Additives And Preservatives Used In Food Processing And Preservation, And Their Health Implication

Project and Seminar Material for Food Science and Technology (FST)

Additives And Preservatives Used In Food Processing And Preservation, And Their Health Implication


Food additives is a food preservation solution which involves exposes foodstuffs to a source of energy capable of stripping electrons from individual atoms in the targeted material (ionizing radiation). This method of food preservation can be referred to as a more advanced form of food preservation. Some school of thought criticize the use of additives for food preservation because of the negative impressions of the nuclear industry, and this has made additives one the most investigated forms of food preservation. Food additives has being endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO), and is currently being used in over 40 countries and approximately 500,000 tons of food items are irradiated yearly all over the world. This work has highlighted some problems associated with the use of food additives in Nigeria, and has also proffered solutions that can help tackle the said problems. This work has also discussed the process of food additives, the recommended sources and the dose range required for effective additives of food products.

Chapter One


Additives is “any substance the intended use of which result or may reasonably be expected to result directly or indirectly in its becoming a component or otherwise affecting the characteristics of any food”

(United States Government 1981).

Additives is any substance not commonly regarded or used as a food, which is added to or used in or on food at any stage to affect its keeping qualities, odaur, alkalinity or acidity or to serve any other technological function in relation to food (food labeling Regulations 1984).

Additives are a substance or mixture of substances, other than a basic foodstuff, which is present in a food as a result of any aspect of production, processing, storage or packaging (nutrition Board 1959).

Additives is non-nutritive substances added intentionally to food, generally in small quantities, to improved it’s appearance, flavour, texture or storage properties (A report of a joint FAO and WHO Expect committee 156).

Additives are any substance used in or around food that may become a component of the food.

Some are introduced specifically for the purpose of improving the nutritive value, taste, texture, or shelf life of the product; these are intentional additives other enters food as residues after some stage of production or manufacture and are known as incidental additives (introductory Nutrition 1989).

Additives are chemicals that are added to food to improve it in some way. Additives are used to modify colour, flavour and texture; to improve the keeping qualities of food and to make processing easier.

It is used to control moisture and acidity. They are used to improve nutritional value. Thousands of different substances are now used as additives, to some people. The increasing number of additives being used is a cause for concern, if not alarm, and if is important to emphasize that the use f additives is most carefully controlled ( Allan G. Cameron 1975).

Need for food additives.

Food additives play or important role in today’s complex food supply.

Never before has the range and choice of foods been so wide either in supermarkets, specialist food shops or when eating out. Whilst a shrinking purporting of the population is engaged in primary food production, consumer are demanding more variety choice and convenience alongside higher.

Standards of safety and wholesomeness at affordable prices.

Meeting these consumer expectations can only be achieved using modern food processing technologies which include the use of a variety of food additives proven effective and safe through long use and rigorous testing (Flowerdew, D. 1999).

How is the safety of food additive evaluated in Europe; All food additive must have a demonstration useful purpose and undergo a rigorous scientific safety evaluation before they can be approved for use.

Until the creation of the European food safety Authority mo (EFSA) 177, the safety evaluation of additives in Europe was done by the scientific committee on food (scf).

At present, it is the EFSA panel on food additives, flavouring, processing, Aids and material in contest with food (AFC panel) who is in charge of this task.

Assessments are based in reviews of all available toxicological date in the humans and animals models. From the available date, the maximum level of additive that has no demonstrable toxic effect is determined. This is called “ no-observed-adverse-effect level” (NOAEL) and is used to determined the “Acceptable Daily intake” (ADI) for each food additive. The ADI provides a large safety margin and is the amount of a food additive that can be consumed daily over a life time without any adverse effect on health (European parliament and council Directive 1988).

Groups of additive according to committee on toxicity:

  1. Group A: Additives that the available evidence suggests are acceptable for use in food.
  2. Group B: Additives that on the available evidence may be regarded meanwhile as provisionally acceptable for use in food, but about which further information is necessary and which must be reviewed within a specified time.
  3. Group C: Additives for which the available evidence suggests probable toxicity and which ought not to be allowed in food without evidence establishing their acceptability.
  4. Group D: Additives for which the available evidence suggests possible toxicity and which ought not to be allowed in food.
  5. Group E: Additives for which the available evidence was inadequate to enable an opinion to be expressed as to their suitability for use in food.
  6. Group F: additives for which no information toxicity was available.

Substance that is not on permitted lists must not be used for the preparation, manufacture and distribution of foods for sale to the ultimate consumer. In the case of colours, emulsifiers, stabilizers, solvents and most miscellaneous additives, there are no limitations on amounts used in foods although there are prohibitions of their use in certain classes of foods (Furia 1972).

Preservation is “any substance which is a capable of inhibiting, retarding or arresting the growth of micro-organisms or any deterioration of food due to micro-organisms or masking the evidence of such, micro-organisms are yeast, meld, Bacteria.

