According to WHO, 1965 and Food Protection Committee of the National Academy of Science, 1956, Food Additives are defined as substance or mixture of substance other than basic food stuff which is present in food as a result of any aspect of production, processing, storage or packaging. The term “does not include chance contamination”. The joint FAO/WHO Export Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) in the international body responsible for evaluating the safety of food additives. According to CODEX Alimenterius “Additives are not considered nutritional even if they have some nutritive values.”

Historically, there is a strong tradition of adding ingredients or substances to foods to perform a specific function. The first records of these ‘additives’ can be traced back to Ancient Egyptian papyri circa 1500 BC, which illustrate the use of spices in foods to flavour and make them more appealing. The Egyptians were also responsible for improving the bread-making process by adding yeast from brewing beer to allow the bread to rise. The earliest record on the use of natural dyes was found in China, dated 2600 BC. Dyeing was known in Indus Valley period as early as 2500 BC. Saffron is mentioned in the Bible and henna was used. Back in the 1800s, food additives were intentionally used for food adulteration. In 1920, the availability of effective methods for food analysis, together with regulatory pressures, started to reduce the significance of this problem. In the middle of the 20th century, processed food became an important part of human nutrition, and legal chemical additives became increasingly prevalent in them, fostering tight regulation, which still remains controversial due to the high number of studies concerning food additives that produce conflicting results and different interpretations by governments.

1. What is Food Additive?

These are purposefully added to food in minute quantity to enhance the shelf life, including imparting & restoring colour to maintain palatability and wholesomeness or to enhance the flavour.
• Food additives is defined by FDA (Food and Drug Administration) as any substance used to provide a technical effect in foods.
• According to CODEX, food additives means any substance not normally consumed as a food by itself and not normally used as a typical ingredient of food, whether or not it has nutritive value, the intentional addition of which to food for a technological purpose in the manufacture, processing, packaging, etc.

2. Major Uses of Food Additives

2.1. Preservation: One of the main functions of food additives is to preserve food from being spoiled, and increase the shelf life of the food. E.g., salt, sugar, acetic acid etc.
2.2. Colour Improvement: Colouring agents are added to food and food product to improve their colour, making them more appealing. E.g. lycopene, chlorophyll etc.
2.3. Improvement in Flavour: Flavouring agents are both natural and synthetic compounds to add flavour to food products.
E.g., plant extract, herbs, methyl salicylate, benzaldehyde, etc.
2.4. Altering Texture of Food Product
2.5. Preparation aid: Some food additives make food processing easier. E.g., chemical defoamers may be used to minimize foaming in foods high in fat content.

‘People have been using food additives for 1000’s of years. Today about 2800 substances are used as food additives. E.g., salt, sugar, vinegar and corn syrup are by far most widely used additives in food.

3. Market Size and Growth of Food Additives

• The Global Food Additives Market size was worth USD 37.91 billion in 2021 and is estimated to reach a valuation of USD 55.53 billion by the end of 2027, by growing at a CAGR of 6% during the forecast period.
• A wide range of food additives are used for the manufacture or preservation of a variety of foods, which include packaged food, dairy products, drinks, bakery products, etc.
• Enzymes, emulsifiers, acidulants, shelf-life stabilizers and flavour & colour enhancers are in high demand in the Global Food Additives Market.

4. Safety of Food Additives and their Evaluation

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are more than 3000 food additives allowed in the United States. Within the European Union (EU), food additives are divided into many functional classes.

Numeric range of additivesIn order to approve new additives or extend the usage of an approved one within the EU, a series of procedures has to be carried out, divided into 4 parts:
The 1st regards the “Chemistry and specifications”
The 2nd part, “Existing authorizations and evaluation”
The 3rd part “Proposed uses and exposure assessment”
Finally, the “Toxicological Studies”

5. Recent Developments in Food Additives Industry

• Tate & Lyle PLC, a prominent player in the food additive business around the world introduced ultra-low-calorie sugar with the help of proprietary process & corn’s enzymatic conversion.
• Cargill, Incorporated launched new carrageenan extracted from Satiagel ABN 500 algae, which was a part of the texture variant.
• Shokubai of Japan has acquired a certified halal company. This acquisition allowed Nippon Shokubai to add organic acids to its product portfolio.

