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Understanding The Difference Between Food Preservatives and Food Additives

As we continue to hear about isolated outbreaks of food-borne illness throughout the world, consumers are realizing just how important proper food processing and manufacturing techniques is. If a company acts negligently to package or process their food products, it could result in an outbreak that sends dozens of people to the hospital. Thankfully, preservation techniques have come a long ways in the last decade, allowing manufacturers and companies to increase the shelf life of their products and significantly lower the risk of food-borne illness. However, there’s still some confusion on the differences between food additives and preservation.. If you’re wondering how these two techniques vary from each other, keep reading and we’ll take a closer look at this subject.

Food Preservatives Overview

Food preservatives are essentially additives used in food processing which limit the growth of dangerous microbes. Even though you can’t see them, thousands of microscopic germs are running around on practically every surface we touch. While some of these germs pose absolutely no threat, others may cause sickness.

Certain food items, such as beef products and cheese, act as ideal breeding grounds for these microbes. The increased moisture content and protein are essentially microbe magnets, and it may lead to sickness when a tainted or rancid product is consumed. Food preservatives are adding during the manufacturing process to help limit the growth of microbes and fungus; therefore, making the product last longer.

Food Additives Overview

Unlike preservatives, food additives are not intended to slow down the threat of microbes or fungus. So, what purpose do they serve? Most food manufacturers use additives in their products to either enhance the flavor, give it a more desirable appearance or to change its colour. Some of the most common additives found in food include salt, vinegar, sweeteners, citric acid and food colouring.

It’s important to note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires all preservatives and additives to be safe for human consumption. Even with this widely-known fact, some people are still on the fence about consuming food products containing certain additives or preservatives. Also, the FDA places a limit on the concentration of preservatives in a food product. If it exceeds this amount, then it cannot be sold for human consumption.

After reading this, you should have a better understanding on what the difference is between food preservatives and food additives. The key thing to remember is that preservatives are used with the basic goal of keeping food fresh and limiting the growth of microbes, while additives are used to enhance flavor and appearance.

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