Food Additives starting with A

Food Additives – A

Acacia – Gum arabic, derived from the Acacia sengal species, used as a binder and emulsifier. In icing mixtures, diet foods and diabetic foods, ice cream, and other sweets; many cough mixtures and lozenges; some cosmetics, soaps and skin care products; also in lithographic solutions, adhesive pastes, matches and fireworks, furniture and metal polishes, shoe polishes, sizing, varnish and water colors. Anaphylaxis (acute allergic reaction shortness of breath, rash, wheezing, hypotension) has been found in people working in the printing industry. 47

Acetic Acid – produced by fermentation of carbohydrates, commonly called vinegar. Also formed in the lower intestine as a byproduct of fiber digestion. can be synthesized from calcium acetate, a by-product of wood alcohol distillation. PETA claim that may also be derived from animal sources.

Acetate – a fiber formed of cellulose (plant based) used in the production of synthetic textiles such as rayon.

Acetone – during starvation or fasting, acetone forms as body fat is burnt, detectable on a person's breath. A ketone, used as a solvent Eg: nail polish remover, paint thinners.

Acetylated lanolin and tallow – see lanolin, tallow

Acetylcholine – essential for transmission of electrical impulses in the nervous system, memory formation and maintenance. It is created in the body from the B vitamin Choline, found in egg yolk, legumes and lecithin. Acetylcholine is absolutely vital to memory. Studies show that the brains of victims of Alzheimer's disease have lessened capacity to produce the chemical. Organophosphate pesticides block the action of acetylcholine and thus cause damage to the nervous system. 6, 27

Acidophilus – Bacterial culture added to milk to produce yoghurt. It has been suggested that lactobacillus acidophilus as the culture is called, may be helpful in relieving intestinal problems and candida.

Acids – many foods contain naturally occurring acids. Acids are used to preserve foods, to stop fungal and bacterial growth. They are also capable of coagulating proteins and thus mimicking the cooking process.

Active packaging – plastics designed to increase shelf life of specific products, they either have chemical agents impregnated in the plastic, or in sachet form.
Some types of active packaging are:
Ethylene Scavenging (using potassium permanganate) – used to slow ripening of fruits and vegetables;
Oxygen Scavenging (using iron oxide) – prevents colour change, off flavors and nutrient loss, the symptoms of rotting especially on products prone to mould: baked goods and cheese.
Carbon Dioxide Release – prevents microbial growth on meat, fresh strawberries and cheese. Research is not yet complete on this plastic, presently it is not being used in Australia.
Ethanol – sprayed on products as an anti-microbial agent, bread and cakes. Ethanol is not permitted as a food additive in Australia.
Sulphur dioxide – preservative that inhibits mould, sprayed on grapes. "Inadequate refrigeration can lead to residues in the grapes and unsightly bleaching of the fruit" 11 Additives

Aflatoxin – poisonous carcinogenic by-product of a mould which grows on peanuts, beans and corn.

Agar-agar – algae derived fibre, useful substitute for gelatine. Agar is used as a clarifying agent in brewing and wine-making, a thickener in some jellies, salad dressings, lollies, ice cream and manufactured meats. It has a flatulence producing effect if over consumed and is sometimes used as a laxative.

Ageing – studies have shown that a balanced diet low in fats, alcohol, sugar and salt, with a high content of fibre and carbohydrates tends to help the body fight cell degeneration that characterises ageing.

Ajinomoto – Japanese term for monosodium glutamate

Alanine – an amino acid that comprises part of most proteins. Released from the muscles during fasts.

Albumen – the white of an egg, albumen is also found in milk, muscles and blood.

Alcohol – produced by the fermentation of grains, sugars or fruits, used as a solvent, and as the active ingredient in wine, beer, etc.

