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Effect of food preservatives on food quality
Friday, 30 December, 2022, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Alisha Faleiro
The concept of food preservatives is not new; it dates back to ancient times when our ancestors used to hunt and save food for later use. But in modern times, owing to the busy lifestyles of individuals, there is an increased need for ready-to-eat food, which demands the usage of preservatives in order to extend the shelf life of food.

According to Mordor Intelligence, the India Food Preservatives Market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 3.86% between 2020 and 2025. The report also highlighted the fact that the driving reason behind the increase is the growing population and rising urbanisation, boosting the demand for food preservatives in the culture. Though not all food preservatives serve the same goal, the effect varies based on the individual's age, health, and most importantly, the food. As a result, individuals must learn how to discriminate so that they may use food preservatives without hampering the food quality or health. But, before we get into the influence on food quality, let's have a look at the different forms of food preservatives.

Food Preservative: The Need of the Hour
Cooking their favourite foods offers individuals a sense of accomplishment, but with today's hectic pace, people don't have the time to remain peaceful in the kitchen. As a result, food preservatives have developed into an urgent necessity. Preservatives and preservation procedures keep foods from rotting and oxidising, allowing supermarket producers to ship products across the country and worldwide without compromising on food safety or quality. As food preservatives become increasingly crucial in the preservation, safety, and freshness of food in our global food supply chain, many of the foods we enjoy today are the result of contemporary preservation procedures. Furthermore, there are two types of food preservatives to be aware of:

Natural Preservatives: These compounds are used to keep food "as it is." Their chemical composition is not changed, nor are they blended with any synthetic materials. These also have antioxidant qualities that slow the oxidation or ageing process. As a result, this is what a preservative must do: delay the ageing process of a food item in order to increase its longevity. Oil, sugar and salt are all naturally occurring preservatives. There are also several techniques for preserving foods. Curing, freezing, dehydrating, canning, jellying, and fermentation are some of them.

Chemical Preservatives: These preservatives are similarly employed to postpone rotting and contamination in foods, but they are synthetic in origin. Food labels are frequently referred to as "additives," so check the label carefully before purchasing. Ketchups, juice concentrates, baked goods, spreads, and jams may contain artificial preservatives.

Though the techniques are not mutually exclusive, we sometimes need to use both approaches to improve food longevity.

Effect of Preservatives
One of the most significant effects of food preservatives is that people do not have to worry about the food decaying before they can consume it. Eating additives are used in processed foods to extend shelf life and make food more convenient. There are certain types of additives, such as nitrites, that make the dish appear more appetising. Furthermore, using food preservatives can help reduce waste that harms the environment. Lastly, people can also feed others who have limited access to safe food.

The goal of food preservatives is to make food safer, and the amount of food preservatives used is sometimes important. Therefore, eating little amounts of food additives may be harmless, but eating a lot of processed foods may raise their chances of being obese or developing high blood pressure, heart disease, or cancer.

Limiting Preservatives is the Key
In today's world, everyone is preoccupied with their personal and professional lives. In this scenario, the usage of food preservatives is growing rapidly. Furthermore, not all food preservatives are healthy for individuals' health. Thus, people need to be careful while adding preservatives and ingesting packaged food that contains high quantity of preservatives in order to make sure that they are consuming good quality food.

(The author is executive pastry chef, APCA India)
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