Chemicals in Food – Definition, Preservatives, Antioxidants, Examples
Chemists play an important role in our everyday lives. Chemical substances are used to meet the most fundamental necessities, such as shelter, food, clothes, and medication. Pharmaceutical chemistry takes into account organic, analytical, physical, inorganic, and biological issues.
Did you aware that you consume artificial sweeteners as chemicals on a daily basis? That is correct. A variety of chemicals are present in about 80% of the packaged foods we consume. Some of these compounds are extremely dangerous to your health, while others are required to keep food fresh and edible. Let’s take a closer look at these chemicals in food.
Chemicals in food
In various ways, chemistry has aided the modern world. The introduction of chemicals into our everyday food has made a significant influence. When chemicals are added to food, they serve three basic functions :
- They contribute to the food’s long-term preservation. The shelf life of most processed foods ranges from a few months to several years. Only because we use chemicals as preservatives in these foods can we do this.
- To improve the physical appearance of foods, chemicals are sometimes added. Certain chemicals will aid manufacturers in increasing the appeal of their products and making them more appealing to customers. They’re just for show.
Additives are chemicals found in foods. There are numerous additives that are considered safe for human consumption that we use today. However, not all of them are healthy. We use the following substances in our food: Food colours, Trans fats, etc.
Chemicals in Food Preservatives
In warmer climates, the sun aids in the drying of perishable foods such as fruits, vegetables, and fish. In frigid climates, nature aids in the preservation of perishable foods such as meat and fish for longer periods of time.
Natural fermentation and salting also aided man in the availability of a few key foods. The main agents for storing food are heat and cold. Many of these food preservation procedures are founded on scientific principles, resulting in the food preservation business becoming the world’s largest industry today. A preservative is a chemical that, when added to food, inhibits, delays, or stops the fermentation, acidification, or another breakdown of food caused by the proliferation of bacteria.
The following are the several types of food preservation methods,
- Physical Methods
- Chemical Methods
Physical Methods of Food Preservatives
- By removal heat: Refrigeration, freezing preservation, dehydro-freezing preservation, and carbonation are all involved. Foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish can have their storage life extended by freezing them. Cooling lowers the temperature, which inhibits the growth of microorganisms.
- By the addition of heat: Pasteurization or sterilization can be done both statically and agitated. The first and most popular method of preservation is by adding heat. Canning or heat processing is another term for it. Because heating kills microorganisms, this approach is used to preserve solid and liquid goods on a wide scale.
- By removal of water: The procedures used to remove water include sun drying, low-temperature evaporation, freeze-drying, puff driving, and others. Sun drying is a common method for drying a wide range of foods, vegetables, grains, and other items around the world. To obtain high-quality dried products, numerous innovations have been implemented. The development of germs is inhibited as water is eliminated from the mixture.
- By irradiation: Food is preserved by ultraviolet (UV) or ionizing radiation. To suppress microbe development in the food sector, higher-intensity ultraviolet lights are utilized for irradiation. Baking items, for example. High-energy electromagnetic radiation is employed because it produces desired dietary effects and does not cause food to become radioactive.
Chemical Methods of Food Preservatives
- Addition of sugar: When it comes to preserving fruits for jams, jellies, and marmalades, adding sugar and then applying heat is a crucial step. This technique is simple, inexpensive, and simple to implement.
- Addition of salt: In food storage, salting is also used to keep fungus and bacteria at bay. It’s mostly used to make raw mango, lemon, and chilli pickles, as well as to keep fish items fresh. Osmosis is the process through which a cell loses water, dies, goes dormant, or stops working. It’s one of the oldest ways to keep food fresh.
- Addition of vinegar: Vinegar is used to preserve foods such as pickles, salad dressings, mustard, fish, and other similar items. Vinaigre, which means sour wine in French, is the source of the word vinegar.
- Addition of other chemicals: Preservatives include sodium benzoate, sorbic acid salts, and propionic acid, among others.
Artificial Sweetening Agents
Plants contain sweeteners such as cane sugar, glucose, maltose, and fructose. They’re sugar substitutes that aren’t artificial. They function as nourishment, providing calories to the body, in addition to being sweet. Certain compounds that do not occur naturally but are produced in the lab have a pleasant taste but no nutritional benefit. They are known as artificial sweeteners.
