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Food Ingredients and Functions



Food is any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink, or that plants absorb, in order to maintain life and growth. An ingredient is a component of a mixture or compound.
Food ingredients are any of the components that are combined to make a particular dish (food). Eg.: To prepare meatball:
Food: Meatball Food ingredients: minced meat, egg, salt, flour, etc.


Animals (Milk, Eggs, Meat, Seafood)


(Fruits, Vegetables, Spices, Flour)

(Flavours, Colours, Additives)

Fermented (Bacteria, Enzymes)


ANIMAL - Eggs Binder Emulsifier Glaze

PLANT - Flour
Thickening agent SYNTHETIC Additives Sweeteners FERMENTED Bacteria Ripening agent

Eggs: Binder
Meatball Egg is used as a binding agent when mixing several ingredients together to form such items as meatloaf. The egg binder helps to hold the ingredient mixture in the prescribed shape.

Eggs: Emulsifier
Mayonnaise mix and stabilize ingredients such as oil and water (in the egg yolk), in order to keep them from separating

Eggs: Glaze
Cookies - An egg yolk glaze will create a shiny, golden crust. Egg white glazes make a shiny, crisp crust.

Flour: Thickening Agent

Soup Flour is used as the thickening agent to increase the viscosity of the soup mixture without substantially modifying its other properties

Additives: Artificial sweeteners

Aspartame, a low-calorie artificial sweetener, has been permitted for use as a food additive in Canada since 1981. It is used in a number of foods including soft drinks, desserts, breakfast cereals and chewing gum. It is also available as a table-top sweetener.

Bacteria: Ripening agent

Cheese - Ripening is the process of acidification of milk in cheese by using bacteria. During this phase the bacteria consumes the lactose in milk, the bacteria produce lactic acid which in turn causes the milk protein to develop into curd. The byproducts of this ripening stage provide flavor compounds which enhance the character of the finished cheese.

Adding starter culture to the milk.

The whey is drained from the curds.

Then the curds are placed into molds to shape the cheese.

Cheeses aging in a cellar.

Types of Food Ingredients and What They Do


1. Preservatives

2. Sweeteners 3. Colour Additives

10. pH Control Agents and acidulants 11. Leavening Agents 12. Anti-caking agents

4. Flavours and Spices

5. Flavour Enhancers 6. Fat Replacers (and components of formulations used to replace fats) 7. Nutrients 8. Emulsifiers 9. Stabilizers and Thickeners, Binders, Texturizers

13. Humectants 14. Yeast Nutrients 15. Dough Strengtheners and Conditioners 16. Enzyme Preparations 17. Gases 18. Curing agents

1. Preservatives
Names on labels Ascorbic acid, citric acid, sodium benzoate, calcium propionate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, calcium sorbate, potassium sorbate, BHA, BHT, EDTA, tocopherols (Vitamin E) What they do? Prevent food spoilage from bacteria[Salmonella producing food poisoning], molds, fungi [Aspergillus aflatoxin], or yeast (antimicrobials); slow or prevent changes in colour, flavour, or texture and delay rancidity (antioxidants); maintain freshness Examples of uses Fruit sauces and jellies, beverages, baked goods, cured meats, oils and margarines, cereals, dressings, snack foods, fruits and vegetables Examples: Sodium benzoate used in margarine, soft drinks Sulphur dioxide used in fruit juice, dried fruits Calcium propionate mould and rope inhibitors in bread

2. Sweeteners
Names Found on Product Labels Sucrose (sugar), glucose, fructose, sorbitol, mannitol, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium (acesulfame-K), neotame

What they do? Add sweetness with or without the extra calories
Examples of uses Beverages, baked goods, confections, table-top sugar, substitutes, many processed foods

2i. Sweeteners
Include many sugars and hydrolyzed starches and also a number of chemical compounds found to have sweetening properties Nutritive sweeteners defined as products that have > 2% of the caloric value of sucrose per equivalent unit of sweetening capacity, e.g. high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which is used as a replacement for sucrose in carbonated beverages

2ii. Sweeteners
Nonnutritive sweeteners Naturally occurring or synthetic compounds that have elevated sweetening power compared to sucrose, e.g. saccharin, cyclamate, aspartame, stevioside Used in low- or reduced- calorie foods

