General Knowledge

Chemicals used in Food

Chemicals used in Food

❖ Chemicals that are added to food for adding nutritive value, enhancing their appeal and their preservation are called food additives. Some important food additives are food colours, flavours and sweeteners, fat emulsifiers and stabilising agents, flours improvers—antistaling agents and bleaches, preservatives, antioxidants, and nutritional supplements.

❖ These food additives except nutritional supplements increase the shelf life of stored food and are also used for cosmetic purposes. Minerals, vitamins, and amino acids are used as nutritional supplements.

Artificial Sweeteners

❖ Aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, and alitame are some of the examples of artificial sweeteners.

❖ Ortho sulphobenzimide commonly known as saccharin, is the first popular artificial sweetening agent. It is about 550 times as sweet as cane sugar.

❖ Aspartame is used in cold foods and soft drinks, because it is unstable at cooking temperature.

❖ Artificial sweetening agents do not provide calories; therefore, they are used by the people who need to control intake of calories and by diabetic persons.

Food Preservatives

They prevent spoilage of food due to microbial growth. Salt, sugar, and vegetable oils are the most commonly used preservatives. Sodium benzoate is used in limited quantities and is metabolised to hippuric acid and excreted in urine. Salts of propionic acid and sorbic acid are also used as preservatives.

Food Colouring

The chemicals that are used for imparting colour to the food and to increase the eye appeal are called edible colours.

Common Natural Colours

Common natural colours are chlorophyll, saffron, caramel, turmeric, etc. Some important synthetic colours are Indigo, Carmine, Erythrosine, etc.

Chemical in Cosmetics

Coal tar is an important source of various chemicals used in cosmetics such as perfumes, deodorants, creams, nail polish, etc.

Chemical Cosmetics
Acetone Nail polish remover
Benzaldehyde Vaseline, shaving cream, perfume, etc.
Benzoic acid Cream and lotion
Benzyl acetate Perfumes, deodorants, soaps, detergents
Benzyl alcohol Cologne, fibre softer