Spotlight on Ingredient Processing Aids

Spotlight on Ingredient Processing Aids

Ingredient Processing Aids

A lot happens to food as it travels from the farm to the consumer. When you buy food products from the grocery store, chances are that the product has undergone processing to maintain its wholesomeness. Food processing is the transformation of raw materials into food. This involves adding certain substances to help maintain the freshness, nutrient value, color and flavor of foods.

Processing aids are additives approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), used in the production of a variety of foods. Almost every product on grocery shelves today contain at least one processing aid. They are used in the production of a variety of food products including vegetables, dairy products, baked goods, spices and so on.

According to the Codex Alimentarius standards, the internationally-recognized standard in food production, processing aids are defined as:

  1. Substances that are added during the processing of a food but are removed in some manner from the food before it is packaged in its finished form;
  2. Substances that are added to a food during processing, are converted into constituents normally present in the food, and do not significantly increase the amount of the constituents naturally found in the food; or
  3. Substances that are added to a food for their technical or functional effect in the processing but are present in the finished food at insignificant levels and do not have any technical or functional effect in that food.

Processing aids have several functions; they reduce impurities, maintain pH, inhibit crystallization and most importantly, these substances preserve food and lessen contaminants, preventing food borne diseases. Fortunately, processing aids do not alter the taste, smell or appearance of food.

Commonly used processing aids

There are hundreds of food processing aids approved by the FDA and deemed safe for consumption. Some substances are categorized as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS). These processing aids are used in insignificant amounts and pose no potential health concerns. Listed below are some of the FDA approved processing aids and their uses

  • Organic acids and chlorine washes are used for washing fruit and vegetables before packing.
  • Anti-caking agents like calcium carbonate and sodium ferrocyanide are used to prevent formation of clumps and stop ingredients from sticking together. They are added in powder or granulated products like salt, cake mixes and powdered milk.
  • Stearoyl lactylate is widely used as a strengthening agent found in the dough of bread, waffles and pancakes.
  • Joining agents and enzymes like rennet help bind milk together and are used in the processing of cheese and yogurt.
  • Thickening and stabilizing agents such as gums, gelatin, protein and starches increase viscosity of the final food product.

Food Processing Aids used in NP Nutra® Products

Although food processing aids are ultimately removed from the final food product, some remain present in minute amounts and do not pose any health concerns. It is important to recognize that not all processing aids are made of potentially harmful chemicals. There are a number of naturally-occurring substances that are plant or mineral based, meet the specifications of the Codex standard and are not harmful when ingested.

NP Nutra® ingredients are produced using safe and naturally-occurring food processing aids without compromising food safety and hygiene.

  • Ascorbic acid is an antioxidant. It reacts to free radicals, slowing the deterioration of food.
  • Calcium Hydroxide and Magnesium Hydroxide are derived from natural occurring limestones. They are both used primarily as acid regulators.
  • Acacia gum is a dried gummy exudate from the branches of the acacia tree. It is used as an emulsifying agent, stabilizer and thickener.
  • Maltodextrin is a starch derived from rice, corn, potato or cassava. It is used as a stabilizer and thickening agent. Tapioca maltodextrin, derived from the cassava root, non-GMO corn maltodextrin and rice maltodextrin are examples of plant based thickening and stabilizing agents.
  • Naturally occurring silicon dioxide is found in sand, quartz and many plants. As a processing aid, it can be used as an anti-caking agent, de-foaming agent, stabilizer and adsorbent agent.
  • Tricalcium phosphate is a calcium salt. In food processing it is used as an agent for anti-caking, leavening, a stabilizer, acidity regulator and foaming agent.

For more information on processing aids in our products, please contact your Account Manager.