3. Colour Additives
Names Found on Product Labels SYNTHETIC: 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. Certified food colours generally do not add undesirable flavours to foods. Examples: FD&C Blue Nos. 1 and 2, FD&C Green No. 3, FD&C Red Nos. 3 and 40, FD&C Yellow Nos. 5 and 6, Orange B, Citrus Red No. 2 NATURAL: Colours that are exempt from certification include pigments derived from natural sources such as vegetables, minerals or animals. Nature derived colour additives are typically more expensive than certified colours and may add unintended flavours to foods. Examples of exempt colours include annatto extract (yellow), dehydrated beets (bluish-red to brown), caramel (yellow to tan), beta-carotene (yellow to orange) and grape skin extract (red, green), saffron (orange), fruit / vegetable juices.

3i. Colour Additives

What they do? Offset colour loss due to exposure to light, air, temperature extremes, moisture and storage conditions; correct natural variations in colour; enhance colours that occur naturally; provide colour to colourless and "fun" foods
Examples of uses Many processed foods, (candies, snack foods margarine, cheese, soft drinks, jams/jellies, gelatins, pudding and pie fillings)

ARTIFICIAL COLORINGS: Most artificial colorings are synthetic chemicals that do not occur in nature. Because colorings are used almost solely in foods of low nutritional value (candy, soda pop, gelatin desserts, etc.), you should simply avoid all artificially colored foods. In addition to problems mentioned below, colorings cause hyperactivity in some sensitive children. The use of coloring usually indicates that fruit or other natural ingredient has not been used.

4. Flavours and Spices

Names Found on Product Labels Natural flavouring, artificial flavour, and spices What they do? Add specific flavours (natural and synthetic)
Examples of uses Pudding and pie fillings, gelatin dessert mixes, cake mixes, salad dressings, candies, soft drinks, ice cream, BBQ sauce

5. Flavour Enhancers
Names Found on Product Labels Monosodium glutamate (MSG), hydrolyzed soy protein, autolyzed yeast extract, disodium guanylate or inosinate
What they do? Enhance flavours already present in foods (without providing their own separate flavour) Examples of uses Many processed foods

6. Fat Replacers (and components of formulations used to replace fats)

Names Found on Product Labels Olestra, cellulose gel, carrageenan, polydextrose, modified food starch, microparticulated egg white protein, guar gum, xanthan gum, whey protein concentrate
What they do? Provide expected texture and a creamy "mouth-feel" in reducedfat foods Examples of uses Baked goods, dressings, frozen desserts, confections, cake and dessert mixes, dairy products

7. Nutrients
Names Found on Product Labels Thiamine hydrochloride, riboflavin (Vitamin B2), niacin, niacinamide, folate or folic acid, beta carotene, potassium iodide, iron or ferrous sulfate, alpha tocopherols, ascorbic acid, Vitamin D, amino acids (L-tryptophan, L-lysine, L-leucine, L-methionine)
What they do? Replace vitamins and minerals lost in processing (enrichment), add nutrients that may be lacking in the diet (fortification) Examples of uses Flour, breads, cereals, rice, macaroni, margarine, salt, milk, fruit beverages, energy bars, instant breakfast drinks

8. Emulsifiers
Names Found on Product Labels Gelatin, pectin, guar gum, carrageenan, xanthan gum, whey What they do? i. Allow smooth mixing of ingredients, prevent separation ii. Keep emulsified products stable, reduce stickiness, control crystallization, keep ingredients dispersed, and to help products dissolve more easily
Examples of uses Frozen desserts, dairy products, cakes, pudding and gelatin mixes, dressings, jams and jellies, sauces

9. pH Control Agents and acidulants

Names Found on Product Labels Lactic acid, citric acid, ammonium hydroxide, sodium carbonate
What they do? Control acidity and alkalinity, prevent spoilage Examples of uses Beverages, frozen desserts, chocolate, low acid canned foods, baking powder

10. Leavening Agents

Names Found on Product Labels Baking soda, monocalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate
What they do? Promote rising of baked goods Examples of uses Breads and other baked goods

11. Anti-caking agents

Names Found on Product Labels Calcium silicate, iron ammonium citrate, silicon dioxide
What they do? Keep powdered foods free-flowing, prevent moisture absorption Examples of uses Salt, baking powder, confectioner's sugar

