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

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



Function Add sweetness with or without the extra calories
Applications Beverages, baked goods, confections, table-top sugar, substitutes, many processed foods
Ingredients Sucrose (sugar), glucose, fructose, sorbitol, mannitol, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium (acesulfame-K), neotame


Food Coloring

Function Offset 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
Applications Many processed foods, (candies, snack foods margarine, cheese, soft drinks, jams/jellies, gelatins, pudding and pie fillings)
Ingredients FD&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

Function Add specific flavors (natural and synthetic)
Applications Pudding and pie fillings, gelatin dessert mixes, cake mixes, salad dressings, candies, soft drinks, ice cream, BBQ sauce
Ingredients Natural flavoring, artificial flavor, and spices


Flavor Enhancers

Function Enhance flavors already present in foods (without providing their own separate flavor)
Applications Many processed foods
Ingredients Monosodium glutamate (MSG), hydrolyzed soy protein, autolyzed yeast extract, disodium guanylate or inosinate


Fat Replacers

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


Nutritional Supplements

Function Replace vitamins and minerals lost in processing (enrichment), add nutrients that may be lacking in the diet (fortification)
Applications Flour, breads, cereals, rice, macaroni, margarine, salt, milk, fruit beverages, energy bars, instant breakfast drinks
Ingredients Thiamine 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

Function Allow smooth mixing of ingredients, prevent separation

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

Applications Salad dressings, peanut butter, chocolate, margarine, frozen desserts
Ingredients Soy lecithin, mono- and diglycerides, egg yolks, polysorbates, sorbitan monostearate


Food Thickeners and Stabilizers

Function Produce uniform texture, improve “mouth-feel”
Applications Frozen desserts, dairy products, cakes, pudding and gelatin mixes, dressings, jams and jellies, sauces
Ingredients Gelatin, pectin, guar gum, carrageenan, xanthan gum, whey


Acidity Regulators

Function Control acidity and alkalinity, prevent spoilage
Applications Beverages, frozen desserts, chocolate, low acid canned foods, baking powder
Ingredients Lactic acid, citric acid, ammonium hydroxide, sodium carbonate


Food Bulking Agents

Function Promote rising of baked goods
Applications Breads and other baked goods
Ingredients Baking soda, monocalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate


Anti Caking Agents

Function Keep powdered foods free-flowing, prevent moisture absorption
Applications Salt, baking powder, confectioner’s sugar
Ingredients Calcium silicate, iron ammonium citrate, silicon dioxide



Function Retain moisture
Applications Shredded coconut, marshmallows, soft candies, confections
Ingredients Glycerin, sorbitol


Yeast Nutrients

Function Promote growth of yeast
Applications Breads and other baked goods
Ingredients Calcium sulfate, ammonium phosphate


Dough Strengtheners and Conditioners

Function Produce more stable dough
Applications Breads and other baked goods
Ingredients Ammonium sulfate, azodicarbonamide, L-cysteine


Firming Agents

Function Maintain crispness and firmness
Applications Processed fruits and vegetables
Ingredients Calcium chloride, calcium lactate


Food Enzymes

Function Modify proteins, polysaccharides and fats
Applications Cheese, dairy products, meat
Ingredients Enzymes, lactase, papain, rennet, chymosin



Function Serve as propellant, aerate, or create carbonation
Applications Oil cooking spray, whipped cream, carbonated beverages
Ingredients Carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide

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