Chemicals are added to food for (i) their preservation, (ii) enhancing their appeal, and (iii) adding nutritive value in them.
Enrich Your Learning:
Chemicals in the food:
Main categories of food additives are as follows:
- Food colours
- Flavours and sweeteners
- Fat emulsifiers and stabilising agents
- Flour improvers – antistaling agents and bleaches
- Nutritional supplements such as minerals, vitamins and amino acids. Except for chemicals of category
These are added either to increase the shelf life of stored food or for cosmetic purposes.
Artificial Sweetening Agents:
- Natural sweeteners, e.g., sucrose add to calorie intake and therefore many people prefer to use artificial sweeteners.
- Ortho-sulphobenzimide, also called saccharin, is the first popular artificial sweetening agent.
- It has been used as a sweetening agent ever since it was discovered in 1879.
- It is about 550 times as sweet as cane sugar.
- It is excreted from the body in urine unchanged.
- It appears to be entirely inert and harmless when taken.
- Its use is of great value to diabetic persons and people who need to control intake of calories.
- Aspartame is the most successful and widely used artificial sweetener.
- It is roughly 100 times as sweet as cane sugar.
- It is methyl ester of dipeptide formed from aspartic acid and phenylalanine.
- Use of aspartame is limited to cold foods and soft drinks because it is unstable at cooking temperature.
- Alitame is high potency sweetener, although it is more stable than aspartame, the control of sweetness of food is difficult while using it.
- Sucralose is trichloro derivative of sucrose. Its appearance and taste are like sugar. It is stable at cooking temperature. It does not provide calories.
- Food preservatives prevent spoilage of food due to microbial growth.
- The most commonly used preservatives include table salt, sugar, vegetable oils and sodium benzoate, C6H5COONa.
- Sodium benzoate is used in limited quantities and is metabolised in the body.
- Salts of sorbic acid and propanoic acid are also used as preservatives.