Types of food additives

Type of additiveFunctionExamples of foods
AntioxidantPrevents foods from oxidising, or going rancid, keeping it for longer.Ascorbic acid (E300) is added to some jams and fruit juices.
Bulking agentIncreases the bulk of a food without affecting its nutritional value.Methyl cellulose (E461) is used in cereal bars.
ColouringsAdded to food to replace colours lost during processing or to add colour to a food to make it more appealing.Patent Blue V (E131) is used in sweets.
EmulsifiersAllows water and oils to remain mixed together and prevents separation.Lecithin (E322) is used in mayonnaise.
FlavouringsAdded to foods to enhance their natural flavour or to add flavour to a food.Monosodium glutamate, or MSG (E621), is added to processed foods, especially soups and sauces.
PreservativesPrevents food from spoiling and extends shelf life.Sodium Nitrite (E250) is used in bacon and cured meats.
Stabilisers, gelling agents and thickenersGives food a firmer or smooth texture, gives food a gel-like consistency.Pectin (E440) is used in jams.
SweetenersAdded to foods to increase the sweetness.Saccharin (E954) is used in diet drinks.