Meaning of ADDITIVE in English

ADDITIVE

in foods, any of various chemical substances added to foods to produce specific desirable effects. The term additive may also be expanded to include substances-possibly useless or deleterious-that enter foods unintentionally. Additives include such substances as artificial or natural colourings and flavourings; stabilizers, emulsifiers, texturizers, and thickeners; preservatives; flavour enhancers; and supplementary nutrients. Salt, used for centuries to preserve meat, is an additive, as are baking soda, vinegar, and many spices commonly used in home food preparation. In commercial food processing, additives may be used for aesthetic reasons (to improve colour or consistency) or for considerations of health (to retard spoilage or to increase nutritional value). Some artificial flavourings and colourings are used for economic reasons, because they are cheaper than the natural ingredients. Other chemicals are added to extend the shelf life of products; for example, humectants, which help to retain moisture; anticaking agents, which maintain the free-flowing qualities of salt, sugar, and similar products; and release agents, used to prevent confections and baked goods from sticking to their wrappings. Although many additives are beneficial-or, at least, harmless-others have the effect of reducing nutritional value or concealing inferior raw materials or processing. In the United States, prior to 1958, any such substance added to food by manufacturers and producers was assumed to be safe unless proven otherwise. Since that time, however, many additives have come under scrutiny as possible causes of cancer (carcinogens) and birth defects (teratogens). Thus, the U.S. government, along with many others, became involved in regulating the use of additives, both to protect public health and to avoid consumer deception. Incidental additives, or contaminants, are substances that enter food inadvertently or accidentally during production, processing, or handling. Pesticides used to protect crops may leave residues in foods, as may drugs added to livestock feed to control disease and improve meat yield. Legislation often establishes limits for such residue in food products. Maximum levels may also be specified for chemicals employed in packaging materials, which may actually introduce toxic substances into the products they contain. For more information on additives, see emulsifier; food colouring; nutritional supplement; preservative.

Britannica English vocabulary.      Английский словарь Британика.