Food additives: classification of substances and their scope

Food additives are a special type of chemical. They are added to food for specific purposes. They have various properties, for example, they ensure food safety, prolong the maximum period of their use in food and storage, improve smell, taste, and retain their original color and texture better.

In the European Union, to designate food additives in food, special combinations of numbers are used, before which the letter E must be indicated. The use of such an abbreviation means that the food additive has passed a rigorous procedure for assessing the impact on human health, and it is officially allowed to be used in the food industry in Europe.

The use of an alphanumeric abbreviation avoids the use of long names of food additives when printing packaging. This innovation made it possible to increase the degree of informing the buyer about the composition.

All nutritional supplements can be divided into 2 main groups. Nutritional supplements are made from organic raw materials, that is, natural. This is carrageenan, agar-agar extracted from algae. This group also includes pectin, the basis for which are fruits, as well as gelatin, it is obtained from raw materials of animal origin.

Food additives of synthetic origin are divided into 2 groups:

• Artificial. These substances have no analogues in nature.

• Synthesized by man. These types of nutritional supplements are made chemically, but they are also found in natural ingredients.

Is the use of such additives permissible in modern food processing plants? Is it possible or not to eat food that contains a lot of E-nis?

First, nutritional supplements have been used by humans for many years. We do not mean modern complex chemical complexes, which became known only recently. We are talking about elementary substances, the names of which are familiar - these are acids (lactic, citric and acetic), salt, seasonings and spices.

The nuance of using this kind of substances lies only in the fact that until the middle of the last century, products of natural origin were used as food additives in almost 100% of cases. But the rapid development of the food chemistry industry has led to the fact that most of the natural substances are replaced by synthetic ones for uninterrupted industrial production.

How are supplements classified by purpose?

We have already figured out the very concept of food additives and what they are. But their classification by origin is only one of the possible options for their separation. They can also be divided into separate types according to their purpose.

According to the main classification of food additives, they are divided into the following types:

• preservatives;

• dyes;

• antioxidants;

• stabilizers;

• pH regulators, disintegrants, emulsifiers and anti-caking agents;

• enhancers of taste and odorants;

• antibiotics;

• reserve substances;

• defoaming and glazing components, waxes, sweeteners, foaming agents, components for improving culinary products from flour and gases;

• enzymes, starches, solvents and biological catalysts.

In Ukraine, the aforementioned additives are used in enterprises producing various types of food products. But before you start actively using them, it is worthwhile to understand in more detail in which cases the use is appropriate and what are the specifics of their impact.

How do supplements work on internal organs?

There is no single correct answer to this question, because the body of each person is individual and is able to react to one or another component in completely different ways. If we are talking about the benefits for human health, then from the use of a number of nutritional supplements, it is definitely there. A number of nutritional supplements have been shown to be effective on tumors and internal inflammation, which we will discuss later. They are also able to improve the functioning of the reproductive system, strengthen nails, make the skin healthier, and the hair - stronger and more well-groomed.

As for food additives and their effect on the human body, there are also disadvantages from their use. It can be:

• inflammation;

• allergic reactions;

• problems in the functioning of the respiratory system;

• colic in the liver;

• increased blood cholesterol;

• severe fatigue;


nausea and vomiting;

• numbness of the fingers;

• stimulation of the growth of cancer cells;

• redness of the skin of the face;

• deterioration of the general psychoemotional state.

To avoid the appearance of a negative reaction of the body to food additives depends on how strictly the manufacturer adheres to the rules and regulations for the use of these substances.


What are dyes? This is a group of food additives that are used to color food products at different stages of production in the desired color. With the help of high-quality dyes, you can restore the original color of the product, which was lost during its preliminary processingswelling, as well as enhance its brightness, making the products look more appetizing.

Colorants come in liquid and powder form. In food industry enterprises, dyes of natural and artificial origin are equally often used. One of the most popular among manufacturers is calcium carbonate (it is known to the consumer under the abbreviation E170).

What can serve as a natural source for obtaining dyes? This is, first of all, the plant base and animal raw materials. These types of dyes are obtained by direct physical action on the starting material. They contain safe natural ingredients that have a positive effect on the appearance, taste and aroma of food.

The synthetic type of dyes is used in the modern food industry much more often than natural. It features more intense brightness, increased concentration, longer shelf life and increased formula stability when exposed to environmental factors.

