The Role of Food Additives

Food additives are a hot topic among consumers. Many are seeking to avoid any food ingredients that are unrecognizable or difficult to pronounce, which places pressure on companies to reformulate their foods to be more consumer-friendly. However, food additives have critical roles in food safety, functionality, and even nutrition. Vitamins and minerals can have unappealing names like “thiamin mononitrate” (synthetic vitamin B1), but are generally not something people should seek to avoid in their diets. From the perspective of the food industry, removing or replacing these ingredients while also delivering the shelf life, price, and quality consumers expect is an incredible technical challenge.

In the article ‘Get Familiar with Food Additives’ in the latest issue of Food & Nutrition magazine from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RDN attempts to clear up some confusion about the role food additives play in food as well as the regulations in place to ensure the safety of these ingredients. A quote straight from the article may say it best: “‘countless studies and hours of scientific evaluation go into the process of food substance safety review,’ says Hilary Thesmar, PHD, RD, Food Marketing Institute Chief Food and Product Safety Officer.”

Moving ahead, education and transparency may become just as important of a strategy as product reformulation when it comes to addressing consumer concern about ingredients.

To learn more about food additives, read the full article on the Food & Nutrition website.