshness and Safety:
Food preservatives can slow product spoilage caused by mold, air, bacteria, fungi or yeast. They can maintain food quality and control contamination that can cause foodborne illness. Food antioxidants, one group of preservatives, can prevent edible oils and fats from becoming rancid. They also can prevent cut fresh fruits from turning brown oxidized by air.

2. To Improve or Maintain Nutritional Value:
During many food processes, vitamins and minerals (and dietary fibre) are added to make up for food nutrition enhancement or lost in processing. Such enrichment has helped reduce malnutrition in the world. All food products containing added nutrients must be appropriately labeled.

3. Improve Taste, Texture and Appearance:
Natural and artificial flavors, sweeteners and spices are added to enhance the taste of food. Food colors can improve product appearance. During food processing, emulsifiers, stabilizers and thickeners can give foods the texture and consistency consumers expect. Leavening agents allow baked goods to rise during baking. Some food additives and ingredients can help control the product acidity and alkalinity, while other can help maintain the taste and appeal of foods with reduced fat content.

Food Ingredients List:

Food Preservatives

FunctionPrevent food spoilage from bacteria, molds, fungi, or yeast (antimicrobials); slow or prevent changes in color, flavor, or texture and delay rancidity (antioxidants); maintain freshness
ApplicationsFruit sauces and jellies, beverages, baked goods, cured meats, oils and margarines, cereals, dressings, snack foods, fruits and vegetables
IngredientsAscorbic acid, citric acid, sodium benzoate, calcium propionate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, calcium sorbate, potassium sorbate, BHA, BHT, EDTA, tocopherols (Vitamin E)



FunctionAdd sweetness with or without the extra calories
ApplicationsBeverages, baked goods, confections, table-top sugar, substitutes, many processed foods
IngredientsSucrose (sugar), glucose, fructose, sorbitol, mannitol, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium (acesulfame-K), neotame


Food Coloring

FunctionOffset color loss due to exposure to light, air, temperature extremes, moisture and storage conditions; correct natural variations in color; enhance colors that occur naturally; provide color to colorless and “fun” foods
ApplicationsMany processed foods, (candies, snack foods margarine, cheese, soft drinks, jams/jellies, gelatins, pudding and pie fillings)
IngredientsFD&C Blue Nos. 1 and 2, FD&C Green No. 3, FD&C Red Nos. 3 and 40, FD&C Yellow Nos. 5 and 6, Orange B, Citrus Red No. 2, annatto extract, beta-carotene, grape skin extract, cochineal extract or carmine, paprika oleoresin, caramel color, fruit and vegetable juices, saffron (Note: Exempt color additives are not required to be declared by name on labels but may be declared simply as colorings or color added)


Flavors and Spices

FunctionAdd specific flavors (natural and synthetic)
ApplicationsPudding and pie fillings, gelatin dessert mixes, cake mixes, salad dressings, candies, soft drinks, ice cream, BBQ sauce
IngredientsNatural flavoring, artificial flavor, and spices


Flavor Enhancers

FunctionEnhance flavors already present in foods (without providing their own separate flavor)
ApplicationsMany processed foods
IngredientsMonosodium glutamate (MSG), hydrolyzed soy protein, autolyzed yeast extract, disodium guanylate or inosinate


Fat Replacers

FunctionProvide expected texture and a creamy “mouth-feel” in reduced-fat foods
ApplicationsBaked goods, dressings, frozen desserts, confections, cake and dessert mixes, dairy products
IngredientsOlestra, cellulose gel, carrageenan, polydextrose, modified food starch, microparticulated egg white protein, guar gum, xanthan gum, whey protein concentrate


Nutritional Supplements

FunctionReplace vitamins and minerals lost in processing (enrichment), add nutrients that may be lacking in the diet (fortification)
ApplicationsFlour, breads, cereals, rice, macaroni, margarine, salt, milk, fruit beverages, energy bars, instant breakfast drinks
IngredientsThiamine hydrochloride, riboflavin (Vitamin B2), niacin, niacinamide, folate or folic acid, beta carotene, potassium iodide, iron or ferrous sulfate, alpha tocopherols, ascorbic acid, Vitamin D, amino acids (L-tryptophan, L-lysine, L-leucine, L-methionine)


Food Emulsifiers

FunctionAllow smooth mixing of ingredients, prevent separation

Keep emulsified products stable, reduce stickiness, control crystallization, keep ingredients dispersed, and to help products dissolve more easily

ApplicationsSalad dressings, peanut butter, chocolate, margarine, frozen desserts
IngredientsSoy lecithin, mono- and diglycerides, egg yolks, polysorbates, sorbitan monostearate


Food Thickeners and Stabilizers

FunctionProduce uniform texture, improve “mouth-feel”
ApplicationsFrozen desserts, dairy products, cakes, pudding and gelatin mixes, dressings, jams and jellies, sauces
IngredientsGelatin, pectin, guar gum, carrageenan, xanthan gum, whey


Acidity Regulators

FunctionControl acidity and alkalinity, prevent spoilage
ApplicationsBeverages, frozen desserts, chocolate, low acid canned foods, baking powder
IngredientsLactic acid, citric acid, ammonium hydroxide, sodium carbonate


Food Bulking Agents

FunctionPromote rising of baked goods
ApplicationsBreads and other baked goods
IngredientsBaking soda, monocalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate


Anti Caking Agents

FunctionKeep powdered foods free-flowing, prevent moisture absorption
ApplicationsSalt, baking powder, confectioner’s sugar
IngredientsCalcium silicate, iron ammonium citrate, silicon dioxide



FunctionRetain moisture
ApplicationsShredded coconut, marshmallows, soft candies, confections
IngredientsGlycerin, sorbitol


Yeast Nutrients

FunctionPromote growth of yeast
ApplicationsBreads and other baked goods
IngredientsCalcium sulfate, ammonium phosphate


Dough Strengtheners and Conditioners

FunctionProduce more stable dough
ApplicationsBreads and other baked goods
IngredientsAmmonium sulfate, azodicarbonamide, L-cysteine


Firming Agents

FunctionMaintain crispness and firmness
ApplicationsProcessed fruits and vegetables
IngredientsCalcium chloride, calcium lactate


Food Enzymes

FunctionModify proteins, polysaccharides and fats
ApplicationsCheese, dairy products, meat
IngredientsEnzymes, lactase, papain, rennet, chymosin



FunctionServe as propellant, aerate, or create carbonation
ApplicationsOil cooking spray, whipped cream, carbonated beverages
IngredientsCarbon dioxide, nitrous oxide

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