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Types of Food Additives (Preservatives ,Anti-Oxidants ,Sweeteners ,Food Colourings, Flavourings, Stabilisers & Emulsifiers)

by Shruti Sona

Last updated on Jan 5, 2020

The previous post in this chapter Introduction to Food Additives

The list of Food Additives is longer but we are covering only those which are most common and are in our syllabus. Which are:-

  • Preservatives
  • Anti-Oxidants
  • Sweeteners
  • Food Colourings
  • Flavourings
  • Stabilisers & Emulsifiers


You can either go through the text (below the video) or just watch this interesting video on Preservatives

Preservative, in foods, any of numerous chemical additives used to prevent or retard spoilage caused by chemical changes, e.g., oxidation or the growth of mould. Along with emulsifying and stabilizing agents, preservatives also help to maintain freshness of appearance and consistency.

Natural Food Preservatives:

Sugar and salt are the earliest natural food preservatives that very efficiently drop the growth of bacteria in food. To preserve meat and fish, salt is still used as a natural food preservative. Alcohol and Vinegar are also common food preservatives.

Examples of chemical food preservatives are:
  • Benzoates (such as sodium benzoate, benzoic acid)
  • Nitrites (such as sodium nitrite)
  • Sulphites (such as sulphur dioxide)
  • Sorbates (such as sodium sorbate, potassium sorbate.


Same again, you can either go through the text (below the video) or just watch this interesting video on Anti-Oxidant

Oxidation is a real problem for food products. Oxidation, for example, causes raw apples and potatoes go brown, but this can be prevented in the kitchen by adding lemon juice. It’s very effective because lemon juice contains a very strong antioxidant – ascorbic acid or vitamin C (E300). By preventing or slowing down the oxidation process in foods, waste through spoilage is reduced.

Antioxidants are used as food additives to preserve food for a longer period of time. Antioxidants act as oxygen scavengers as the presence of oxygen in the food helps the bacteria to grow that ultimately harm the food.

Antioxidants Food Additives List (No need to memorise the entire list just a few names would be enough for exams and that’s too without codes given in left)

E300 – Ascorbic acid
E301 – Sodium ascorbate
E302 – Calcium ascorbate
E304 – Fatty acid esters of ascorbic acid
E306 – Tocopherols
E307 – Alpha-tocopherol
E308 – Gamma-tocopherol
E309 – Delta-tocopherol
E310 – Propyl gallate
E311 – Octyl gallate
E312 – Dodecyl gallate
E315 – Erythorbic acid
E316 – Sodium erythorbate
E312 – Dodecyl gallate
E319 – Tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ)
E320 – Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
E321 – Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
E330 – Citric Acid
E586 – 4-Hexylresorcinol


Oh no!! No Video
Don’t worry its too simple…(You know a lot already)..

sugar substitute is a food additive that provides a sweet taste like that of sugar while containing significantly less food energy. Some sugar substitutes are produced by nature, and others produced synthetically. Those that are not produced by nature are, in general, called artificial sweeteners.

Uses for artificial sweeteners

  • Artificial sweeteners are widely used for special situations like
    • Diabetes management: Unlike sugar, artificial sweeteners generally don’t raise blood sugar levels because they are not carbohydrates. But it’s important to always check with your doctor or dietitian about using any sugar substitutes if you have diabetes
    • Weight control: Artificial sweeteners have virtually no calories which make them appealing to include in weight loss diets. Also, you need only a fraction as compared to the regular sugar. However, the type and amount of sweetener to be used needs to be checked with a doctor or a dietitian
    • Avoiding tooth decay: Sweeteners also do not contribute to tooth decay, as they are not broken down to acid by bacteria in the mouth

Common Sweeteners Approved for Use in India by FSSAI (Indian regulatory body):

The 4 most common artificial sweeteners used in the food industry are Aspartame, Acesulphame K2, Saccharin and Sucralose.

Aspartame is a high-intensity, artificial, non-nutritive sweetener which is being marketed under various brand names like Equal, Nutrasweet, Spoonful, Indulge, Equal-Measure etc. Aspartame can be found in a variety of products like instant breakfasts, gelatin desserts, soft drinks, beverages, tabletop sweeteners, cereals, laxatives, tea beverages, sugar-free chewing gums etc.

Acesulfame potassium is a calorie-free sugar substitute (artificial sweetener), also known as Acesulfame K. Acesulfame K is 200 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar), as sweet as aspartame, about 2/3 as sweet as saccharin, and 1/3 as sweet as sucralose. In carbonated drinks, it is almost always used in conjunction with another sweetener, such as aspartame or sucralose.

