News from CRIS: Food & Ingredient Safety - Food Additives

February 9, 2021

In prior posts, we’ve covered vital U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) safety topics, including Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) ingredients and Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations (CGMP). In this series, we take a look at the Food Additives Amendment of 1958.

What are food additives?

Direct food additives are ingredients that manufacturers and home cooks alike add to foods to help foods achieve their key characteristics. A direct food additive can be a flavor, color, preservative, or more (1).
Indirect food additives make their way into foods via packaging, storage, and handling. An indirect food additive can be a pesticide residue, plastic packaging ingredient, or more (1,2,3,4,5).
Since additives are part of our food system and to ensure food safety, the FDA put in place legislation that requires manufacturers to get approval for any food additive they plan to incorporate into a product before making it available to the public (1).

For example, if a food company created a new, artificial food coloring they’d like to sell to bakers or include in a new frosting, the company would need to work with the FDA to ensure safety before the food coloring could go on the market.

What do food additives do?

The FDA explains that food additives achieve one or more of three goals:

  • Maintain or improve food safety and freshness: These ingredients can include preservatives, antioxidants, packaging, and more.
  • Improve or maintain nutritional value: These ingredients can include vitamins, minerals, and more that help to fortify foods to improve their nutrition.
  • Improve taste, texture, and appearance: These ingredients can include spicesflavorsfood dyessweetenersthickenersanti-caking agents, leavening agents, and more.


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