Latest Research News on Food additives : Mar 2022

Natural food additives: Quo vadis

In a time where the public is more aware and interested with what they eat, natural additives have been gaining interest both from the food industries and the consumers. Some studies show that consumers prefer food prepared with natural additives rather than chemical ones, due to health reasons. Although quite promising, natural additives still face some drawbacks and limitations as well as conflicting information. In this manuscript, the most important natural additives are overviewed, as well as their use, benefits and risks. The future of these molecules along with new types of additives is also summarized.[1]

Adding Molecules to Food, Pros and Cons: A Review on Synthetic and Natural Food Additives

The pressing issue to feed the increasing world population has created a demand to enhance food production, which has to be cheaper, but at the same time must meet high quality standards. Taste, appearance, texture, and microbiological safety are required to be preserved within a foodstuff for the longest period of time. Although considerable improvements have been achieved in terms of food additives, some are still enveloped in controversy. The lack of uniformity in worldwide laws regarding additives, along with conflicting results of many studies help foster this controversy. In this report, the most important preservatives, nutritional additives, coloring, flavoring, texturizing, and miscellaneous agents are analyzed in terms of safety and toxicity. Natural additives and extracts, which are gaining interest due to changes in consumer habits are also evaluated in terms of their benefits to health and combined effects. Technologies, like edible coatings and films, which have helped overcome some drawbacks of additives, but still pose some disadvantages, are briefly addressed.[2]

Toxicological Aspects of Antioxidants Used as Food Additives

The toxicology of antioxidants has become one of the more controversial areas in the continuing debate on the safety of food additives. In recent years, problems have arisen with the antioxidants butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) & butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) when new long-term studies showed that these compounds could produce tumours in animals. Chemicals which have been shown to cause cancer in long-term animal studies are normally not permitted as food additives, & regulatory authorities would have little hesitation in making such a decision in the case of any new chemical submitted to them for approval which appeared to be a genotoxic carcinogen. However, with BHA & BHT, not only did the new findings conflict with the results of earlier, negative, long-term studies, but also their significance for hazard assessment in man was surrounded by even more uncertainties than those which toxicologists are used to considering when extrapolating from animal experiments to man.[3]

Food Additives

This chapter presents various definitions of food additives provided by food safety law, Codex Alimentarius, European Union, United States, and Japan. Food additives generally have the following characteristics, they are the substances added to food and cannot be consumed alone as food themselves, they include synthetic substances as well as natural substances and the purpose of addition is to improve the quality, color, fragrance, flavor of food, and to meet the demands of preservation, freshness and processing. The chapter explains the functional classification and effects of food additives, principles for the use of food additives and the effects of food additives in the modern food industry. In order to standardize the use of food additives, the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and the Codex Committee on Food Additives (CCFA) were established internationally in 1955 and 1962, respectively. Finally, the chapter talks about the development trend of food additives in the future.[4]

Primary mutagenicity screening of food additives currently used in Japan

Salmonella/microsome tests (Ames tests) and chromosomal aberration tests in vitro using a Chinese hamster fibroblast cell line were carried out on 190 synthetic food additives and 52 food additives derived from natural sources, all of which are currently used in Japan. Fourteen out of 200 tested in the Ames assay showed positive effects and 54 out of 242 were positive in the chromosome test. Three additives (erythorbic acid, chlorine dioxide and beet red) were positive only in the Ames test, although their mutagenic potentials were relatively weak, while 43 additives were positive only in the chromosome test. Eleven additives (calcium hypochlorite, cinnamic aldehyde, l-cysteine monohydrochloride, Food Green No. 3 (Fast Green FCF), hydrogen peroxide, potassium bromate, sodium chlorite, sodium hypochlorite, sodium nitrite, cacao pigment and caramel) were positive in both the Ames test and the chromosome test. The usefulness of such primary screening tests combining two different genetic end-points, gene mutation and chromosomal aberration, and some correlation between mutagenicity and carcinogenicity of food additives are discussed.[5]


[1] Carocho, M., Morales, P. and Ferreira, I.C., 2015. Natural food additives: Quo vadis?. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 45(2), pp.284-295.

[2] Carocho, M., Barreiro, M.F., Morales, P. and Ferreira, I.C., 2014. Adding molecules to food, pros and cons: A review on synthetic and natural food additives. Comprehensive reviews in food science and food safety, 13(4), pp.377-399.

[3] Barlow, S.M., 1990. Toxicological aspects of antioxidants used as food additives. In Food antioxidants (pp. 253-307). Springer, Dordrecht.

[4] Sun, B. and Wang, J., 2017. Food additives. Food Safety in China: Science, Technology, Management and Regulation, pp.186-200.

[5] Ishidate Jr, M., Sofuni, T., Yoshikawa, K., Hayashi, M., Nohmi, T., Sawada, M. and Matsuoka, A., 1984. Primary mutagenicity screening of food additives currently used in Japan. Food and chemical toxicology, 22(8), pp.623-636.

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