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Study Material Notes on Chemicals in Food (Artificial Sweeteners & Preservatives)

Artificial food additives are debatable, but they aren’t as dangerous as they appear. Artificial food additives, as their name implies, are synthetic substances added to food to improve its colour or flavour and extend its shelf life. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees the safety of all food additives on the market. Still, you could wonder if it’s a good idea to limit your intake of these components. Around 80% of the packaged foods we eat include a range of chemicals.

What are Food Sweeteners and Preservatives?

Several chemicals, called food additives, are added to food during processing to lengthen its shelf life and improve its appearance. The following are the primary types of food additives:

  1. Colours in foods
  2. Sweeteners and flavourings
  3. Antioxidants are the third group.
    • Emulsifiers and stabilisers of fats
    • Flour enhancers
    • Preservatives
  4. Vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional supplements

All others, except nutritional supplements, have no nutritional benefit. These are added to extend the shelf life of stored foods or improve their appearance. Antioxidants, preservatives, fat emulsifiers, stabilisers, and flour improvers are used to extend the shelf life of stored foods, while colours, flavours, and sweeteners are employed to improve the appearance.

Artificial Sweetening Agents

Chemical substances in foods have a sweetening effect and improve their fragrance and flavour are known as artificial sweetening agents.

Sucrose, lactose (milk sugar), cane syrup, and honey are the most often used natural sweeteners; however, they increase our caloric intake. Many people prefer artificial sweeteners. Diet beverages, ordinary soft drinks, and low-sugar goods contain artificial sweeteners.

Let’s understand that these sweetening agents contain negligible calories and do not affect the teeth. Such sweeteners are also recommended for diabetics; excessive use of these sweeteners should be avoided as they are not metabolized and can therefore affect the human kidney. Some important artificial sweeteners are:

1. Saccharin (ortho-sulphobenzimide)

It’s the most widely used artificial sweetener. Since its discovery in 1879, it has been employed as a sweetener in a variety of dishes. It’s a white crystalline powder made up of 1,2-benzothiazole-3-one-1,1-dioxide. It is around 550 times sweeter than sucrose and has a highly sweet taste. When consumed, it is eliminated unchanged in the urine and seems inert and harmless. Diabetics and others who need to keep their caloric intake under control would benefit greatly from it.

2. Aspartame

One of the most regularly used artificial sweeteners is aspartame. It’s a methyl ester of a dipeptide made up of aspartic acid and phenylalanine (aspartic acid and phenylalanine). It has 200 times the sweetness of sucrose. Because aspartame is unstable at high temperatures, it is commonly employed as a sugar substitute in cold foods and soft drinks.

3. Alitame

It’s 10 times sweeter than cane sugar of the same mass. Alitame is a high-potency sweetener that is more stable in the kitchen than aspartame. However, alitame and other high-potency sweeteners have the drawback of making it difficult to manage the sweetness of the additional meals.

4. Sucralose

This artificial sweetener is a sucrose trichloro derivative. It’s around 660 times sweeter than cane sugar, but the two have the same physical appearance. Sucralose has a calorific value of practical nil and is stable at cooking temperatures.

Food Preservatives

These are chemicals in food that prevent them from spoiling and keep their nutritious content for a long time. Moisture-containing food deteriorates owing to microbial growth. The use of food preservatives can limit the growth of germs in a food source. Food preservatives are divided into two groups:

  • First Class: Table salt, sugar, and vegetable oils are examples of preservatives.
  • Second Class: Chemical preservatives are used in this recipe. Humans should not be harmed by the chemical ingredient employed as a food preservative. Chemical preservatives are chemicals applied to food to keep it from rotting. Two chemical preservatives are allowed to be used in our country:

    – Benzoic acid (Sodium benzoate): To preserve food, benzoic acid or its sodium salt, sodium benzoate, is commonly employed. Because sodium benzoate is soluble in water and easily blends with the food product, it is used as a preservative in fruits, fruit juices, pumpkins, and jams..

    –  Potassium metabisulphite: Colourless goods such as lychees, pumpkin, fruit juices, raw mango chutney, and apples are pre-packaged with potassium metabisulphite or sodium metabisulphite. Because the sulphur oxide produced by these compounds is a bleaching agent, they are not employed to preserve coloured foods. These preservatives produce sulphur dioxide when they react with the acid in the juice, which is particularly powerful at killing hazardous germs in the food.


Several chemicals are added to food during processing to lengthen its shelf life and improve its appearance. Food additives are what they’re called. Food additives include colourants, preservatives, flavourings, sweeteners, antioxidants, fat emulsifiers, and stabilising agents. Food that has been tampered with has a direct impact on public health. It is a severe issue, particularly among the malnourished. Chemicals in Food (Artificial Sweeteners & Preservatives) study material is your comprehensive guide incorporating all required information needed to master the topic.