Whereas the food industry quickly evolves, the need to ensure food safety and quality is essential, and one of the key elements in this process is antioxidant food additives. These substances play a crucial role in protecting foods from oxidation and spoilage, maintaining their freshness and quality. In this Blog post we will explore how antioxidants are increasingly present in the Food Industry, and how Amerex has aligned itself with more natural antioxidant alternatives through the Up4Health project.

What is oxidation?

Oxidation is a natural process that happens when food is exposed to oxygen and other environmental factors. This process in food can lead to the degradation of essential nutrients, alterations in its physical, chemical and organoleptic properties, as well as the formation of undesirable compounds.

The effects of oxidation in foods can be detrimental, as they can alter both the sensory properties and nutritional quality of products. Oxidation can lead to the formation of undesirable compounds, such as free radicals and degradation products, which can affect the taste, odour and the visual aspect of foods. In addition, the loss of essential nutrients during oxidation can reduce the nutritional value of products.

What is the role of antioxidant food additives?

Antioxidants are compounds that help preventing or slowing down oxidation. These antioxidant food additives act as “shields” that fight the damaging effects of oxidation by neutralizing free radicals, unstable molecules that can trigger chain reactions of deterioration. In this way, the food stays fresh and maintains its original properties for much longer.

Therefore, in the food industry, antioxidants play a vital role in extending the shelf-life of products and maintaining their quality. They also play an important role in human health, as certain antioxidants have also been shown to have beneficial properties for the body.

How do antioxidant food additives have an impact on food quality?

The ability of antioxidants to protect food from oxidation translates into a longer shelf-life for food products. This not only benefits producers and distributors by reducing food waste, but also ensures that consumers have access to fresh, high quality food for a longer period of time. Preserving the sensory and nutritional characteristics of food is critical to maintain customer reliability and satisfaction, and ultimately to ensure a brand’s success in the marketplace.

The quality of food is intrinsically linked to its taste, texture and appearance. Antioxidants play a crucial role in preserving these qualities. For example, they prevent fats and oils from going rancid, maintain the vivid, fresh colour of fruits and vegetables, and prevent the formation of undesirable flavours.

Antioxidant food additive in a wooden bowl

What are the main antioxidant food additives?

Antioxidants, whether natural or synthetic, enable manufacturers to maintain the freshness, quality and safety of foods reaching consumers. Antioxidant food additives used in the industry are classified in the E-3XX group. Some of the important ones are the following:

  • E-300 – Ascorbic acid: Synthetic or natural antioxidant also known as vitamin C. In addition to having antioxidant properties, it also acts as a flavour enhancer and helps preserve the colour of certain foods. It is used in products such as beverages, meat products and baked goods. This compound can also be found in the form of salts, ascorbates (from E-301 to E-303).
  • E-392 – Rosemary extract: It contains natural antioxidant compounds, such as rosmarinic acid and carnosols, which help prevent food oxidation. It is a semi-natural antioxidant that was not originally considered an additive with E-number, but because of its high use it was eventually classified as such. These extracts are popular choices in products such as processed meats and dried sausages.
  • E-307 al E-309 – Tocopherols: Also known as vitamin E, it is obtained synthetically and added to foods to prevent oxidation of lipids and oils. Vitamin E can be found naturally in vegetable oils, nuts and cereals. Its presence helps maintain the freshness and quality of products such as vegetable oils, margarines and baked goods.

These and other antioxidant food additives play a crucial role in protecting products against oxidation and spoilage.

Are there any natural alternatives to the main antioxidants?

Indeed, as for other preservatives, there do exist natural alternatives to antioxidant food additives. As we have already mentioned, most of them are already present in nature and many manufacturers prefer to use them rather than putting an E-number on their labels.

In this sense, we wanted to mention the UP4HEALTH project that we introduced a few months ago and on which we have been working for three years now. The objective of UP4HEALTH is to develop techno-functional and bio-functional ingredients from by-products of food processing of plant origin, to use them in industries such as food, nutraceuticals or cosmetics. These active compounds are mostly antioxidants found in many fruits, vegetables and plants. So far we have obtained successful results in meat products such as hamburgers or dried sausages, in which their high antioxidant capacity and the very important role they play in extending the commercial shelf-life of foods have been demonstrated. The UP4HEALTH project has been an initiative in which we are very proud to participate, and we will continue to work on the development of new antioxidant alternatives that we can bring to you in the near future.

Where can you find these clean and effective antioxidant alternatives?

At Amerex we have always stood out in the industry for our focus on innovation and quality, being committed to improving the shelf life of food and ensuring that consumers have access to safe and healthy products. Clearly and with a deep understanding of the challenges facing the food industry, antioxidant food additives have always been integrated into our philosophy, and recently aligned with the current trend towards cleaner, more conscious and balanced eating through a special focus on natural alternatives.

In addition, at Amerex we have the AMEXOL range of products based on plant extracts that are specialists in fighting oxidation of the final food. The synergies of this range together with Amerex biotechnology result in more complete products that combine this technology with its natural preservative power, and shelf-life and food safety with the prevention of oxidation as described above. This strategy will help you preserve food quality and shelf-life, providing consumers with fresh and safe products and keeping their sensory and nutritional properties unaltered for a longer period of time.

We will be pleased to find the most suitable solution for you as a manufacturer in the search for a real efficacy that preserves the original characteristics of your food. Our door is open, contact us!


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