Chemical food preservatives help to delay the growth of microbes in food. If it weren't for food preservatives, our bread would go moldy to fast, and our salad dressing would turn even faster.
Traditional methods of preserving, like salt, refrigeration, pickling, and freezing aren't always optimal for foods that need to be kept fresh. For this reason, food preservatives are a vital additive to the daily foods we eat.
Types of Food Preservatives
Food preservatives can be classified into two general categories: antimicrobials or antioxidants. Antimicrobials inhibit the growth of yeasts, bacteria, and molds. Antioxidants slow air oxidation of lipids and fats, which causes foods to go rancid too quickly.
Aside from simply giving food a longer shelf life, food preservatives are vital to preserving food during shipping. This is how people in Maine are able to enjoy California raisins, or for olive oil from Spain to be used in Missouri salad dressing.
If it weren't for food preservatives, we couldn't enjoy many of the great foods the world has to offer.
Common antimicrobial preservatives include sodium nitrate, calcium propionate, disodium EDTA, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, and sulfites. Common antioxidants include BHT and BHA: all are FDA approved.
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