In recent years, more and more food manufacturers have been looking toward the use of processing aids to help reduce the likelihood of food borne illness. Although you can’t see, taste or smell them in the final product, the fact is that most foods sold on the shelves today were made with at least some type of processing aid. With that said, many consumers are completely unaware of processing aids or how they’re used. Here we’ll take a closer look at this relatively new method for preserving food used by manufacturing companies across the world.
What Are Processing Aids?
In short, processing aids are additives approved by the FDA and USDA that are used for a variety of purposes, one of which is preservation. For instance, there are certain processing aids designed to dry food faster; therefore, the risk of bacteria or other harmful microbials from contaminating it is lowered. Food borne illness is a serious issue in many parts of the world, and this is way manufacturers are reducing their risk. Other processing aids may be used to act as a catalyst during the manufacturing process. When a certain chemical reaction is required to take place for the final product, one of these processing aids may be adding to create it.
Most people would probably assume that processing aids are only used in meats, such as beef, chicken and pork. While you can certainly find them in meats, processing aids are also used in fruits, vegetables, cheese, milk, baked goods and countless other products. If you buy and eat food sold at the grocery store, chances are you’ve consumed processing aids without even knowing it. However, the great thing about processing aids is that you can’t taste them or know they were even used. Depending on the product, most of the processing aids dissipated before the food is finished. There may be small traces leftover, but it’s not enough to taste or notice.
If you’re still confused as to what exactly food processing aids are, let us give you some examples – one of the most common types of processing aids is chlorine wash, which is used to clean dirt, germs and insects off of fresh produce. The FDA and USDA have both approved the use of chlorine wash by food manufacturers for this reason. Another example of a processing aid is food dye, which is used to give the product a more natural colour. Of course these are just a few of the many different types of processing aids available.