How are Chemicals Useful as Food Preservatives?

Ancient methods of food preservation

Ages-old the food was preserved by the following methods – Cooling, freezing and fermentation etc.

One of the most frequently used methods for food preservation is sun-drying. This is very helpful because if the water has evaporated and the remaining water is insufficient then micro-organisms cannot be augmented.

Secondly, cooling can also be used for food preservation as cooling can decrease the rate of chemical reaction and can also slow down the growth of microorganisms.

  • Have you ever thought why our mother adds so much oil and salt in the pickles?

Salt is one of the most useful preservatives for food and for keeping the pickles fresh because

  • It extracts excess water from the fruits.
  • Maintains the flavour of the fruit.
  • Maintains the texture of the fruit.

Oil is used in pickles as it locks the air from the item that is being pickled.

  • Have you ever thought why jams/jellies last longer than cakes?

Jams/Jellies last for a longer time as compared to cakes or other sweets because Jams/Jellies contain more sugar as compared to cakes and other sweets. Through osmosis, sugar extracts the water from the fruit which helps in the preservation of food.

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Chemicals used as food preservatives

Sodium Benzoate is used as a food preservative as it has anti-fungal properties. This chemical compound enters in each cell and balances the pH of the food and effectively increases the acidity of the food and helps in preserving the food. This chemical compound is also used in the soft drinks so that the acidity is increased, strengthening the flavour of the soft drink.

A preservative, when added to food, prevents retardation and decomposition of food. Salts of sorbic acid and propanoic acid are also used as a preservative because of their anti-fungal property.

Harmful effects of food preservatives

Food preservatives are very helpful in storing food but sometimes they are not at all good in maintaining good health.

There are many health issues caused by preservatives for example nitrates and nitrites which are very helpful in the preservation of meat products but most of the studies show that it is carcinogenic and is very harmful for our health.

In a similar way, excessive use of sodium benzoate may also cause asthma and allergic issues. To learn more about this concept, register with BYJU’S now!

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