Our bodies depend on the food we eat to function normally. But how many of us know what we are eating? We might think, for example, that a packet of vegetable soup only contains dried vegetables. However, this is not the case. It also contains additives.

These are put  into food for a number of reasons, and are grouped according to what they do. There are four main groups: preservatives, which prevent the growth of micro-organisms which would spoil the taste or make the food dangerous to eat; anti-oxidants, which stop the food from becoming  spoiled as a result of contact with air; stabilisers and emulsifiers, both of which make sure that the ingredients mix and do not separate out again; and colouring agents which colour the food in order to make it look more attractive.

A typical packet or tin of vegetable soup will contain additives from  all these groups. And it’s not just packaged convenience foods that contain additives. Cheese, carbonated or fizzy drinks, margarine, biscuits, jam, tinned fish also contain them. In fact, any factory-made food does so. In several countries, the use of food additives is controlled by  government regulations.

The UK list of permitted additives is based on a list produced by the European Community (EC). Additives on the EC list are generally assumed to be safe to use. However, some people have expressed doubts about the safety of some of them, and some are not allowed in the United States. This is sufficient cause for concern,  particularly when we consider that small amounts of additives soon add up. (It is estimated that each member of the British population eats between three and seven kilograms of additives per year.)

Is it right that potentially harmful substances are put into our food without our knowledge?

From the point of view of the health of the consumer, the answer appears obvious, but ending the use of additives would have far-reaching effects. It would mean only eating fresh, locally produced food. People would have to spend much more *ime in the kitchen as there would no longer be such a thing as supermarket convenience  food.

This would not be acceptable to many consumers iuid certainly not to the convenience food manufacturers. So it seems that additives are here to stay.


A. What do the following refer to?
1. ‘if (line 12): \
2. ‘all these groups’ (line 15):
3. ‘does so’ (line 18):
B. Mark the best choice.

1. A packet of vegetable soup .

a) only contains additives b) contains both dried vegetables and additives

c) only contains dried vegetables d) contains only the things that our body needs
2. Convenience foods are .

a) fresh and locally produced foods b) packets or tins of vegetable soup

c) foods that dont have additives in them d) factory-made foods that are quick to prepare in the kitchen


C. Is the statement True (T) or False (F)?

When small amounts of additives add up, they may be dangerous for the human body.


1. Why is it necessary to prevent the growth of micro-organisms in our food? (Give 2 reasons.)

2.Why are stabilisers and emulsifiers put into food? (Give 2 reasons.)

3. What sort of food doesn’t contain additives?

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