The use of preservatives to perseverance food has been a common practice for many centuries e.g. salt, sugar, vinegar; spices have been used in homes, for as long as man has been in existence (Britain food Regulations 1989).

Preservatives are centuries old, since ancient times, salt has been used to cure meats and fish, sugar has been added to fruits to conserve them, Herbs, spices and vinegar have also served as preservatives.

Today’, the U.S food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates food preservatives, arrested, mistakes have been made, which has resulted in taking some food preservatives off the market.

That is because at the time of approval, prevailing testing methods proved the substance as safe.

As science continued to evolve and testing methods improved, changes were made. Technology has also assisted in the approval process, as it has become more sophisticated over the years as well.

Preservatives are often present in nature but they are in such small quantities, difficult to obtain. To obtain commercially useful amounts of the preservatives synthetic copies of the natural products. Other preservatives are made in the series of chemical reactions. Typically, preservatives attack the enzymes inside the microbes and some can disrupt the microbe’s cell wall so that substances cannot enter, processes kill or seriously slow the growth of food-spoiling microbes.

Probably, the most important use of preservatives from the food safety point of view is in processed meats such as ham, bacon, salami and sausages. Bacteria like clostridium botulinum can produce deadly poisons and the use of preservatives in such products is absolutely essential. For example, most cured and cooked meats contain the preservative. Potassium nitrate (salt petre).

The ability to preserve food in good condition for long periods is an undoubted bon. The amount of food wasted is reduced and the incidence of food poisoning is minimized. A wider range of foods is available including foods “out of season” and foods from overseas that could not be transported and stocked in former times.

The widespread use of preservatives, refrigerators, ‘deep freezer’ equipment and canned and dehydrated food has made it easy for the consumer or caterer to have available a wide range of wholesome food at all times of the year. As we are suppressing the growth of micro organisms, an effective method of food preservation must retain, as far as possible, the original characteristics of the food and imparity nutritive value as little as possible (Saltmarsh, M. 2000).

We may say that without additives and preservatives, the very wide range of foods we have come to take for granted would not exist and most convenience foods could not be made.

Our food would be less attractive and less palatable and seasonal foods would not be available all the year round as they are now. Less food would be available in a fresh and prime condition and to put it bluntly – less food would be available.

1.2 Statement of Problem

Food, being the most important and only substance that is universally consumed by all humans and animals to stay alive, need to be handled or safe guarded properly because contamination anywhere along the food chain can have far reaching effects and sometimes fatal consequences. Food borne illnesses is a burden in terms of incapacitating people, causing discomfort, cost of pain, grief and suffering, disruption to industry and commerce and strain on the health service

A great proportion of diseases can be attributed to contamination of food and drinking water. Globally, food contamination creates an enormous social and economic burden on communities and their health systems. Nigeria, diseases caused by major food pathogens are estimated to cost up to 35 billion naira annually in medical cost and lost productivity.

This research work seeks to analyze the practice of food additives as a means of food preservation in Nigeria. Consequences and prospects.

1.3 Objectives of Study

  1. To assess food additives usage in Nigeria.
  2. To identify the health implications of additivesused in Nigeria
  3. To identify the prospects of food additives.

1.4 Methodology

Materials and Methods
Food Material

In the study the variety of cobalt-60 and cesium-137 emit from the experimental orchards of El Menzah of the INRA, in 1998 were used. These food had not undergone any previous treatment for conservation. Food materials received in bulk lots were sorted out to eliminate the damaged food and divided into 10 Kg lots for different treatments.

Additives Treatment

In both the studies, fruits were irradiated to doses of 125, 250, 375 and 500 Gy along with unirradiated control. The choice of these doses was based on an earlier study during the agricultural campaign of 1997, which established the optimal dose ranges for this variety without affecting the fruit quality. The results of these studies using doses of 0, 250, 500, 750 and 1000 Gy showed evidence of a faster decomposition of fruits after three weeks of storage when irradiated to 750 and 1000 Gy, whereas samples irradiated to 250 and 500 Gy could be stored for 45 to 60 days.

Therefore, for the present study doses up to 500 Gy were employed. Following additives fruits were stored at ambient temperature and 10oC, and the control samples at 0oC.

Before irradiating the experimental samples, dose mapping was carried out to determine the dose distribution in samples. Different devices were used for additives of the samples in the study.

Chapter Five

Conclusions and Recommendation

5.1 Recommendations

If food additives is to gain widespread usage in Nigeria, then the problems highlighted in the previous chapter needs to be addressed. This section will attempt to proffer possible solutions to the problems highlighted in the previous chapter.

A. Lack of Adequate Equipments

The fact that Nigeria has just one functional additives facility is a setback. If Nigeria has to measure up with other developed countries as regards the use of additives for the preservation of food and other materials commercially, then she will need to begin setting up more additives facilities at strategic locations, so as to enhance easy accessibility from all parts of the country. To address the above issues properly, a system must be put in place that brings public and private sectors together for active interaction. A cue could be taken from the Food Corporation of India, which has played a significant role in transforming the Indian food economy. It operates through a countrywide network of institutions and infrastructures at zonal, regional and district level (Oyewole and Oloko, 2006). Active co-operation between the relevant government agencies and the private sector will in more ways than one hasten the creation or construction of more additives facilities at strategic geo-political zones and locations in the country, in order to make this technology accessible to potential users.

