Throughout history, humans have been obsessed with food, and to make this food taste better or last longer, humans have added substances to their food. These substances are called food additives. Food additives have been used as long ago as 5000 years ago to pickle vegetables, and to preserve fish and meats. Now food additives have taken its place and have had a wide range of uses including stabilizing the Ph of foods, increase saltiness, prevent oxidation, increase shelf life, enhance texture, and much more. Food additives have a general connotation that they are man made, but food additives can both be synthetic or naturally derived. Examples of naturally derived food additives include vitamin C (corbic acid), sodium, or lecithin found in soybeans. Generally, these food additives are used in very small quantities and are very carefully monitored by various scientific organizations.
In the early 1900s, food additives were used extensively after their potential was revealed. The problem is that in this time period, food additives were not controlled nor monitored. Naturally, companies added more and more food additives to make their food more appealing, and this posed dangerous safety concerns. For instance borax loaded onto foods. Borax is shown to be toxic, and is shown to be a toxin for reproduction. However, today borax is used to lengthen the shelf life of many foods in other countries illegally, though regulations strive to keep these toxic food additives in control.
The term food additives has many definitions which can be applied from different organizations. These definitions are complex and lengthy to touch on as many regulations as possible. An excerpt from the FDA’s (US Food and Drug Administration), definition, “any substance the intended use of which results or may reasonably be expected to result, directly or indirectly, in its becoming a component or otherwise affecting the characteristics of any food (including any substance intended for use in producing, manufacturing, packing, processing, preparing, treating, packaging, trans- porting, or holding food…”
For the control of food additives, there are many organizations which constantly monitor and review foods for their potential dangers, or simply for the identification of these food additives. Organizations include:
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)
Codex Alimentarius (UN organization meaning food law in Latin)
The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA)
The EU Scientific Committee on Food (FCF)
The standard for these organizations are logical. Throughout these organizations, food additives must be checked and verified to be safe by scientific bodies. The general principles of these additives are the requirement of vigorous testing, premarket clearance, and prohibition of harmful food additives. Also, these organizations have shown a history of reacting appropriately to public paranoia by testing food...