Chemistry is an integral part of our foods with a variety of chemical substances commonly added to foods to perform a necessary technological function. Since ancient times, substances such as salt, spices or sulfites have been used to preserve foods and make them more palatable. But the increased processing of foods in the 20th century created the need for new types of additives and their greater use. For example, additives used as preservatives or antioxidants can prevent food spoilage enabling the food to remain fresher for longer. Other additives such as emulsifiers or stabilisers help in improving the consistency and stability of e.g. margarine, ice cream or salad dressing. While other additives can be used to enhance or restore sensory qualities, as is the case of food colours which can restore the food’s original appearance which may have been altered during its processing.
Contrary to what one might think, gelatine is not an additive but a food product in its own right – a highly digestible animal protein and a pure food protein of natural origin which is added to other foods, not only for technological reasons but because it increases the protein content.
Good quality feed material and nutrients are needed in modern and sustainable farming. They contribute to animal welfare and increase the quality of meat.
In addition, chemical substances such as food contact additives are widely used in various food contact materials, such as food packaging, kitchen utensils or food processing equipment. Food contact additives are essential substances needed to achieve a physical or chemical effect in the material and play an important role in our food supply chain. They help to protect the food against chemical and microbial deterioration during storage and transportation, while helping in reducing food waste and losses and thus contributing to the objectives of the circular economy of the food system.
Miguel Angel Prieto Arranz