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**Preservation Methods and Challenges**:
– Preservatives have been used since prehistoric times.
– Preservation methods have evolved, contributing to increased food security.
– Developing countries may face challenges with preservative levels in foods.
– Urban slums often lack knowledge about food contents despite consuming imported foods.
– The use of food preservatives varies by country.

**Types and Functions of Preservatives**:
– Antimicrobial preservatives prevent degradation by bacteria.
– Antioxidants slow the oxidation process that spoils food, especially high-fat content items.
– Nonsynthetic compounds like citric and ascorbic acids target enzymes that degrade fruits and vegetables.
– Commonly used preservatives include nitrites, sulfites, benzoates, sorbates, and propionates.
– The purpose of food preservatives is to extend shelf life, prevent spoilage, maintain freshness, inhibit microbial growth, and enhance color and flavor.

**Safety and Health Concerns**:
– Sodium nitrite and sodium benzoate may form carcinogens.
– Artificial preservatives can have negative side effects.
– Safety concerns include possible health risks, allergic reactions, overconsumption risks, regulatory standards, and long-term effects.

**Alternatives to Synthetic Preservatives**:
– Natural preservatives like rosemary, oregano extract, salt, and sugar are used.
– Organic acids, essential oils, plant extracts, and enzymes are alternatives to synthetic preservatives.
– Traditional preservatives like sodium benzoate have raised health concerns, leading to a reexamination of natural preservatives.

**Public Awareness and Education**:
– Food-borne illnesses are prevalent, with millions of cases annually in the US.
– Food suppliers face challenges balancing safety and quality with consumer demands.
– Public awareness of food preservation methods is crucial to address health concerns and ensure food safety.
– Educating consumers about preservatives, their functions, and potential risks is essential for informed food choices.

Preservative (Wikipedia)

A preservative is a substance or a chemical that is added to products such as food products, beverages, pharmaceutical drugs, paints, biological samples, cosmetics, wood, and many other products to prevent decomposition by microbial growth or by undesirable chemical changes. In general, preservation is implemented in two modes, chemical and physical. Chemical preservation entails adding chemical compounds to the product. Physical preservation entails processes such as refrigeration or drying. Preservative food additives reduce the risk of foodborne infections, decrease microbial spoilage, and preserve fresh attributes and nutritional quality. Some physical techniques for food preservation include dehydration, UV-C radiation, freeze-drying, and refrigeration. Chemical preservation and physical preservation techniques are sometimes combined.

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