Synthetic dyes are obtained exclusively in laboratories in the course of chemical reactions - such substances do not occur in the natural environment. The most common type of synthetic dye is sodium salts. These substances are highly soluble in water, therefore, production processes with their use are greatly facilitated. There are also insoluble synthetic dyes - these are aluminum pigments and varnishes.

Why are artificial colors so popular in the food industry? It is much easier to buy food colors of synthetic origin, because their price is much more affordable than natural ones. But the low cost often hides the harm to human health that these types of dyes can cause. Among them there are those that are generally prohibited for use.


What are preservatives? This is a special type of food additives used to inhibit the reproduction process and, in general, the functioning of microorganisms in different types of food products. Preservatives prevent the appearance of mold on food, deterioration of the taste and smell of food, do not allow the formation of compounds toxic to human health in food - the consequences of the active process of vital activity of pathogenic microflora.

Natural preservatives have been actively used by humans for many thousands of years - they include salt, vinegar, alcohol and many others. The most popular types of preservatives today are antibiotics, as well as some other types of food additives.

At the moment, in the process of manufacturing products, manufacturers prefer synthetic preservatives, rather than natural ones - their action is most effective, and the price is more affordable. But it is worth remembering that it is forbidden to add them to some types of products. This primarily concerns baby food, fresh meat, milk, bread and flour.


Food additives are essential to combat unwanted oxidation processes that constantly occur in food. Antioxidants make it possible to avoid premature spoilage of fats, because over time they can turn bitter and, accordingly, they prevent the rancidity of the food they contain. Also, antioxidants slow down the souring process of beer, wine and soft drinks, and prevent products made from vegetables, fruits or their mixtures from darkening prematurely.

Popular antioxidants among manufacturers are vitamin C, succinic acid, tocopherols. They do not harm health, but, on the contrary, are good for him. Antioxidants of artificial origin, namely additives from E310 to E312, as well as E320 and E321, can harm a person.

On the packaging of culinary products such types of antioxidants as sodium citrate, sodium isoascorbate, phosphoric and tartaric acids are indicated. Most often, in the manufacture of food products, not one, but several types of antioxidants are used at once in order to achieve maximum results from them.


The main purpose of use is to improve the structure of food and ensure its longer preservation unchanged. It is with the help of thickeners that it is easy to achieve the desired consistency of products, to improve the indicators of its viscosity and plasticity. For example, it is only thanks to thickeners that modern bakery products do not stale for so long.

Almost all types of thickeners used in the food industry are of natural origin. Earlier, we pointed out that this category of additives includes gelatin, pectin, agar, and starches obtained from natural raw materials - corn, potatoes and peas - can also be referred to this category. Also, lecithin is a natural emulsifier - it is a food additive that is obtained from vegetable fats. Lecithin is both a thickener and an antioxidant. Other natural food thickeners include egg white, gum (guar and xanthan).

But in the food industry, along with natural emulsifiers, synthetic ones are also used with might and main. This is sodium tripolyphosphate,which is absolutely not dangerous to human health. With its help, you can fix the color of food products, regulate the level of their acidity. Sodium tripolyphosphate also acts as a complexing agent and antioxidant.

Taste enhancers

The principle of operation of flavor enhancers is very simple. They contain a large amount of nucleoside phosphates - these are special components that stimulate the work of the endings of taste buds and enhance the perception of taste in humans. During the processing and transportation of food products, the amount of natural nucleoside phosphates in them decreases - in this case, it is more than advisable to buy flavor enhancers.

A striking example of this type of food additives is ethyl maltol and maltol. They enhance human perception of fruity and creamy aromas. Additives that enhance the sweet taste are glucose, fructose, and saccharin.

It is impossible not to mention such an enhancer of taste and aroma as monosodium glutamate. It is included in most snacks, seasonings, sauces. A substance such as ribotide, which contains sodium guanylate and sodium inosinate, is also in demand among manufacturers.


Additives are needed to improve the taste and smell of food. They also come in natural, identical to natural and synthetic origin. The first category of flavorings may contain only natural flavorings. As for the second category of flavors, namely those that are identical to natural ones, they are isolated both from the organic type of raw materials and by chemical synthesis. The third category of flavors includes those that contain at least 1 artificial component.

Such food additives can be bought in the form of a paste, powder or solution - the concentration of the active substance in them is usually no more than 20%. The rest of the product is the carrier of the aroma composition itself.

What food additives are allowed in our country?

Back in 1999, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine approved an exhaustive list of food additives that can be used in the manufacture of various types of food products. All those additives that are not on the list are prohibited from using.

