Additives are an inconspicuous presence in our food. We can taste it, but we do not see or typically know if it is present unless the ingredient list is read in full. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the term refers to any substance added to food.

The FDA states more specifically, “food additives are any substance the intended use of which results or may reasonably be expected to result – directly or indirectly – in its becoming a component or otherwise affecting the characteristics of any food.”

This definition includes any substance used in the production, processing, treatment, packaging, transportation or storage of food.

There are three main reasons why food or color additives are included in food production. The first is to maintain or improve safety and freshness. The second reason is to improve or maintain nutritional value. Lastly, food additives improve taste, texture and appearance.

In accordance to specific rules in the Delaney Clause, the FDA has removed seven flavor additives from being used in food manufacturing. The Delaney Clause is legislation, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1958, that forbids the use of any food additives that can be carcinogenic to animals or humans. Therefore, these seven additives are removed based on this law. 

The removed flavors are synthetically-derived benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, eugenyl methyl ether (methyl eugenol), myrcene, pulegone and pyridine. The seventh flavor, styrene, is being delisted because it is no longer used. This action is based on the law, not because they are unsafe to use at the recommended usage level. 

These flavor compounds are naturally found in grapes, pineapples, oranges and other foods. They were used in bakery and confectionary processing.

For more information on food additives, visit the www.fda.gov website. If you have other questions on this topic or others, contact the K-State Research and Extension – Leavenworth County office at 613 Holiday Plaza in Lansing, by phone at 913-364-5700 or email Chelsi Myer directly at chelsim@ksu.edu

Chelsi Myer is a family and consumer sciences agent for K-State Research and Extension – Leavenworth County.