5.1. Biopreservation

Biopresevation offers great possibilities to extend the storage life and food safety using natural microflora and their antimicrobial products. Microorganisms are considered units of biopreservation.

Bacterial metabolites as biopreservatives

Bacteriocins can be defined as ribosomally synthesized antimicrobial peptides or proteins which are able to influence the safety and quality of food.

5.1.1. Applications of Bacteriocins

• To extend the shelf life of foods; Provide extra protection during temperature abuse conditions.
• Decrease the risk for transmission of food-borne pathogens through the food chain;
• Ameliorate the economic losses due to food spoilage;
• Reduce the application of chemical preservatives.

Different Class of Bacteriocins

5.2. Bio-synthesis of Food Colourants and Additives

In today’s industrialized world, the scale & product quality of the Food Industry would continue to improve and the demands of the industrial chain would promote the rapid development of the Food Additive Industry. However, growing demand for sustainability, safety & “natural” products has renewed the interest in using bio-based production method. The production of bio-based food additives & colourants is an interdisciplinary research endeavour & represents a growing trend in future food. Traditionally, food additives are mainly produced through chemical synthesis or extraction from natural resources. In contrast, microbial production of food additives can provide advantages over chemical synthesis & natural extraction, including low-cost materials, controllable cultivation processes and product specificity & higher production yields & robustness. Microbial production of food additives and colourants has received attention as a scalable and economically viable manner of production. In this regard, the industry can leverage many well-established processes with high titers, including molecules such as xanthan, erythritol, 2’- fucosyllactose, L-glutamate, α-galactosidase and riboflavin. We highlight recent advances in overproduction of these molecules here, as they highlight how synthetic biology, metabolic engineering and other biotechnological approaches can improve overall production titers and enable large-scale production. Some commonly used food additives & colourants have been derived from microbial fermentation, such as AR pink red from Penicillium oxalicum, riboflavin from Ashbya gossypii and microalgal astaxanthin from Haematococcus pluvialis.

Schematic pyramid of bio-based food additives and food colourants

The current state and potential of microbial hosts for food additive and colourant molecule production based on their utilization stage and bio-production yield are as follows:
1. Approved and industrially produced with high titers;
2. Approved and produced with decent titers (in the g/l range), but requiring further engineering to reduce production costs;
3. Approved and produced with very early-stage titers (in the mg/l range);
4. Newer/potential candidates that have not been approved but can be sourced through microbes.

5.2.1. Carotenoids

Carotenoids are biosynthesized through isoprenoid pathway from the basic C5-terpenoid precursor, isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP). The entire biosynthesis takes place in the chloroplasts encoded by nucleus genes. The biosynthesis of all natural carotenoids begins with the enzymatic assembly of a C30 or C40 backbone. In C40 carotenoids backbone, the isoprenoid chain is built up from mevalonic acid (MVA) and is catalyzed by prenyltransferases to the C20 level as geranylgeranyl diphosphate. Two molecules of this are joined tail to tail to give 15-cis-phytoene as the first product with the C40 carotenoid skeleton, which is catalyzed by the phytoene. C40 carotenoids are mostly made in plants and microbial species. C30 carotenoid pathways starting with the condensation of two molecules of farnesyl diphosphate to form dehydrosqualene are not so widespread. Different types and levels of modification of C40 or C30 backbone by carotenoid biosynthetic enzymes such as isoprenyl diphosphate synthases, carotenoid synt hases, desaturases, cyclases and other specific transformations lead to synthesizing of numerous varieties of products.

Colour producing microbes

The factors affecting the pigment microbial production are carbon source, nitrogen source, minerals, temperature, pH, type of fermentation, etc. Pigment is produced by the bacteria to absorb UV radiation or to quench oxygen free radicals. In both cases, bacterial pigment plays important role in cell protection.