Together with this document, it is worth being guided by the provisions of the sanitary rules and norms for the use of food additives, which were approved by the Ministry of Health in 1996. According to this document, the use of new food additives, as well as changing the conditions of administration and dosage of previously used substances are allowed only in certain cases. For example, if it is impossible to solve the problem faced by the manufacturer with the help of other means, namely:

• keep the nutritional value of food products and their natural properties unchanged;

• improve the organoleptic properties of products;

• extend the shelf life of food products;

• to enhance the stability of the consistency and composition of food and to maximize its quality parameters;

• improve the preparatory processes for food production;

• improve the process of handling, packaging, packaging, transporting and storing food.

But the producers themselves should be more responsible and attentive. Nutritional supplements are not a way out of the situation if you are producing products that are already of poor quality. They should not mislead the buyer with regard to the quality of the goods, not hide the shortcomings of the raw materials used in the production.

It is also forbidden to use different types of food additives, even officially permitted in our country, in order to conceal from the buyer premature spoilage of products, use of defective or expired raw materials.

The text of the Sanitary Rules and Regulations also indicates which additives can be used, what their maximum allowable dosages are and how to obtain official approval for their use in factories and plants.

It is only important to remember that the control over the very quality of food additives and their use by domestic legislation is by no means ideal - there are a lot of inaccuracies in it. For example, there are enough additives that can be applied. But there are also such food additives, the harm and benefits of which have not been studied in detail. It is possible that they are capable of provoking the development of various diseases in the body. Therefore, it is important not only to comply with legislative norms, but also to monitor compliance with all technological nuances of their application in order to minimize any risks.

Remember that it is difficult to hold a manufacturer liable if its products and their constituent food additives are harmful to health. It will take a lot of time and effort to establish a causal relationship between the use of food and poor health. To do this, you will need to go through a doctor's examination, obtain an official medical report from him, and also provide a check in court that confirms that you purchased this product.

Moreover, unscrupulous manufacturers go to all sorts of tricks to hide the usef during the production of prohibited or harmful food additives. Most likely, you will not even find a mention of them in the composition indicated on the label. In this case, you will still have to spend time and money to conduct an independent examination of food products, the use of which has worsened your health.

Are there supplements that are beneficial to humans?

Many consumers even take the very term "food additives" with extreme caution, considering these substances dangerous to humans. In fact, both those who think so and those who do not think so are right. Of course, among food additives there are many that carry risks for humans, but there are also those that are not only considered harmless, but also beneficial.

The degree of harm of food additives depends, first of all, on how the food storage conditions are observed, how they are packed, how much additives are contained in the composition. If the manufacturer has no problem with this, then eating the product will not cause any harm.

And the outcome will be completely different if the rules for the use of these substances are neglected or incompatible ingredients are combined with each other. In difficult situations, this can lead to general intoxication of the body.

The list of food additives useful for humans is small, but still there. It is worth knowing a little more about these components so that, when you see the familiar abbreviation on the packaging, you know that you can use such products. These additives include:

• Vitamin B12 - in the composition of the product, this substance is indicated under the abbreviation E101. In the human body, this supplement does not accumulate over time, so foods with vitamin B12 in the composition must certainly be present in your diet. It is responsible for improving the condition of nails, skin hair, maintains the normal functioning of the thyroid gland, regulates the functioning of the reproductive system, forms red blood cells and antibodies in the blood.

• Curcumin is a naturally occurring color that is extracted from turmeric. It has a rich yellow color and has an antioxidant effect, prevents the development of tumors and various kinds of inflammation in the body.

• Vitamin E is an important antioxidant for the human body. Its different types are indicated in the composition of food products under the abbreviation from E306 to E309.

• Riboflavin sodium salt is another type of natural color. It is referred to as E106 Supplement and has the same properties as curcumin.

• Lutein is a dye that can improve vision. This supplement is recommended for people with rheumatoid arthritis and stroke.

• Carotene is an orange dye. It also has the properties of a low toxic antioxidant.

• Pectin is a natural type of thickener that promotes better bowel cleansing, lowers cholesterol levels, and removes toxins and toxins from the body.

• Vitamin C is a safe antioxidant for human health, which has a positive effect on the condition of bones and connective tissues, supports normal metabolic processes and increases the body's defenses.

• Iodic acid potassium and calcium - supplements saturate food with iodine, which is vital for the normal functioning of all systems in the human body.

