Chemicals in Food

Table of Content

What is the Chemistry of Food?

Study of chemical processes in food including interaction between all biological and non-biological components is known as chemistry of food. The biological substances includes meat, poultry, lettuce, beer, and milk.

Chemicals are essential building blocks for everything. Similarly, food is made up of chemicals. Chemicals in food are harmless. But still some are harmful and have toxic effects.

Chemicals in food to Avoid/Harmful Chemicals in Food

Some harmful chemicals that are found in food are as follows:

Packaging material used for food packaging such as bisphenol A, styrene and vinyl chloride are toxic in nature. Bisphenol A (BPA)

Bisphenol A (BPA) is found in reusable plastic food containers and the lining of food and beverage cans.

Structure of bisphenol AFig. 1. Structure of bisphenol A

Phthalates is found in some plastic food containers. Its exposure is associated with early puberty in girls, a risk factor for later-life breast cancer.

Structure of phthalatesFig. 2. Structure of phthalates

Styrene is found in food trays, egg cartons, disposable cups etc. Styrene is an animal mammary carcinogen and is possibly carcinogenic to humans.

Structure of StyreneFig. 3. Structure of Styrene

Vinyl Chloride is used to produce food packaging. It is designated as first carcinogen associated with increased mortality from breast cancer and liver cancer among workers involved in its manufacture.

Structure of vinyl chlorideFig. 4. Structure of vinyl chloride

BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are used in food industries as preservative. It is used to prevent oil from being oxidized. It is a derivative of phenol.

Structure of BHTFig. 5. Structure of BHT

What are the Chemical Preservatives?

Chemicals that are added to food, beverages etc., and other products to prevent microbial growth or any undesirable changes. They are added to reduce the risk of food borne infections. For example, benzoic acid, ascorbic acid, gallic acid, nitrite, nitrate etc.

Chemicals in Food Preservatives

There are three classes of chemical preservatives that are used in food industry:

  • Benzoates
  • Nitrites
  • Sulphites

Chemicals in Food to Avoid

List of chemicals that should be avoided in food are:

  • Artificial sweeteners
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Monosodium glutamate
  • Trans fat
  • Common food dyes

Artificial Sweeteners

They are commonly known as sugar substitutes. They are added to food to give sweetening effects. They are effective for weight loss, diabetes, dental care etc. The most common artificial sweeteners are aspartame, saccharin etc.

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