Alcoholic beverages – some beers, especially light coloured , clear ones, may have been produced using isinglass: a clearing agent of pure gelatine derived from the swim bladder of sturgeon, carp and cod fish. The UK VegSoc say all cask conditioned beers and many keg, canned and bottled beers have used isinglass, however they list only European Vegetarian beers, they suggest that cloudy beers are not fined.
Cloudy beers do not require clearing. Coopers, Grolsch, Harp, Budweiser, Fullers and Heineken are brands that do not use animal ingredients. All German beers are vegan. "Bavarian purity laws limit them to 4 ingredients only: water, grain, hops and yeast." PETA
Organic wines are supposedly free of gelatine or isinglass, because most of them use cold filtering. Clare Estate, Eden Ridge (including 'David Wynn' and 'Mount Adam')and Dalwhinnie are Australian Organic wines with national distribution. The UK VegSoc recommends Eden Ridge and Orlando Jacobs Creek. See Also Wine. 36, 37
A complete list of vegetarian beers and wines is available from the UK Vegetarian Society.

Alfalfa – lucerne, grown for fodder for cattle, sprouted for human consumption

Algae – primitive micro-organisms, most containing chlorophyll. Algae are capable of producing significant amounts of protein from sunlight making them a viable alternative source if they could be made edible. Stanton claims that "the entire protein needs of the world could be produced in a volume of 1013 litres of algae" 1.

Algin – insoluble gelatinous substance obtained from principally from giant kelp used as an emulsifier and thickening agent

Alginate – seaweed derivative used to coagulate ice cream. Also used in soups, sauces, dressings, some jellies. Also used to describe synthetic yarns made from algin.

Alkaloids – organic compounds naturally occurring in many foods, they are toxic at high levels and included caffeine, strychnine, nicotine, quinine ( a malaria treatment derived from the bark of the Cinchona tree which is now commercially farmed) cocaine and morphine, but are also found in the skins of green potatoes and comfrey leaves. 1, 3

Allantoin (also alcloxa and aldioxa) – a product of the breakdown of uric acid, used to heal wounds. Found in foetal urine. Used in cosmetics and creams for the treatment of wounds, derived from cows. Comfrey extract also contains allantoin and is available in ointment preparations. 14, 3

Allicin – found in garlic and onions, allicin is thought to have cholesterol lowering properties.

Aloe Vera – the inner flesh of the leaves of the Aloe Vera plant, a species of cactus. Commonly used in cosmetic preparations, shampoos, and skin healing creams. Also available in powder and tablet form. Aloe Vera is claimed to heal skin irritations, arthritis, and high cholesterol (amongst other things), though nothing has been proved by conventional science.
Alternatives to animal testing – (PETA 14)
Eyetex and Skintex – Eytex, developed by InVitro International in Irvine, Calif., assesses irritancy with a protein alteration system. A vegetable protein from the jack bean mimics the cornea's reaction when exposed to foreign matter. The greater the irritation, the more opaque the solution becomes. The Skintex formula, also developed by InVitro International, is made from the yellowish meat of the pumpkin rind; it mimics the reaction of human skin to foreign substances.
Neutral Red Bioassay – Clonetics Corporation in San Diego, Calif., a water-soluble dye is added to normal human skin cells in a tissue culture plate with 96 "wells." A computer measures the degree to which the dye is absorbed by the cells, indicating relative toxicity and eliminating the observer bias, one of the factors that limits the effectiveness of tests on animals.
Tissue and cell cultures – Three companies have developed artificial "human" skin which can be used in skin grafts for burn victims and other patients and can replace animals in product tests. Marrow-Tech, headquartered in LaJolla, Calif., makes NeoDerm, which begins with the injection of skin cells into a sterile plastic bag containing a biodegradable mesh. The cells attach to the mesh and grow around it, like a vine on a garden lattice. After the segment of skin is sewn onto the patient, the mesh gradually dissolves. Biosurface Technology, of Cambridge, Mass., uses the patient's own cells to grow a skin to replace the epidermis (the top layer). Organogenesis Inc., also of Cambridge, has found customers for its Testskin in Avon, Amway, Estee Lauder, and other leading cosmetics companies.
CAM Test – uses fertilized chicken eggs to assess eye irritancy by showing the reaction of the chorioallantoic membrane to test substances
TOPKAT – software developed to predict oral toxicity and skin and eye irritation. It is used by the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Army.
Ames test – involves mixing the test chemical with a bacterial culture of Salmonella typhimurium and adding activating enzymes to the mixture. It was able to detect 156 out of 174 (90 percent) animal carcinogens and 96 out of 108 (88 percent) non-carcinogens.
Agarose Diffusion Method – designed in the early 1960s to determine the toxicity of plastics and other synthetic materials used in medical devices such as heart valves, intravenous lines, and artificial joints. In this test, human cells and a small amount of test material are placed in a flask, separated by a thin layer of agarose, a derivative of the seaweed agar. If the test material is an irritant, a zone of killed cells appears around the substance.
see also, Veterinarian Science and Vivisection.

