Food Testing & Analysis – Preservatives

Food Testing & Analysis - Preservatives
Food Testing & Analysis – Preservatives

A preservative is a substance that is added to foods to prevent microbial decomposition or undesirable chemical changes. Artificial preservatives reduce the risk of foodborne infections, decrease microbial spoilage, and keep the food fresh and nutritious.

Preservatives are normally categorized into two classes:

Class I: Those which are naturally available e.g. common salt, sugar, dextrose, spices, vinegar, honey, and edible vegetable oils.

Class II: These are chemically synthesized compounds e.g. benzoic acid and its salts, sulfurous acids and its salts, nitrates or nitrites of sodium or potassium used in foods like ham and pickled meat.

Preservatives are used to increase the shelf-life of a food product while retaining its nutritional value. Depending upon the purpose of their usage in the food products, preservatives can be further categorized into antimicrobial and antioxidant.

Antimicrobial preservatives: These prevent degradation by bacteria. This method is the most traditional type of preserving, such as pickling and adding honey to prevent microorganism growth by modifying the pH level. The most commonly used antimicrobial preservative is lactic acid. Nitrates and nitrites are also antimicrobial. These chemical compounds inhibit growth of the bacteria or inhibit specific enzymes.

Chemical compoundUse
Benzoic acid and sodium benzoateFor preservation of acidic foods such as jams, salad dressing, juices, pickles, carbonated drinks
Hydroxybenzoate and derivativesUsed in a broad range of pH conditions
Nitrate; NitriteUsed in meats
Propionic acid and sodium propionateUsed in bakery products
Sulfur dioxide and sulfitesCommonly used for fruits
Sorbic acid and sodium sorbateCommon for cheese, wine and baked food

Antioxidant preservatives: Oxidation occurs when the food comes in contact with the oxygen, present in the air. Fats are particularly prone to oxidation; they quickly turn rancid upon coming in contact with oxygen. Oxidation can be prevented by adding antioxidants as preservatives. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and ascorbates are the most common antioxidant to be used as a preservative. These are often added to oil, cheese and chips. Other antioxidants include phenol derivatives such as butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), which are used in food packaging. Sulfur dioxide and sulfites are used as preservatives for wine and other beverages.

In harmony with the international laws and regulations pertaining to the use of preservatives, the FSSAI has specified guidelines for permissible limits of preservatives in a food product, as their excessive use could lead to health problems.

In compliance with the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011, we provide services to the FBOs. Our laboratory has state-of-the-art instrumentation to analyze preservatives in food products. We also provide consultation on labeling requirements concerning preservatives for packaged food products. Importantly, our food testing lab has been identified among the top 5 national level labs in India and is accredited by NABL and approved by FSSAI for testing of food items.

Please contact us today using the quick query form on the right or by calling us now on +91-11-45754575 to get your food samples tested for Preservatives.

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