Every event or celebration we always prepare food, especially if you’re the host, we always want our guests to be treated with the best accomodation and the best food that we can offer, so we then cook and prepare foods like spaghetti, which has high demand in a children’s party, chicken, ham, and pizza with juice or soft drinks on the side. Of course, with adults it is a different scenario. But what comes after these event that matters the most, it is the total number of food that will be preserved and wasted. Some of the untouched food will definitely be put inside the refrigerator while others will go inside the trash can. “The global volume of food wastage is estimated at 1.6 billion tonnes of primary product equivalents and a total food wastage for the edible part of this amounts to 1.3 billion tonnes,” according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, an agency of the United Nations that initiates programs to achieve food security and combat hunger. We can make simple steps on how to reduce these numbers by starting at home and that is to practice food management at the same time allows us to understand what contents affects our health in a positive and negative way. Therefore understanding preservatives will help us in managing our food and health for the long run.
We must understand that foods are substances that are consumed to provide energy and nutritional support to us and other living organism, most importantly they decompose immediately or rot. Learning preservatives will allow us to identify and understand what it is, how does it work, its methods, and effects but most importantly the preservatives to avoid.
What is a Preservative?
A preservative is a substance that is used to slow and prevent the decomposition of bacterial growth in a wide range of product such as medicines, personal care, wood, food and beverages. It is an important aspect of product development, as people use and consume these products, it helps protect these products from spoilage and contamination as harmful microorganisms grow rapidly. There are two ways on how to apply preservatives and that is through:
- Physical Preservation (Natural): This is the process of freezing and drying.
- Chemical Preservation (Synthetic): This is the process of adding chemical compounds to the product.
How do Preservatives Work?
Preservatives are highly used in the food industry as the preservation of foods has developed overtime and evolved greatly from smoking meat to adding additives to vegetables and fruits. Here are some preservative methods on food and how they work:
This is the process where foods are being dried out using the wind and the heat of the sun. In some practices they create and manage the heat so that they can dry foods at a faster rate. This practice removes moisture so that bacteria cannot grow.
This is the process where liquid and moisture turns into solid as microorganisms do not grow rapidly at very low temperatures as bacterias becomes inactive. This is a popular method of preservation as when the food gets defrosted the food stays the same in texture, color, or somehow flavor.
A process which uses microorganisms are used to ferment the starch from sugars and making them into alcohol content. One famous product that uses this process is the wines and beers. Wines are fermented grapes and beers are fermented grains, there are other known products that uses fermentation, such as kimchi which is more nutritious after fermenting by adding good bacteria inside the body.
This process uses salt to dry up the food and preserve it. Most people use this in meat and fish to prevent bacteria from growth as they cannot survive in this kind of salty environment.
The process for this type of preservation method uses vinegar and immerse the food into it, or other acids that has low pH level, which is good enough to kill bacteria, like beer and wine that affects the food’s texture and flavor.
These processes of preservation as used to fight spoilage from bacterias, fungus, and yeasts which makes them fresher and can be consumed for long periods of time. It is also done to slow the deterioration of the food’s content, color, texture, and adds further flavor to improve taste.
Preservatives to Avoid
As preservatives are used to improve food, there are additives that are used that may cause potential harm to a person’s health from these ingredients or contents. Additives are substances or chemicals used to enhance the food’s general quality for taste, color, texture, and slows spoilage. Here are some additives that needs to be avoided:
- Artificial Coloring: These are chemical based dyes that are primarily used to color food and drinks that may cause asthma, cancer, and chromosomal abnormality.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup: This is a simple sugar that is manipulated by adding enzymes that helps it convert into a fructose. This additive is believed to contribute to the risk of acquiring type 2 diabetes and obesity.
- Sodium Nitrite: This substance is used for the preservation of meat products like canned meats, sausages, and cured meats which is believed to may cause risk by gaining health problems like pancreatic cancer and other health related issues.
- Sulfur Dioxide: This content usually is found in beer, soft drinks, wine, juices, potato products, and vinegar to name a few as they are banned to be used in fruits and vegetables. As it pose risk to health and may obtain bronchial asthma, bronchitis, conjunctivitis, cardiovascular disease, and more.
- BHA and BHT: these are additives that are found in cereals, chewing gums, vegetable oils, and potato chips which keeps food from becoming rancid, or having that unpleasant smell and taste, that affects the brain and may cause cancer.
- Trans Fat: this substance is made from vegetable oil and added with hydrogen which is normally found in foods like cakes, biscuits, cookies, and crackers to name a few. It is believed that through this content it increases the risk of getting heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and affects cholesterol levels.
Our bodies react to many different things but mostly to the food that we eat. Preservatives and its processes will cause reactions to our body so it’s best to buy products that are approved by the food authorities of your country in this way it is safe to consume these products and you maintain a good health condition. Also, by knowing these things we understand what to buy and what we really need which gives us a sense of responsibility to ourselves in knowing what things we put inside our mouth and not to waste. This helps us and the environment, therefore, understanding preservatives will help us in managing our food and health for the long run.