Once these structures are put in place, it will also go a long way to address the issue of transportation. Once GIFs are available at strategic geo-political zones and locations in the country, places where production is high, then the constraint of moving food produce over long distances will be considerably minimized.

B. Cost Arising From the Actual Service

There is also need for production incentives in terms of favorable pricing linked with efficient marketing facilities, if losses are to be reduced. In Nigeria, however, incentives are generally minimal or non-existent. There is no provision for cushioning farmers against periods of sharp price fluctuations. The issue of price assurance must be addressed so that the farmer can increase production to levels that will ensure stability of supplies to meet both normal and emergency requirements.

Also, the slight increase in price for irradiated food is insignificant considering the benefits the consumers get in terms of convenience, improved hygiene of the food, quantity and availability (Frenzen et al., 2000).

C. Lack of Adequate Sensitization

To solve the issue of inadequate sensitizations, there should be a platform for extension agents to actively disseminate information on improved storage techniques to farmers in the rural areas through use of mass media (e.g. radio/television) and farmers groups. Available sources of storage technologies should also be communicated to farmers by the zonal extension service.

Also, the use of some modern storage technologies requires specialized skills and technical know-how which farmers are lacking. Farmers should be trained on the use of these improved storage methods such as storage by additives. Institutions, the government and other organizations should arrange regular workshop training for farmers and those who operate agricultural machinery, in a bid to educate and familiarize them with this technology, and to encourage its adoption.

D. Transport System

Also necessary, is the Construction of Feeder Roads. These must be built to convey the large amounts of farm produce now wasting away in the fields because of lack of transport facilities. This problem can also be solved setting up more additives facilities at strategic locations, so as to enhance easy accessibility from the farms to the facility.

5.2 Conclusion

This report has attempted to discuss the prospects and problems associated with the use of food additives as a food preservation method in Nigeria. Food additives is a food preservation method which involves the process of exposing foodstuffs to a source of energy capable of stripping electrons from individual atoms in the targeted material (ionizing radiation) (Anon, 1991). This method of food preservation can be referred to as a more advanced form of food preservation. Some school of thought criticize the use of additives for food preservation because of the negative impressions of the nuclear industry, and this has made additives one the most investigated forms of food preservation. Food additives has being endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and is currently being used in over 40 countries and approximately 500,000 tons of food items are irradiated yearly all over the world.

The common sources of ionizing radiation recommended by the codex general standard for use in food additives include;

Gamma rays produced from the radioisotopes cobalt-60 (60Co) and celsium-137 (137Cs) Machine sources generating electron beams and x-rays.

Machine sources have the advantage that no radioactive substance is involved, and it can be switched off and on with the just the push of a button.

Though food additives brings about some chemical changes in food, these changes are not different from those that occur when food is exposed to other forms of food processing or probably when food is cooked. However based on hundreds of scientific tests, there is a broad agreement among scientists and health agencies that these changes do not pose a human health issue.

Food can be irradiated either in its prepackaged form or its packaged form depending on the type of food product. The food products are exposed to ionizing radiation over a particular period of time, to achieve the desired and recommended dose rate. This process is carried out in specially designed and shielded facilities so as to avoid incidences of environmental pollution.

In Nigeria, food additives has not gone beyond the experimental stages. But with the present efforts of some relevant government agencies such as the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) and Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC), and also some promising research from various scholars in Nigeria, there is a promising indicator that this technology will soon reach its stage of commercialization in Nigeria.

The problem of population-food imbalance, caused by food wastage and spoilage is common to most developing nations of the world including Nigeria. One of the effective strategies that can be used in solving this problem is to reduce the amount of food lost in the post-harvest system. Several investigations by Nigerian scholars have confirmed that food additives will adequately help reduce spoilage and wastage of some basic food products in Nigeria.

The Nigerian government under the directive of the NAEC also shares the same view and as such have begun to put some structures in place so as to enable meaningful research work on the usefulness of this technology on Nigerian food products and to facilitate the smooth introduction of this technology in Nigeria. It is in this light that the NAEC created six nuclear research centers among which is the Nuclear Technology Centre (NTC), Sheda Science and Technology Complex, for research and development (Agedah, 2014), which houses a 340 kCi Co-60 Gamma additives Facility (GIF). This facility is currently being utilized by various researchers in the country.

Despite all these efforts, there are still some critical issues that need to be addressed for the smooth introduction of this technology in Nigeria. These problems include; lack of adequate additives facilities, cost of procuring this service, cost of setting up more additives facilities, lack of adequate sensitization etcetera.

If additives is to gain widespread use in, then the highlighted problems would need to be adequately tackled.

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