Historical facts you should know about food additives
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Historical facts you should know about food additives


● The use of food additives in China has a long history, but scientific supervision started later.

The ancients used a lot of food additives, such as brine (coagulant) used in the production of tofu, alkali (acidity regulator) added to steamed bread and baking soda (leavening agent) used in bread, are common food additives.

● Melamine, Sudan red, hanging white, industrial gelatin, etc., are non-edible substances, not approved for use as food additives.

● According to the provisions of the law and compliance, according to the dosage of food additives, its safety is guaranteed.

When it comes to food additives, many people will think that they are harmful chemicals, which are used by businesses to learn from foreign countries in recent years. Many people also think that ancient people did not use food additives, still made delicious food. Or is it? Did the ancients really not use food additives?

Food additives have been used for more than 10,000 years

Food additives are artificial or natural substances added to food to improve the quality of food color, aroma and taste, as well as the needs of anti-corrosion and processing technology. Research shows that as early as 10,000 years ago, humans have begun to use food additives. So, what are the additives used? From a worldwide perspective, the early human use of food additives may be salt. Moreover, salt was first discovered by the Chinese.

In Chinese, the word "salt" means "boiling brine in a vessel". "Shuwen" said: the natural called brine, boiled called salt. According to experts, the Chinese learned to cook sea salt around the time between Shennong (Yan Emperor) and Yellow Emperor, that is, as late as 5000 BC to 3000 BC. In the 1950s, the cultural relics of frying salt utensils unearthed in Fujian Province just proved this point. The main component of table salt is actually sodium chloride. Although salt is not managed as a food additive, it is actually a chemical substance, and it is actively used by humans to improve the taste of food and supplement nutrients to the human body. Because salt is an indispensable substance for the human body to carry out normal physiological activities, each person needs about 5-6 grams per day.

In the beginning, human beings lived by hunting, and their main food was the meat of wild animals, and the salt needed for the body could be obtained from meat. However, with the advent of human settlement and agricultural production, access to salt became a problem. In this sense, the discovery and purposeful use of salt has become an intrinsic need of human life. Therefore, historians also believe that the emergence of food additives is not accidental, but the product of the development of human society to a certain stage.

There are many records on food additives in the past dynasties

If we look at the history of food additives, we will find that in fact, our ancestors began to use food additives in food from a very early time, and it is with the help of food additives that we can eat a lot of traditional delicious.

According to historical records, during the Zhou Dynasty, the Chinese people already used cinnamon to enhance fragrance, which is actually the same principle as the fragrance and spices used today. However, the ancient extraction technology is not developed now, and the flavor used now is higher in purity.

As early as the Eastern Han Dynasty, about 25-220 AD, Chinese ancestors began the tradition of using coagulant brine to make tofu.

Since the Southern Song Dynasty, the proportion of food additive formula of "one alum, two alkali and three salt" has been applied to the frying of youtiao. This technique has been used ever since. But now scientific research has found that the traditional practice of using alum is easy to cause too much aluminum intake, and modern technology has developed aluminum-free churros.

According to the "Food Classic" records, in the Wei and Jin dynasties, people applied the fermentation technology to the steaming of steamed buns, and in order to solve the problem of noodles fermentation, people used the technology of adding alkali noodles.

Nitrite is also used. Nitrite, as a food additive, has been used in the production of cured meat since the Song Dynasty in China, and its function is anti-corrosion and color protection. This technique was introduced into Europe in the 13th century, and was widely used in European society, and was also favored by local people. In other words, many of the delicious sausages in Europe today can also be counted as thanks to China.

In the 6th century, Jia Sixie, an agricultural scientist, also recorded the method of using natural pigments for food in his book Qi Min Yao Shu.

There are many other examples in history.

Regulation of food additives in China started late

It can be seen that the history of the use of food additives in China is very long, but because of the different appellation of "additives", coupled with many people's understanding of additives lag, leading to the misunderstanding of food additives. Of course, another point is that although China has a long use time, the supervision of food additives has started later.

This has a lot to do with historical development, especially the special reasons of modern Chinese history. Since 1981, China has formally managed food additives and promulgated a "Health Standard for the use of Food additives" (GB2760), which has been only 36 years. The management of food additives in developed countries has a history of more than 100 years. For example, Japan from the Meiji Restoration period (1860s) began to legislative management of food additives.

In recent years, a large number of reports say that food additives are harmful to health, such as Sudan red, hanging white block incident. In fact, this is a misunderstanding of food additives. Substances such as Sudan red and hanging white are not "food additives" at all, but belong to "illegal additives", the difference between the two is that "food additives" are state-approved substances that can be eaten, and "illegal additives" are not allowed to be eaten at all.

In fact, China now has strict and detailed standards for the scope and dosage of various types of food additives, and the food additives allowed to be used according to the regulations have gone through a full range of scientific and strict safety testing and evaluation. At the same time, the law also stipulates that only food additives that are technically necessary can be included in the scope of permitted use. In addition, the synthetic food additives currently approved for use in China are already approved for use in more than two developed countries. Therefore, after years of exploration and management, it can be believed that the safety of food additives is guaranteed as long as they are used in strict accordance with the varieties and doses prescribed by the state. All along, the industry firmly supports the regulatory authorities to continue to crack down on the illegal addition of non-edible substances and the excessive and excessive use of food additives; It also calls on enterprises to strictly abide by relevant national regulations in the production process and rationally use food additives.


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