The category of harmless food additives includes substances that regulate the acidity level in food, as well as some types of emulsifiers and additives from other functional groups. But it is important to remember that, although they are considered harmless to humans, still food containing these substances in the composition should be consumed with extreme caution. It is important to pay attention to their dosage, as well as the combination with other types of such supplements.

Harmful food additives

Among food additives, there are both useful, or at least harmless, and harmful. And what is most interesting, most of them are officially approved for use in the food industry. Therefore, with the food in which they are contained, you need to be extremely careful. These substances can provoke the development of allergic reactions, aggravate the course of chronic diseases in the body, and have a carcinogenic effect on the cells of internal organs.

Is it possible to minimize the risks from exposure to such components? Sure you may. The main thing you can do is to avoid excessive use of these types of substances. For each of them, there are certain daily intake rates, which are not recommended to exceed if you want to avoid negative consequences.

Sweeteners, preservatives, and flavor enhancers are almost universally used to prepare food in modern food enterprises. Moreover, even those chemicals that are hazardous to health are allowed for use. It is up to you to decide for yourself whether to consume supplements that are hazardous to your health or not. The only thing is that the manufacturer is obliged to warn the consumer about the presence of such food the composition.

Types of food supplements of natural origin

Earlier, we have already focused on the fact that supplements can be both synthetic and natural. As for substances of natural origin, they are produced by nature itself and have been used for cooking for many centuries, if not millennia.

Modern technical progress has made it possible to significantly expand the list of natural food additives. Conventionally, these substances can be divided into 3 groups:

1. Food supplements of plant origin. This category of substances includes natural dyes and flavors, as well as other components that are contained in fruits and plants in their pure form. For example, citrus fruits contain large amounts of food additive E330, tomatoes - E160 and E101, and algae - E400.

Supplements enter the human body naturally - along with the intake of various plant foods. Most of these substances have a positive effect on health - they reduce the risk of developing certain types of diseases, increase the body's defenses. But some of the herbal supplements, if consumed in large quantities, lead to the development of allergic reactions.

2. Food additives of animal origin - both living organisms themselves and their components serve as raw materials for their production. Emulsifiers are created on the basis of animal fats, and permanent natural dyes are obtained from pigments. As a rule, such food additives are not hazardous to human health. The designation of their presence in food is important, first of all, for vegans and vegetarians.

3. Food additives-minerals - this category of substances includes metal oxides, alkalis and salts. Previously, such additives were mined exclusively from terrestrial minerals, but with the development of chemical technologies, they began to be artificially created.

Both synthetic and natural food additives can be used to make food without harming the health of consumers. The key issue here is only the correct dosage of the substance. After all, even a harmless component applied in an increased volume can become toxic overnight. If the dosages of food additives are observed within the limits recommended by the Ministry of Health, then with 100% certainty it can be argued that they will not harm health.

What foods can contain food additives?

Additives of both natural and synthetic origin are actively used in various segments of the domestic food industry - the processing of meat, fish and dairy products, the manufacture of confectionery and bakery products, in the alcoholic beverage sector.

Modern realities are such that it is easier to find products that contain additives in different proportions than products that do not contain them at all. Of course, most of the E-supplements are included in non-alcoholic and low-alcohol drinks, sauces, confectionery, but the list is not limited to this. Supplements are found in almost every product you see on store shelves.

But there are also those additives that can harm a person. Thanks to various scientific studies, it has long been known that certain food products most often contain not at all useful, but even dangerous food additives of artificial origin. We are talking, of course, about sausages, smoked meats, crackers, potato chips, French fries, chewing gums, sauces, sweets - chocolate, yoghurts, ice cream, sweet carbonated drinks. Some of these products can hardly be called food - more than half of their weight are not natural ingredients, but sugar substitutes, sweeteners, stabilizers, emulsifiers, dyes, antioxidants, etc.

If the use of some of these components can be fully justified by technological requirements, then there are also those additives that are added to food only in order to increase their sales. They do not carry any value or benefit to the consumer, and may even harm him. For example, aspartame is a sugar substitute, or a flavor enhancer - monosodium glutamate. These supplements are not only addictive in humans, but also detrimental to the functioning of brain cells and neurons.

As part of various types of sausages, unscrupulous manufacturers also often introduce components that increase the likelihood of developing diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, allergic reactions, problems with the work of the heart and blood vessels, visual impairment, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cancer. Also, with the help of synthetic food additives, the inherent poor quality of the raw materials used in production is often hidden.

The composition of chewing candies and gum also contains a sufficient amount of food additives that negatively affect the functioning of internal organs, lead to dehydration, increase the level of cold.