Identifiable on labels by the letter E followed by a 3-digit number, food additives are regularly the subject of criticism and rumours. The editorial takes stock of these additives: how to spot them? Are they dangerous? Can we find it in organic products?
A food additive is a substance which is added to a food for a technological purpose: to improve its conservation, to reduce the phenomena of oxidation, to color foodstuffs, to enhance the taste, etc.
There are several categories of food additives that are recognized according to the 3 digits following the E.
They preserve the taste, smell and color of food by preventing rancidity.
They are present in a large number of products:
They prevent the development of microorganisms.
Here are the most common:
They are used to give more consistency or binder to sauces, mayonnaise or dairy products.
Among them are:
Their role is to prevent the dispersion of one liquid into another. This is the case with oil and water, for example: water is often added to lighten foods rich in fat, but so that the water does not repel fat, an emulsifier is added.
This category includes:
As their name suggests, they give flavor to foods that lack it, but can also enhance one flavor by masking others.
They revive the colors of food or modify them.
Among them are products derived from plants:
Others come from the animal kingdom:
Still others are derived from the mineral:
To be sure that a food additive is safe, the health authorities (the European Food Safety Authority in Europe) study all the toxicological data concerning it.
From these studies on humans and animals, they determine a dose without effects. And for safety, this is further divided by 100 to obtain the acceptable daily intake (ADI), expressed in milligrams per kilo and per day.
Other studies are carried out in parallel to ensure that certain population groups are not likely to exceed the ADI (in particular with the excess of drinks based on aspartame for example).
Despite these precautions, some additives can cause allergic reactions : this is the case of lecithin made from the egg and the red dye from the cochineal, for example.
Many people can also be bothered by glutamates and sulfites.
Yes, no way to escape it! The certified organic products can also contain food additivesContrary to popular belief.
But only 48 additives are allowed against 300 in the conventional diet.
A very large majority of them are of natural, plant, animal or mineral origin, and most of the additives derived from plants come from organic farming.
Only 4 additives are of chemical origin, produced by synthesis.
Here is the list:
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