Aluminium – implicated in the development of Alzheimer's disease, higher levels than normal have been observed in the brains of sufferers. Large amounts of aluminium are known to cause muscle and bone pain and weakness, as well as placental weakness. There is no proof that aluminium cookware contributes to overdose. Aluminium is used as an anti-caking agent in white flour, salt and dried milk substitutes. Also in eye makeup moisturisers, face powders and anit-perspirants. Aluminium compounds used in food products are sometimes derived from animal sources according to PETA

Ambergris – a fixative used in perfumery and as a flavouring, derived from the intestines of sperm whales. 14, 3, 47

Amylase – enzymes derived from plants or animals which catalyse the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar. May be prepared from the pancreas of hogs. 1, 3, 75

Anemia – condition where the body has a reduced number of red blood cells. May be caused by iron deficiency, especially for women who require about twice the amount of iron as men. Symptoms include tiredness, dizziness and shortness of breathe 1. Although meat is often posited as the best source of iron, it is present in most fruit and vegetables in conjunction with vitamin C which the body needs to absorb it.

Angora – fur derived from the angora breed of rabbit

Antibiotics – a substance produced by microbes farmed by humans. While antibiotics do control bacterial infections, they are useless against viruses, and are commonly over prescribed. They can also kill intestinal bacteria beneficial to digestion and thus create imbalance in the alimentary tract. Many people believe this can be offset by eating acidophilus yoghurt to restore the good bacteria.

Anti-oxidants – The process of oxidation contributes to the spoilage of foods. Anti-oxidants ( BHA, BHT, see Additives 320, 321) are commonly added to processed food containing fats to prevent rancidity, Sulphur dioxide is used in the processing of fruits to prevent discoloration. Fruit and Vegetables contain natural anti-oxidants. 1, 3, 48

Arachidonic Acid – occurs in the livers of mammals, used in eczema and rash creams. 14, 3

Aromatic Hydrocarbons – compounds derived from petroleum and coal-tar including benzene, toluene, xylene, styrene, methylnapthalene, phenol and cresol. Used in paints and paint strippers, adhesives, plastics and polystyrene, latex and rubber emulsions, some pharmaceutical and pesticides. All are implicated in triggering cancer and damage to the nervous system. 3, 17, 47 see toxicity, phenol, wood, petrolatum

Asparagine – Amino acid found in asparagus, non-essential, first isolated from sprouting soybeans. 46

Aspartic acid – an amino acid produced within the body from the metabolism of carbohydrates, found in plant and animal proteins. Aspartic acid is abundant in plants, especially in sprouting seeds. In protein, it exists mainly in the form of its amide, asparagine. Can be derived from molasses, or synthesized. 14, 1, 3, 46

Aspartame – A sweetener added to soft drinks, and chewable tablet medications and vitamins. A synthetic combination of aspartic acid and phenylalanine. The Adverse Reaction Monitoring System set up in the US in 1985 has received thousands of complaints , 95% of which are related to aspartame or sulphite preservatives. Aspartame has been blamed mostly for headaches. see also Sulphites. The US FDA sees no problem with aspartame. 13, 47

Aspic – gelatine based jelly

Aspirin – used as a pain killer and blood-thinner for people susceptible to blood clots, initially derived from the bark of a willow-tree, now synthetically produced from salicylic acid. 3

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