In 1879, Constantine Fahlberg and Era Ramsen discovered saccharin, an artificial sweetener. For diabetics, it was a crucial breakthrough. It does not need to be digested when it passes through the human digestive system. It has a nasty bitter flavour at high concentrations. C7H5SNO3 is Saccharin’s molecular formula.
Cane sugar is 550 times sweeter. It’s used to sweeten medications, toothpaste, low-calorie confectionery, soft drinks, and cold drinks, among other things.
Aspartame, which is 100 times sweeter than cane sugar, is another artificial sweetener. Because it is fragile at high temperatures, it is exclusively utilised in cold foods. Sucralose is a sucrose trichloro derivative that is 600 times sweeter than cane sugar. Sucralose is not used in cooking since it degrades at high temperatures. Alitame, another artificial sweetener, outperforms cane sugar by around 2000 times. As a result, it’s exceptionally sweet and temperature stable.
Antioxidants are substances that, when added to food, slow or stop food from oxidizing. Fats and oils are easily oxidized, becoming rancid and unpleasant to eat. Antioxidants are added to keep them from oxidizing and turning rancid. Free radicals are created during the oxidation of food. Antioxidants bind to free radicals and prevent food from oxidizing further.
- Butylated hydroxytoluene (C15H24O) or BHT
Because of the electron cloud of the benzene ring, the free radical created by the interaction of a fat molecule with oxygen reacts with BHT to form the BHT radical, which is quite stable. The chain reaction is broken when the BHT radical does not combine with another fat molecule. It keeps fats from being oxidized and rancid. It’s used to keep the smell, colour, and flavour of food fresh.
- Butylated hydroxyanisole (C11H16O2) or BHT
BHA, like BHT, is used to keep lipids from going rancid by preserving them. Butter, Cereals, chewing gum, snack foods, baked goods, beer, and dehydrated potatoes all contain BHA. Rubber, cosmetics, and petroleum products all contain this substance.
- Sulphur dioxide
Their technological efficiency and versatility make them ideal for use as food additives. They serve as antimicrobials, structural modifiers, antioxidants, and enzyme inhibitors, among other things. Wines, fruit juices, pickles, and other beverages contain them. Sodium or potassium sulphite, as well as bisulphites, are the salts utilized.
Question 1: What role do chemicals have in food?
The introduction of chemicals into our daily food has made a significant influence. In fact, when chemicals are introduced to food, they perform three basic functions: They aid in the preservation of the food. The majority of processed foods on the market have a shelf life ranging from a few months to a few years.
Question 2: What is the most widely used chemical in food?
In fact, food preservatives are one of the most common applications of chemicals in food. Sodium benzoate is the most common chemical. C7H5NaO2 is the chemical formula for sodium benzoate.
Question 3: Explain chemical methods for the preservation of food.
Chemical Method for the preservation of food are:
- Addition of sugar : When it comes to preserving fruits for jams, jellies, and marmalades, adding sugar and then applying heat is a crucial step. This technique is simple, inexpensive, and simple to implement.
- Addition of salt : In food storage, salting is also used to keep fungus and bacteria at bay. It’s mostly used to make raw mango, lemon, and chilli pickles, as well as to keep fish items fresh. Osmosis is the process through which a cell loses water, dies, goes dormant, or stops working. It’s one of the oldest ways to keep food fresh.
- Addition of vinegar : Vinegar is used to preserve foods such as pickles, salad dressings, mustard, fish, and other similar items. Vinaigre, which means sour wine in French, is the source of the word vinegar.
- Addition of other chemicals : Preservatives include sodium benzoate, sorbic acid salts, and propionic acid, among others.
Question 4: Give one Example of Antioxidants.
Example of Antioxidants is,
Sulphur dioxide: Their technological efficiency and versatility make them ideal for use as food additives. They serve as antimicrobials, structural modifiers, antioxidants, and enzyme inhibitors, among other things. Wines, fruit juices, pickles, and other beverages contain them. Sodium or potassium sulphite, as well as bisulphites, are the salts utilized.
Question 5: What is sodium chloride’s function in food?
This chemical molecule is used in foods to prevent caking in a variety of items, including salt. This chemical has been deemed safe for use in foods by the WHO for decades.
Question 6: What compounds are used to extend the shelf life of food?
Various chemicals are added to food to extend shelf life and make it more appealing. Colors, flavours, and sweeteners, antioxidants, fat emulsifiers, stabilizing agents, flour improvers, food preservatives, and nutritional supplements such as minerals, vitamins, and amino acids are the most common types of food additives.
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