A preservative is a substance or chemicals that is added to food substances or beverages to prevent decomposition of microbial growth or to avoid undesirable chemical changes. Food preservation is an ancient technique that is practiced to preserve food products. This is practiced in different forms. Here are different types of food preservatives.
Food Preservatives is basically done for three reasons:
Sugar and salt are the earliest natural food preservatives that very efficiently drop the growth of bacteria in food. To preserve meat and fish, salt is still used as a natural food preservative.
Other natural preservatives in the category are alcohol, vinegar, etc. These are the traditional preservatives in food that are also used at home and while making pickles, jams and juices, etc. The freezing, boiling, smoking and salting also considered being the natural ways of preserving food. Coffee powder and soup are freeze-dried for preservation.
Chemical food preservatives have also been used for quite some time now. They seem to be the best and the most effective for longer shelf life. According to the International Institution of Health, here are some of the chemical food preservatives that are widely used-
Antioxidants are also the chemical food preservatives that act as free radical scavengers. In this category of preservatives in food comes Vitamin C, BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), bacterial growth inhibitors like sodium nitrite, sulfur dioxide, and benzoic acid.
Then there is ethanol that is one of the chemical preservatives in food, wine, and food stored in brandy. Unlike natural food preservatives, some of the chemical food preservatives are harmful. Sulfur dioxide and nitrites are examples. Sulfur dioxide, reportedly, causes irritation in bronchial tubes and nitrites are carcinogenic.
Artificial preservatives are the chemical substances that stop the growth of bacteria, spoilage, and discoloration. These artificial preservatives can be added to the food or sprayed on the food.