What are food preservatives?
Food preservatives are food additives that are used to delay or prevent the natural deterioration of food by microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, yeasts).
Often, many types of microorganisms coexist in the same food. Not all preservative substances are effective against all types of microbes, so it is common for more than one preservative to be used in the same food.
There may be some confusion with antibiotics, which are used as drugs to fight infections, but unlike them, microorganisms never develop resistance to food preservatives. So it is not necessary to modify the established ADIs (ADI = Acceptable Daily Intake) .
To avoid the overload of food preservatives in a food product, its ADI is reduced according to the amount of preservatives it contains. Thus, for example, when two preservatives are used, the respective ADIs of each are reduced by half. If three are used, to a third; and so on.
How do food preservatives work?
As we have said, preservatives serve to delay or prevent the deterioration of a food.
It is interesting to explain that a food becomes perishable due to two factors: (1) biological alterations. (2) chemical alterations.
(1) Food preservatives act on biological alterations; that is, avoiding or delaying the growth or microbiological development in food. For example, if we leave fresh strawberries at room temperature for a few weeks, we will soon observe mold growth and biological degradation of the fruit.
(2) On the other hand, those in charge of delaying the chemical degradation of the food are the antioxidant additives.
Food preservatives are distinguished by those that can be used on food or only on its surface or container.
What foods contain preservatives?
Almost all foods currently on the market contain some type of preservative.
Other preservatives that are commonly used in food:
More information on food additives
13 December, 2021