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Food additives are nonfood substances (natural and synthetic) added during processing to help preserve it, color it, improve flavor or texture, or add to its value. Vitamins, minerals, salt, spices, iodine, emulsifiers, thickeners, gums, starches, gelatin, benzoates, antioxidants - these are all food additives.  The U.S. FDA (Food adn Drug Administration) has classified many additives commonly used today as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) and may be used in most any food products. Other additives not on the list may be used, but generally require warnings - such as the sweetener Saccharin. Some formerly used additives have been banned, such as sulfites formerly used to preserve color in fresh fruits and vegetables. Other foods require labeling of sulfite content.

Since 1986 all food additives must be specifically listed on food labels. Just listing 'preservatives' or 'artifical color', etc. is not allowed - each additive must be listed individually.

The average American consumes about 150 pounds of food additives each year.

Throughout history some additives have also been used to adulterate food to increase the weight or quantity.  (See Umbrella Handles). 




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