Food Ingredients and Colors
For centuries, ingredients have served useful functions in a variety of foods. Our ancestors used salt to preserve meats and fish, added herbs and spices to improve the flavor of foods, preserved fruit with sugar, and pickled cucumbers in a vinegar solution. Today, consumers demand and enjoy a food supply that is flavorful, nutritious, safe, convenient, colorful and affordable. Food additives and advances in technology help make that possible.
There are thousands of ingredients used to make foods. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains a list of over 3000 ingredients in its data base “Everything Added to Food in the United States”, many of which we use at home every day (e.g., sugar, baking soda, salt, vanilla, yeast, spices and colors).
Still, some consumers have concerns about additives because they may see the long, unfamiliar names and think of them as complex chemical compounds.
In fact, every food we eat — whether a justpicked strawberry or a homemade cookie — is made up of chemical compounds that determine flavor, color, texture and nutrient value. All food additives are carefully regulated by federal authorities and various international organizations to ensure that foods are safe to eat and are accurately labeled.
The purpose of this brochure is to provide helpful background information about food and color additives: what they are, why they are used in foods and how they are regulated for safe use.