Over the last century, Saccharin and its salts have been used in a variety of beverages, foods, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Its primary function is to provide sweetness without adding calories.

Sucralose is an artificial sweetener which can be used in baking or in products that require a longer shelf life. Sucralose is used as a replacement for, or in combination with, other artificial or natural sweeteners, such as aspartame, acesulfame potassium or high-fructose corn syrup.

Also, there are sugar alcohols like sorbitol, Mannitol and Xylitol which provide lesser calories and are less sweet than sugar. They are mostly used to sweeten commercial foods labelled sugar-free or no added sugar.

There are different sets of regulations for use of artificial sweeteners in different foods as per FSSAI (Indian regulatory body).

While artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes may help with weight management, they should be used only in moderation. Often, natural sweeteners are promoted as healthier options than processed table sugar or other sugar substitutes. However, even these often undergo processing and refining. Eg. include fruit juices and nectars, honey, molasses, and maple syrup.

Just because a food is marketed as sugar-free doesn’t mean it’s free of calories. If you eat too many sugar-free foods, you can still gain weight if they have other ingredients that contain calories. Intake of artificial sweeteners in moderation under the guidance of a doctor or a dietitian is the key.

Food Colours

Same again, you can either go through the text (below the video) or just watch this interesting video on Food Colours.

Food colouring, or colour additive, is any dye, pigment or substance that imparts colour when it is added to food or drink. They come in many forms consisting of liquids, powders, gels, and pastes. Food colouring is used both in commercial food production and in domestic cooking. Food colourants are also used in a variety of non-food applications including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, home craft projects, and medical devices.

FDA is responsible for regulating all colour additives to ensure that foods containing colour additives are safe to eat, contain only approved ingredients and are accurately labelled. Certified colours are synthetically produced (or human-made) and used widely because they impart an intense, uniform colour, are less expensive and blend more easily to create a variety of hues.

Color is added to food for one or more of the following reasons:
(1) to replace colour lost during processing,
(2) to enhance colour already present,
(3) to minimize batch-to-batch variations, and
(4) to colour otherwise uncoloured food.

Color additives are categorized as either dyes or lakes.

Dyes dissolve in water and are manufactured as powders, granules, liquids or other special-purpose forms. They can be used in beverages, dry mixes, baked goods, dairy products, jams, pudding, pie filling, yoghurt, popsicles, pet foods and a variety of other products.

Lakes are the water-insoluble form of the dye. Lakes are more stable than dyes and are ideal for colouring products containing fats and oils, or items without enough moisture to dissolve dyes. Typical uses include coated tablets, cake and doughnut mixes, cheese, margarine, candy and chewing gums.


Pigment type/ Food Colour Where it’s found Color created
Anthocyanins Dark-colored berries; beets Blue-purple
Canthaxanthin Certain fish; algae Pink/orange
Chlorophyll Leaves of green plants/algae Green
Charcoal Burned wood Gray-black
Cochineal Insects Red-purple
Iron oxide Rusting metal Reddish brown
Paprika Ground chilli peppers Orange-red
Saffron Crocus flowers Orange-yellow
Turmeric Turmeric plant root Bright yellow


Flavouring Agents

Same again, you can either go through the text (below the video) or just watch this interesting video on Flavouring Agents.

Flavouring agents are key food additives with hundreds of varieties of fruit, nut, seafood, spice blends, vegetables and wine which are natural flavouring agents. Besides natural flavours, there are chemical flavours that imitate natural flavours. Some examples of chemical flavouring agents are alcohols that have a bitter and medicinal taste, esters are fruity, ketones and pyrazines provide flavours to caramel, phenolics have a smokey flavour and terpenoids have citrus or pine flavour.

Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011 have described flavouring agents under the head ‘Flavouring Agents and Related Substances’ in the Regulations.

Flavouring agents include flavour substances, flavour extracts or flavour preparations, which are capable of imparting flavouring properties, namely taste or odour or both to food. Flavouring agents may be of following three types:

  • Natural Flavours and Natural Flavouring substances means flavour preparations and single substance respectively, acceptable for human consumption, obtained exclusively by physical processes from vegetables, for human consumption. Examples: spices, fruit juices, eggs, herbs, edible yeast, vegetable juice.
  • Nature-Identical Flavouring Substances means substances chemically isolated from aromatic raw materials or obtained synthetically; they are chemically identical to substances present in natural products intended for human consumption, either processed or not. Example: Vanillin, the main component of vanilla beans which can be produced as a natural or a nature-identical flavouring substance.
  • Artificial Flavouring Substances means those substances which have not been identified in natural products intended for human consumption either processed or not. Example: Ethyl vanillin, which is artificial and smells and tastes like vanillin yet is roughly three times more taste-intensive when added to ice cream, confectionery and baked goods.

