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Food jargons

April 8, 2008

Have you ever wonder what on earth does some of the food labels meant? Here are some that I would like to share with:

Fat free – Product has less than 1/2 gram of fat per serving.
Low-saturated fat – Product has 1 gram of saturated fat or less per serving.
Low fat – Product has 3 grams of fat or less per serving.
Reduced fat – Product has at least 25 percent less fat than the regular version. If the regular food is high in fat – such as premium ice cream – then the reduced-fat type may still be high in fat.
Light in fat – Product has 50 percent less fat than the regular version. As in reduced-fat foods, the healthfulness of the “light” product depends on the total fat content; but the light version is a better choice (as long as you don’t eat more than twice as much).

Food additives are substances that become part of a food product when added (intentionally or unintentionally) during the processing or production of that food. In Brunei, additives list (among others) is required by law to be included in a food label.

Food additives serve five main functions:

To maintain product consistency – Substances called emulsifiers provide a consistent texture and prevent products from separating. Stabilizers and thickeners provide an even texture. Anti-caking agents allow substances to flow freely;

To improve or preserve the nutrient value – Many foods and drinks are fortified and enriched to improve the nutritional status;

To maintain the wholesomeness of foods – Contamination from bacteria can allow food borne illnesses to occur. Preservatives reduce the spoilage that air, fungi, bacteria, or yeast can cause. Certain preservatives help preserve the flavor in baked goods by preventing the fats and oils from going bad. They also keep fresh fruits from turning brown when exposed to the air.

To control the acidity and alkalinity and provide leavening – Specific additives help change the acid-base balance of foods to obtain a desired taste, color, or flavor. Leavening agents that release acids when they are heated react with baking soda to help biscuits, cakes, and other baked goods rise.

To provide color and enhance flavor – Certain colors improve the appearance of foods. There are many spices and natural and synthetic flavors that bring out the best in the flavor of food.

Intentional or direct food additives are added to foods to produce a desired effect, such as to maintain freshness, improve nutritional quality, assist in processing or preparing food, or make a food more appealing.

Unintentional or indirect food additives are substances that are found in food during the production or the processing of a particular item. These are present in minimal quantities in the final product.

Source: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.

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