Characterization of Additives

On this page you will find detailed information about the additives that are used in the dining halls and cafeterias of the Studierendenwerk Thuringia. Apart from pre-packaged products, we process fresh foods without separately mixing in additives.

Additives – indispensible Helpers

The additives used today are chosen mainly for the following reasons:

  • in order to ensure that the foodstuffs we use stay hygienically perfect till when they are consumed, and in order to avoid food poisoning (for example: by the addition of preservatives),
  • in order to offer you a meal that fits the price
  • in order to lengthen the best-used-by date and preserve the flavour (for example: through antioxidants),
  • in order to improve nutritional value (for example: by adding minerals),
  • in order to change (firmness, spreadability etc.) or preserve the texture (for example: by adding emulsifying or gelling agents)
  • in order to offer the consumer a wider variety of calorie-reduced foodstuffs,
  • in order to secure an unchanging level of quality,
  • in order to make the maintenance of stocking supplies possible,
  • in order to offer food independent of the time of year.
Additives – safe and necessary

Safety is an important criterion. However, the fact that an additive is safe does not give free reign to its usage. Even the technological necessity has to be justified. If this is not the case, then no certification of approval is given, even when the additive is absolutely safe. A new substance will not be allowed until it is clearly proven that this additive is safe and, at the same time, necessary. Furthermore, the consumer should not be deceived by the usage of additives. An additive is absolutely not to be used in order to conceal defective processing or cover up any bad qualities of raw materials.

Allergies and Intolerances

Many additives are suspected to trigger intolerances in susceptible individuals. Most allergies are caused, however, by certain protein substances in foods – which means that they are caused rather by natural ingredients and not by additives.

There is hardly any food, to which no one has an allergic reaction.

Scientific Studies have shown that generally one person out of 10,000 has a hypersensitive reaction to additives. In other words, hypersensitive reactions caused by additives are particularly rare. They can be avoided as long as the person concerned reads the list of ingredients very carefully or informs themselves otherwise, for example by checking with the manufacturer. By using labels on the meal plans of the Studierendenwerk, we also want to give persons concerned the opportunity to inform themselves of the ingredients.

Dye Stuffs and Blackening

Dye stuffs are used in order to give food a better appearance. The coloring is not allowed to exceed the hue of the fresh food. The words “colored” or “with coloring” must be immediately seen and clearly legible on the package or on the meal plan, so that we do not deceive the consumer. 

Exception: If, for example, one puts black olives in a goat cheese salad, this must also be marked. Black olives are colored with iron-II-gluconate or with iron II-lactate in order to simulate the deep black color of a ripe olive. Here, however, the consumer must be informed with the word “blackened”. 

We differentiate natural, nature identical and artificial dyes from one another. In the mensas, various products are processed that contain carotenoids, for example. This dye is naturally present in carrots and is transformed in the body into vitamin A.  For this reason, some special natural or nature-identical dyes like carotenoids are more conducive to your health, instead of posing a threat to you.

Preservatives

These additives are used in foods in order to delay or even prevent the microbial spoilage of the food from bacteria, fungi and yeasts. Some are only used for surface preservation, such as in the case of fruits, where the pores on the skin are sealed, thereby preventing the penetration of fungi. The others are mixed in with the food to prevent food spoiling, such as mold on cut bread. Added preservatives are marked on the package or the meal plan with the label “with preservatives”. The most well known type of preservation is curing or pickling. Nitrite pickling salt is the most efficient way to prevent meat from spoiling. The botulinum toxin, which is the most powerful biological toxin of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, can not be killed by sole heating. Only the usage of nitrite can prevent it.

Antioxidants

They prevent or slow down the process of oxidation or slow down, thus preventing the food spoilage from atmospheric oxygen. They suspend, for example, the vitamin degradation of air-sensitive vitamins and rancidity of fats. The last task especially belongs to the main tasks of antioxidants and is, therefore, used in dry soups, cooking fats, etc, as well as in many fatty foods.

Flavor Enhancer

They intensify the taste of specific flavors which are lost during processing. They are especially used for products where water was withdrawn or which have been preserved by heating or freezing, for example: dry soup from packages, granulated broth, etc. You will also find flavor enhancers in ready-made meals, which are so called convenience products. The label “with flavor enhancer” is enough in order to identify its usage in meals.

Sulphur

This versatile material is used for sulphiting, which is a means of killing bacteria and mold, and is also used to clean the wine barrels or in the preservation of foodstuffs (Label: "sulphuretted").

Waxing

Coating agents protect chunky foods (eg. cheeses such as Edamer or fruits) from dehydration, aroma and quality loss, and spoilage. There are waxes and resins which are applied warm onto the surface or are applied as an emulsion by spraying or dipping the food in the substance to create a solid elastic surface film. Such products are recognized by the informatory label “waxed”. By simply washing the fruit, the layer of wax is removed and must not be marked as “waxed” thereafter.

Phosphate

Phosphates are vital parts of our body. They are involved in the structure of our DNA. As a result, practically all foods contain phosphates. You will find them mainly, however, in foods rich in protein such as milk, meat, fish and eggs. Phosphates are used as additives in the food industry in the form of polyphosphates. They are used, for example, in the softening of water, salt for cheese spread, or in the production of cooked sausages, surimi and fish fingers. The content of phosphate is even very high in cola beverages. On the meal plan, you will find such products labeled with the hint “with phosphate”.

Sweetener

Sweetener (Sweetener and sugar substitutes, with the exception of fructoses) are applied to foods where one wants to obtain a sweet taste but needs to abstain from the usage of sugar, for example in calorie-reduced foods. You can recognize such food items by the label “with sweetener”.

Phenylalanin

Phenylalanine is an important amino acid, which plays an important role in the exchange of nitrogen. When there is a sufficient amount available, phenylalanine can transform into tyrosine. The normal daily dose of an adult should amount to 14 mg/kg of their body weight. Basically, it is covered sufficiently through one’s food. Phenylalanine takes part in the composition of adrenaline, noradrenaline and other hormones. It works as a metabolism reactant for many other substances and also for important messenger substances of the brain (dopamine, serotonin, tyramine).  

When it comes to the heritable metabolic disease phenylketonuria, abbreviated to PKU, the amino acid phenylalanine cannot change in the concerned person’s body into tyrosine. The information "contains a source of Phenylalanine „ directs itself thereby to the persons concerned with PKU.

Beef and Pork, Poultry, Wild Game Meat and Fish

This information are marked in the internet through the corresponding symbols.

S    Pork Meat 
R
    Beef
V    Vegetarian Meals
V*  Vegan Meals
F     Fish
G     Poultry 
L
     Lamb
P     Salt Meat (with pickling salt) 
W
    Wild Game Meat
K     Garlic

Pork Gelatine, which is used in the production of desserts, cakes and tortes, is identified as such with the according symbol or hint. Meals including garlic are also made recognizable by a symbol or hint  "includes garlic" so that there are no unpleasant surprises.

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