MSG (Mono Sodium Glutamate)  is a flavour enhancer. It shall not be added to any food for use by infant below twelve months. There are many foods where MSG is not allowed.

Following are the most commonly used chemicals in food flavouring:

Chemical Odor
Diacetyl, acetyl propionyl, acetoin Buttery
Isoamyl acetate Banana
Benzaldehyde Bitter almond, cherry
Cinnamaldehyde Cinnamon
Ethyl propionate Fruity
Methyl anthranilate Grape
Limonene Orange
Ethyl decadienoate Pear
Allyl hexanoate Pineapple
Ethyl maltol Sugar, cotton candy
Ethylvanillin Vanilla
Methyl salicylate Wintergreen
Manzanate Apple


Stabilisers & Emulsifiers

Same again, you can either go through the text (below the video) or just watch this interesting video on Stabilisers & Emulsifiers.

stabiliser is an additive to food which helps to preserve its structure. Typical uses include preventing oil, water emulsions from separating in products such as salad dressing; preventing ice crystals from forming in frozen food such as ice cream; and preventing fruit from settling in products such as jam, yoghurt and jellies.

Definition of Stabilisers according to Food Processing Technology

“Stabilisers are substances or chemicals that allow food ingredients, which do not mix well, to remain in a homogenous state after blending.”

The following are the most common ones used as stabilisers:

  • alginate
  • agar
  • carrageen
  • cellulose and cellulose derivatives
  • gelatin
  • guar gum
  • gum Arabic
  • locust bean gum
  • pectin
  • starch
  • xanthan gum

Food stabilisers are confused with preservatives. But there is a difference between the two. Stabilisers is used to retain the physical characteristics of the food whereas as preservatives prevent the spoilage of the food. Food stabilisers increase the stability and thickness of the food by binding its large molecules.

Applications of Stabilisers for Food

Stabilisers for food are used in many kinds of products. The most common ones that use the food stabilisers are

  • Ice Cream
  • Margarine
  • Low-fat spreads
  • Dairy products
  • Salad dressings
  • Mayonnaise

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Syllabus BHM207

01 Basic Introduction to Food Safety, Food Hazards & Risks, Contaminants and Food Hygiene

A. General characteristics of Micro-Organisms based on their occurrence and structure.

B. Factors affecting their growth in food (intrinsic and extrinsic)

C. Common foodborne micro-organisms:

a. Bacteria (spores/capsules)

b. Fungi

c. Viruses

d. Parasites

A. Types & Causes of spoilage
B. Sources of contamination

C. Spoilage of different products (milk and milk products, cereals and cereal products, meat, eggs, fruits and vegetables, canned products)

D. Basic principles of food preservation

E. Methods of preservation (High Temperature, Low Temperature, Drying, Preservatives & Irradiation)


A. Fermentation & Role of lactic acid bacteria

B. Fermentation in Foods (Dairy foods, vegetable, Indian foods, Bakery products and alcoholic beverages)

C. Miscellaneous (Vinegar & anti-biotics)


A. Types (Infections and intoxications)

B. Common diseases caused by foodborne pathogens

C. Preventive measures

A. Introduction

B. Types (Preservatives, anti-oxidants, sweeteners, food colours and flavours, stabilizers and emulsifiers)


A. Introduction to Food Standards

B. Types of Food contaminants (Pesticide residues, bacterial toxins mycotoxins, seafood toxins, metallic contaminants, residues from packaging material)

C. Common adulterants in food

D. Method of their detection (basic principle)


A. National – PFA Essential Commodités Act (FPO, MPO etc.)

B. International – Codex Alimentarius, ISO

C. Regulatory Agencies – WTO

D. Consumer Protection Act


A. Introduction to Concept of TQM, GMP and Risk Assessment

B. Relevance of Microbiological standards for food safety

C. HACCP (Basic Principle and implementation)

A. General Principles of Food Hygiene
B. GHP for commodities, equipment, work area and personnel
C. Cleaning and disinfection (Methods and agents commonly used in the hospitality industry)
D. Safety aspects of processing water (uses & standards)
E. Waste Water & Waste disposal


A. Emerging pathogens

B. Genetically modified foods

C. Food labelling

D. Newer trends in food packaging and technology

E. BSE (Bovine Serum Encephthalopathy)