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Food Additives Food additives have been used for thousands of years In prehistoric times salt was probably used to preserve meat and fish Our ancestors also found that large amounts of sugar helped preserve fruit and that cucumbers could be preserved in a vinegar solution The ancient Egyptians used sulfites to stop bacterial growth and fermentation in wine They also used extracts from beetles for food coloring Vegetable dyes from juniper fruits or beech-root juice were popular colorings in the Middle Ages although wary kings began to employ garglers to test their mealsperhaps for additives that did not originate in the kitchen Editors of Prevention Magazine 1993 Today salt sugar and corn syrup are by far the most widely used additives The role of food additives has become more prominent in recent years due in part to the increased production of prepared processed and convenience foods At the same time consumers scientists and others have raised questions about the necessity and safety of these substances Although limited amounts of food additives are necessary to guarantee adequate food supplies for a growing population their use is strictly controlled by laws that assure consumers that foods are safe to eat and accurately labeled FDAIFIC 1998 Many people tend to think of any additive added to foods as a complex chemical compound but that ideology is quite wrong A food additive is a substance or mixture of substances other than basic foodstuffs present in food as a result of any aspect of production processing storage or packaging Winter 1984 Salt baking soda vanilla and yeast are all food additives and are commonly used in processed foods today By law the label must identify the food product in a language the consumer can understand It must indicate the manufacturer the packer or distributor and declare the quantity of contents either in net weight or volume and the ingredients must be declared on the label in order of predominance
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