In addition to artificial coloring, ingredients that enhance the visual appeal of foods include flour treatments and glazing agents. Packaging can be presented in an artistic way that enhances the look of food.
What are they used for? Oxidizing agents help strengthen the dough, while reducing agents weaken the flour by breaking the protein network and thus make the dough stronger. Enzymes speed up the reactions in dough for faster processing times.
Found in: Flour (natural flour without these additives is yellowish) and foods made with flour (breads, pastries, etc.)
- Potassium bromate, an oxidizing agent that bleaches baked goods, has been banned from use in food products in the EU, Canada, Nigeria, Brazil, South Korea, Peru, and China
- Potassium bromate is considered a category 2B (possibly carcinogenic to humans) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)
- Currently, potassium bromate is not banned in the United States; however, the FDA has encouraged bakers to voluntarily stop using it in their products
Glazing agents are natural or synthetic substances that coat and protect a food item. Common natural glazing agents include beeswax, carnauba wax, shellac, lanolin, paraffin, candelilla wax, and stearic acid. Common synthetic glazing, such as crystalline wax, is usually derived from petrolatum (a semisolid mixture of hydrocarbons obtained from petroleum) and mixed with natural agents.
What is it used for? Used to prevent water loss and to provide surface protection for food products. Makes fruit and vegetables appear shiny.
Found in: Fruit (coating), vegetables (coating), confections, chocolate, snack foods, cosmetics, chewing gum, soft drinks
- Some agents, such as carnauba wax and crystalline wax, can cause skin irritation
- If your family follows a vegetarian or vegan diet, note that beeswax and lanolin are animal products; lanolin usually contains pesticides from processing wool
Generally speaking, when making food choices for your baby, consider natural, whole foods compared to those with chemical additives. Foods with high amounts of synthetic ingredients can have a strong impact on your baby’s small body. Read labels on the packages of processed foods for information that will help you make purchasing decisions.