 5.2.2. Agro-Industrial By-Products to Food Additives

• Plant by-product i.e., peel of dragon fruit & banana for synthesis of natural colourant.
• The peel of dragon fruit is rich in betalain, (betacyanins) which can be used as natural colourant, substitute of red colourant/purple colourants that is mostly used in food & beverage industry.
• The banana peel is reported to contain 3-4 µg/g of carotenoid content, as compared to fruits. Banana peel can be used to extract Carotenoid, replacement of synthetic yellow colourant with numerous health benefits.
• The CaCl2 from the eggshell has been used to control the growth of mesophilic & high-impact microorganisms & able to reduce the water reduction of newly cut fruits.
• Some other examples of food additive synthesized from by-product of agro-industrial waste are citrus & pomegranate peel as antioxidant, chitosan as antimicrobial agent, onion-by products, etc.
• With the increasing in the uses of processed food since 19th century, there has been a great increase in the use of food additive.
• As food additives have numerous adverse & minor effects in human health, especially from artificially synthesized food additive.
• To overcome these negative sides of food additives, scientists are developing new technologies for the synthesis or extraction of naturally occurring food additives.”
• Bio-based food additives have also been gaining huge popularity recently; They are a microbially &/or enzymatically synthesis food additive having little or no harmful impact towards human health.

5.3. Chitosan as Antimicrobial Agent

Chitosan has been approved as a food additive in Japan and Korea since 1983 and 1995 respectively. Increasing consumer demands for high-quality and microbiologically safer foods, together with longer product shelf life are continuously forcing researchers and the industry to develop new food preservative strategies. As a natural polyaminosaccharide, chitosan possesses many of these attributes. From a biological standpoint, chitosan and its derivatives are highly attractive for their applications in medical, food and textile industries, which are closely related to human safety and fitness.

Applications of Chitosan

5.4. Nano Food Additives

It is recognized that the application of nanotechnology may present new challenges in terms of safety, regulatory and ethical considerations, while offering many potential benefits to manufacturers and consumers. Nano-food additives are assessed either as novel additives or, where a macroequivalent is already approved, through potential amendments of the appropriate specifications, including purity criteria, under the Directive 96/77/EC. Among the few examples of currently available food additives is the synthetic form of the tomato carotenoid, Lycopene, which has a particle size in the range of 100 nm. For example, synthetic Lycopene in combination with vitamin E has been reported to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer in mice. The micro- and nano-particles commonly found in food are typically oxides of silicon, aluminium and titanium. For example, microparticulates, such as titanium dioxide and aluminosilicates, are used as food additives; titanium dioxide is present in anatase (E171) and aluminosilicate s are commonly added to granular and powdered foods as anti-caking agents. Titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles (NPs) are manufactured worldwide in large quantities for use in a wide range of applications. The most common nanomaterials found in consumer products for dermal application are TiO2 NPs. TiO2 NPs are also widely used for toothpaste, food colourants and nutritional supplements.

5.5. Advanced Uses of Natural Antioxidant

Oxidation is a key problem that reduces the shelf life of fresh food like processed meat and meat products. The recent advances on plant materials have also found their use as a natural antioxidant in meat and meat products. The concept of natural antioxidant refers to any substance that, when present at a low concentration as compared to that of an oxidizable substrate, would be able to either delay or inhibit the oxidation of the substrate. The natural antioxidants present in plant materials have strong H•-donating activity or have high radical-absorbance capacity or sequestered metal catalysts to render them unreactive. Some natural antioxidants prevent the formation of free radicals and propagation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), while other scavenge free radicals and chelate transition metals (pro-oxidants). The antioxidant potential of these natural substances depends on the pattern of these functional groups on this skeleton. For example, the number and position of free hydroxyl (–OH) groups on flavonoid skeleton decide the free radical-scavenging potential. Presence of multiple –OH groups and ortho-3, 4-dihydroxy structures enhance the antioxidant potential of natural phenolics. Plant pigments such as anthocyanins and their hydrolyzed products, anthocyanindins also contain –OH groups, which can donate H• and thus have antioxidant potential. For example: Plum, Grape seed extract, Pomegranate, Avocado, Tomato, Lotus, etc. Due to the adverse health effects of synthetic antioxidants, fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and other plant extracts provide good alternatives to combat such problems in meat products, in addition to increasing the health promoting bioactive components.


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About the Authors:Authors - Arun,-Aroma-&-Surbhi


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