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Slows the breakdown of the product, helps proteins to bind, provides flavor and adds a sour taste.

Example: Acetic Acid



Reduces acidity of food, prevents bacteria growth.

Example: Sodium Bicarbonate


Anti-Caking Agent             

Prevents dry ingredients (like salt or flour) from sticking together.

Example: Magnesium Carbonate


Anti-Foaming Agent             

Prevents unwanted foaming and frothing that may occur during the processing; prevents boiling over.

Example: Propylene Glycol Alginate



Reduces growth and activity of microorganisms.

Example: Sodium Bisulfite



Slows down the damaging effects of air (oxygen) exposure thereby increasing shelf life, helps remove free radicals. May be natural or synthetic.              

Example: TBHQ


Controls the pH levels in foods.

Example: Aluminum Ammonium Sulfate

Bulking Agent             

Increases the bulk of food and adds mass without changing its nutritional value.

Example: Ammonium Chloride



Adds color to a product that may have been lost in processing or to enhance the presentation of food. May also intensify the natural color to make food look more attractive. May be of natural or synthetic origin. FD&C (Food, Drug and Cosmetic) numbers refer each to specific synthetic colors.              

Example: FD&C Blue No.2

Dough Conditioner             

Any chemical added to dough to strengthen texture, soften or improve baked good.

Example: Bromates


Allows water and oils (or other non-mixing ingredients) to be mixed together (such as mayonnaise).

Example: Soy Lecithin


The body uses parts this essential nutrient for various bodily functions including the creation of energy. In addition, certain vitamins (such as A, D, E and K) can only be absorbed in conjunction with fats. Fats are either a solid or liquid and can be created from animals, plants or synthetically produced. Often categorized as a saturated or unsaturated.

Example: Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil


Fat Substitute             

A lower calorie ingredient created to replace fat while still maintaining the unique properties of fat such as smoothness or creamy texture.              

Example: Olestra


An indigestible carbohydrate that changes the nature of the gastrointestinal tract and how nutrients are absorbed by the body. Can be soluble (absorbs water and is fermented in the colon) and/or insoluble (absorbs water throughout the digestive system thereby easing bowel movements) and comes from plants.              

Example: Cellulose Gum

Firming Agent             

Strengthens structure of food and prevents collapse during processing             

Example: Calcium Chloride


Gives food a particular taste or smell and may be derived from natural ingredients (natural flavoring) or created synthetically (artificial flavoring). Also may enhance existing flavors (flavor enhancers), intensify naturally occurring flavor, or boost those lost in processing (flavoring agent).

Example: Monosodium Glutamate

Gelling Agent             

Thickens, stabilizes, and provides texture through formation of gel. Some stabilizers and thickening agents are gelling agents.

Example: Agar

Glazing Agent             

Gives food a shiny appearance or protective coating.

Example: Carnauba Wax


Growth hormones are used used to stimulate the release of other hormones to cause a specific response in farm animals.

Example: rbST


Prevents food from drying out by retaining moisture.             

Example: Polydextrose

Leavening Agent             

Causes foaming action in dough which introduces gas bubbles thereby lightening and softening final product.

Example: Ammonium Bicarbonate


Required chemical for the body to live and grow. Nutrients needed in large quantities are called macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates) and those required in small quantities are called micronutrients (minerals, vitamins, elements). Nutrients are added to foods as fortification (enhancing food's nutritional value beyond what it contains naturally) or to compensate for what is lost from processing.

Example: Vitamin D


Prevents bacteria or other microorganisms from spoiling food

Example: Sodium Benzoate


Agent which binds itself to unwanted metals (such as copper, iron or nickel) thereby preventing a reaction with other ingredients and oxidation. Also referred to as a chelating agent.              

Example: EDTA


Gives product body and a firmer texture. Help to stabilize emulsions (non-mixing ingredients such as oil and water).

Example: Pectin


Sweetens food. Those that are not natural are referred to as artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are extremely sweet (can be 1,000 times sweeter than sugar), contain fewer calories, and usually don't impact blood sugar levels. They are often used in diabetic products and diet food.

Example: High Fructose Corn Syrup


Improves or assists in creation of a certain texture or consistency.

Example: Potassium Caseinate


Used to increases viscosity and body without modifying other properties in food such as taste. Some thickening agents are gelling agents.              

Example: Locust Bean Gum

Whipping Agent             

Increases and holds volume.              

Example: Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate

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