What are the uses of food preservatives and what do food preservatives do?
Preservatives are added to food to fight spoilage caused by bacteria, molds, fungus, and yeast. Preservatives also help keep food fresh for longer periods of time.
What are preservatives made of?
Preservatives can be made of “natural” chemicals such as salt or alcohol. They can also be man-made, or synthetic chemicals. “Natural” or “organic” chemicals are not necessarily healthier than synthetic or man-made chemicals. In fact, artificial preservatives such as sodium nitrate, sodium benzoate and propionate have long been used in food preparation because they are effective in small amounts.
How are additives and food preservatives approved for use in foods?
Today, food and color additives, including preservatives, are more strictly studied, regulated and monitored than at any other time in history, and FDA has the primary legal responsibility for determining their safe use. To add a new food preservative to the market, or before using a substance already approved for one use in another application, the manufacturer or other sponsor must obtain approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and provide scientific data demonstrating that the substance is safe for its intended use.
Why are preservatives added to foods?
Preservatives are added to foods to help prevent or slow spoilage due to bacteria, molds, fungi or yeast, as well as to slow or prevent changes in the food’s color, flavor or texture, delay rancidity, and maintain freshness.
Why are preservatives used in vaccines?
Preservatives kill, prevent, or slow the growth of microorganisms, particularly bacteria and fungi, which may cause disease or infection. Studies have found that there is no convincing scientific evidence that the low dose of thimerosal as a preservative in vaccines causes harm, except for possible minor reactions like redness and swelling at the injection site. The FDA offers information about the safety of thimerosal.
What is sodium benzoate?
In acidic drinks like sodas and fruit juices, sodium benzoate is an antimicrobial preservative and flavoring agent that can inhibit the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast. It is found naturally in cranberries, prunes, apples and some spices. Sodium benzoate can also be used to lubricate pills and tablets for medicines.
What are nitrites? Why are they used as preservatives?
Nitrites (such as sodium nitrite or sodium nitrate) are preservatives used to prevent bacteria in lunch meats and other cured meats. In a typical person’s diet, 80 percent of nitrites come from vegetables such as spinach, radishes and lettuce. Nitrites also deter botulism to some degree. FDA has stated that the food preservative sodium nitrate can be safely used in or on specified foods.
What are sulphites? Why are they used as preservatives?
Sulphites such as sulphur dioxide are types of salts widely used for their preservative and antioxidant properties. In food, these are found predominantly in dried fruits and vegetables, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.
What are parabens? Why are they used as preservatives?
Parabens are preservatives that help to protect against the growth of bacteria, fungi and yeast. Parabens are derived from para-hydroxybenzoic acid (PHBA), which occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables. According to FDA, there is “no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of cosmetics containing parabens.”
What is formaldehyde? Why is it used as a preservative?
Formaldehyde is a simple chemical compound made of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon. All life forms – bacteria, plants, fish, animals and humans – naturally produce formaldehyde. As a preservative, formaldehyde is well known for its anti-bacterial properties, helping to prevent the growth of bacteria and other pathogens and extend shelf life when it is added as a product ingredient.