12. Humectants
Names Found on Product Labels Glycerin, sorbitol
What they do? Retain moisture Examples of uses Shredded coconut, marshmallows, soft candies, confections

13. Yeast Nutrients

Names Found on Product Labels Calcium sulfate, ammonium phosphate
What they do? Promote growth of yeast Examples of uses Breads and other baked goods

14. Dough Strengtheners and Conditioners

Names Found on Product Labels Ammonium sulfate, azodicarbonamide, Lcysteine
What they do? Produce more stable dough Examples of uses Breads and other baked goods

15. Firming Agents

Names Found on Product Labels Calcium chloride, calcium lactate
What they do? Maintain crispness and firmness Examples of uses Processed fruits and vegetables

16. Enzyme Preparations

Names Found on Product Labels Enzymes, lactase, papain, rennet, chymosin
What they do? Modify proteins, polysaccharides and fats Examples of uses Cheese, dairy products, meat

17. Gases
Names Found on Product Labels Carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide What they do? Serve as propellant, aerate, or create carbonation
Examples of uses Oil cooking spray, whipped cream, carbonated beverages

18. Curing agents

Names Found on Product Labels sodium nitrite (NaNO2), Acetic acid, benzoic acid, ascorbic acid What they do?
The pink colour of cured meats is developed and fixed by the addition of small amounts of sodium nitrite The nitrite also inhibits the activity of Clostridium botulinum which may be present in the meat

Examples of uses Meat products

Food Additive as an Important Part of the Food Ingredients

Have you ever wonder?

If youve ever looked at the list of ingredients on an everyday food item, youve probably noticed that our foods contain a large number of additives. A boxed rice dish may contain monosodium glutamate and lecithin. Your box of breakfast cereal may include calcium caseinate. Even staple items like milk and table salt can include additives.
What do those chemical names mean, and why are they added to our food?


Food additives are artificial or natural chemicals, purposely added to food (directly or indirectly) which affecting the characteristics of the food (e.g: to preserve flavor or enhance its taste and appearance). Basically, anything that is not naturally a part of a food is considered a food additive.


Food ingredients have been used for many years to preserve, flavor, blend, thicken and color foods, and have played an important role in reducing serious nutritional deficiencies among consumers.
Flavor enhancer by ethyl vanillin (artificial vanilla)

Preserving food by pickling (with vinegar)

Vegicaps in dietary supplements


Direct food additives are those that are added to a food for a specific purpose in that food. E.g. xanthan gum -- used in salad dressings, chocolate milk, bakery fillings, puddings and other foods to add texture -- is a direct additive.
Indirect food additives are those that become part of the food in trace amounts due to its packaging, storage or other handling.

Food Additives Regulation

AMERICA - GRAS additives

The United States Food and Drug Administration listed these items as "Generally recognized as safe" or GRAS; they are listed under both their Chemical Abstract Services number and Fukda regulation under the US Code of Federal Regulations. Many food additives are classified as GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe). Additives are classified as GRAS when they have been used without apparent harm for long periods, long before regulations were put into effect.
Example of GRAS substances: acetic acid, alum, ascorbic acid, baking soda, benzoic acid, caffeine, calcium citrate, corn starch, sugar, salt, monoglycerides, lactic acid, lecithin


In the European Union, food additives are often given E numbers: a set of standard codes which have been approved by the European Union. E numbers are all prefixed by "E", but countries outside Europe use only the number, whether the additive is approved in Europe or not. For example, acetic acid is written as E260 on products sold in Europe, but is simply known as additive 260 in some countries. Additive 103, alkanet, is not approved for use in Europe so does not have an E number, although it is approved for use in Australia and New Zealand. Since 1987, Australia has had an approved system of labelling for additives in packaged foods. Each food additive has to be named or numbered. The numbers are the same as in Europe, but without the prefix 'E'. . The main categories of additives are colours (e.g. E100, curcumin), preservatives (e.g. E200, sorbic acid); antioxidants (e.g. E300, L-ascorbic acid); emuslifiers and stabilizers (e.g. E322, lecithins); and sweeteners (e.g. E421, mannitol).

Food Regulations 1985 Lists all of the Permitted Food Additives that could be used in foods

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