More and more people are talking about preservative. Well what is a food preservative and are they bad for us?
Food preservatives play a role in keeping food safe and protecting it from going bad. This month’s edition of the Food and Nutrition journal contains an article titled “Food Preservatives” by Kathleen Zelman. The author of the article discusses what food preservatives are and breaks them down into physical and chemical preservatives. Chemical preservatives not only refers to the artificial preservatives but also to the natural preservatives such as lemon juice, salt and sugar.
We are going to look a little closer at what the artificial preservatives are. To prevent the growth of molds and harmful bacteria, chemicals such as benzoates, sorbates, propionates and nitrites are added to food products.
Oxidation can cause food to go bad and destroy essential nutrients in food. There are a couple of different “groups of chemicals” that control the oxidation. To slow down the rate of oxidation in foods, sulfites, vitamin E, vitamin C, butylated hydroxyanisole, and butylated hydroxytoluene are added.These compounds do not prevent oxidation, but will help to slow down the rate of oxidation. The next group of artificial preservatives are chelating agents such as EDTA, polyphosphates, and citric acid. These agents protect food from enzymatic reactions that promote destruction of food during processing and storing.
Rather you think food preservatives are good or bad, they have to listed on the food products. All preservative ingredients must be called a preservative or the function of it must be stated on the product. Just like anything else, both artificial and chemical preservatives should be limited and remember that they are in foods to keep it safe to consume. There is still a lot of ongoing research with food preservatives.