Why are acidity regulators added to food

Bread treated with sorbic acid does not go moldy.
Many acids and their salts are found in foods and perform various tasks there. According to the regulation on the labeling of foods, the ingredients of all foods must be declared. The ingredients are assigned E numbers (EC numbers), which are used uniformly in Europe. The additives are classified according to their function in the food:

Colorants (from E 100)
Dyes color the food, stimulate the senses and thus make it more attractive for sale. Unfortunately, some of the approved dyes are suspected of causing allergies.
Preservatives (from E 200)
They inhibit the growth of microorganisms such as mold, pathogens or putrefactive agents. They protect the food from spoilage and make it last longer. Some of this group, such as E260 or E297, are also suitable as acidulants.

Antioxidant (from E 300)
They protect against spoilage caused by atmospheric oxygen and prevent oxidation, for example when fat becomes rancid. This group also includes acidulants.
Thickening and gelling agents, stabilizers (from E 400)
These substances thicken the food by binding water. Jams and creams in particular contain such additives.

The acids and their salts benefit above all from their bactericidal effect and the sour taste. Without them, today's food production would be inconceivable. Acidity regulators keep the pH value of a food constant.

It is worthwhile to study the labeling carefully before buying a food, as some ingredients are not harmless. Carcinogenic nitrosamines can form in the body when nitrates or nitrites are consumed. Some dyes trigger allergies. The following tables are only an excerpt from the entire list:


E number SurnameOccurrences / remarks
E 100CurcuminRoot of the turmeric plant
E 101RiboflavinVitamin B2
E 102TartrazineAzo dye
E 104Quinoline yellowCan cause allergies
E 110Yellow orange SAzo dye, allergies possible
E 120Real carmineCochineal lice, allergies possible
E 122AzorubineAzo dye, allergies possible
E 123AmaranthAzo dye, allergies possible
E 124Cochineal red AAzo dye, allergies possible
E 127ErythrosineXanthene dye
E 131Patent blue VTriphenylmethane dye
E 132IndigothinWater-soluble dye related to indigo
E 160caroteneIn carrots
E 170Calcium carbonateWhite pigment and acidity regulator
E 171Titanium dioxideWhite pigment
E 172Iron oxidesRed, yellow or black pigments
E 173aluminumCoatings for sugar confectionery
E 174silverSilvery coatings of confectionery
E 175goldGolden coatings for confectionery
E number SurnameOccurrences / remarks
E 300Ascorbic acidvitamin C
E 301Sodium ascorbateVitamin C salt
E 302Calcium L-ascorbateVitamin C calcium salt
E 304Ascorbic acid esterVitamin C esters

Acidulants - acidity regulators
E number SurnameOccurrences / remarks
E 330Citric acidFruit acid in lemons
E 331Sodium citrateCitric acid sodium salt
E 334Tartaric acidObtained from wine residues
E 335Sodium tartrateTartaric acid sodium salt
E 338phosphoric acidCola drinks
E 339Sodium phosphateSodium salt of phosphoric acid
E 340Potassium phosphatePotassium salt of phosphoric acid
E 341Calcium phosphateCalcium salt of phosphoric acid
E 343Magnesium phosphateMagnesium salt of phosphoric acid
E 355Adipic acidSugar beet
E 363Succinic acidAmber, tomato and rhubarb juice

Thickening and gelling agents, stabilizers

E number SurnameOccurrences / remarks
E 400Alginic acidCell walls of species of brown algae
E 401Sodium alginateAlginic acid sodium salt
E 406Agar AgarCell walls of red algae species
E 410Locust bean gumSeeds of the carob tree
E 412Guar gumSeeds of the guar plant
E 413TragacanthGum from a plant of the genus Astragalus
E 414Gum arabicGum as a precipitate from a species of acacia
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