Additives in Food – Leaving Cert Home Economics

Leaving CertificateHome Economics

  • Additives – Any substance added to food including colourings, flavourings, antioxidants, preservatives, physical conditioning agents and nutritive additives.
  • Antioxidant – A type of additive added to food to prevent oxidative rancidity e.g. vitamin E added to vegetable oils.
  • Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) – An example of an artificial antioxidant made from chemicals and used in stock cubes.
  • Butylated Hydroxytoulene (BHT) – An example of an artificial antioxidant made from chemicals and used in chewing gum.
  • Bulk Sweeteners – Artificial sweeteners used in large amounts to recreate the same level of sweetness as sugar e.g. sorbitol.
  • Colourings – A type of additive. They can be either natural or synthetic and used to improve or replace colour in foods e.g. caramel in gravy.
  • Contamination – The unintentional pollution of food by foreign bodies, either chemical physical or micro-biological.
  • Emulsifier – An emulisifier that has a hydrophylic (water loving) head and a high hydrophobic (water hating) tail. The head attaches to a water based molecule and prevents them from separating, creating an emulsion.
  • Flavourings – A type of additive. They can be either natural or synthetic. They are used to add or replace flavours in food e.g. sugar in tinned beans.
  • Flavour Enhancers – A type of additive that is used to enhance and intensify the flavour within a food. The additive does not have its own flavour. Often used in Chinese food e.g. Monosodium glutamate (MSG).
  • Fortification – The addition of nutrients to a food to increase the amount of nutrients in that food e.g. folic acid or vitamin B2.
  • Functional Food – Any food that contains an added natural ingredient that gives the food a special benefit function e.g. plant sterols used in dairy spreads.
  • Genetically Modified Food (GM) – Foods that have their DNA altered in order to enhance or remove a particular characteristic of a food to increase shelf life.
  • Humectants – An example of a physical conditioning agent added to prevent foods from drying out e.g. mannitol in sweets.
  • Intense Sweeteners – Artificial sweeteners used in slimming diet foods. They have the ability to make the food taste much sweeter than if sugar was added e.g. canderel.
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) – A type of flavour enhancer used in Chinese food.
  • Nutritional Additives – Nutrients (usually vitamins and minerals) that are added into food during processing to increase nutritive value e.g. iron in breakfast cereals.
  • Pesticides – Chemicals that are used to kill insects etc, but can remain on food and harm humans.
  • Physical Conditioning Agents – A type of additive that is added to foods to help improve the texture.
  • Polyphosphates – A type of physical conditioning agent used to prevent lumping of a food when rehydrated e.g. magnesium carbonate in cake mixes.
  • Preservatives – A type of additive, added to foods to reduce spoilage and risk of food poisoning. They are also used to extend the shelf life of a product. They can be natural or synthetic e.g. vinegar in chutney
  • Stabilisers – A type of physical conditioning agent added to stabilise emulsions e.g. guar gum in cakes.
  • Sweeteners – A type of additive which sweeten food. There are natural and artificial sources.
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