Food additive-free eating

Additive free
Food additives are a variety of substances that can improve the shelf life, look, and taste of food. There are several types of additives and their use is regulated.

Which food additives are most commonly used?

The most common food additives can be classified into the following  categories: 

  • Monosodium glutamate or MSG

  • benzoates, sorbates, and sulphites (act as preservatives in food)

  • nitrates and nitrites (act as preservatives in food)

  • Sweeteners

  • Synthetic colours

Regulation of food additives:

All food additives must be assessed for safety by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) before being used by manufacturers. Find out more on the FSANZ website.

What Is the maximum permitted levels (MPL) of food additives

The MPL is the maximum amount of an additive legally allowed in a food product or when it's prepared according to packet directions. The MPL is set by the Food Standards Code and ensures that additives do not exceed safe levels, and compliance is subject to checks by auditors.

Examples of additives with an MPL are benzoates, sorbates and sulphites used as preservatives.

How can I identify additives on a product?

All food ingredients, including additives, must be listed on food labels. 

Furthermore, the function of the additive must be listed, along with its name or code number. For example: "thickener (pectin)", or "thickener (440)".

Most food additives have code numbers, which are part of an international numbering system. Code numbers may be used as they take up less space on the food label. They also help consumers avoid being confused by additives with similar names.

Flavours do not have to be named or identified with a code number on food labels. However flavour enhancers such as MSG and other glutamates (flavours found in foods containing protein) must be listed with their name or code number.

Navigating food additives with allergies

You may be among the small number of people who are sensitive or allergic to some food additives. Food labels will help you avoid certain additives when you need to. Make sure you read the labels to find out which additives are present in a food. Alternatively, use myWellabee’s Additive Free filter to search for products that are free of any additives. 

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