What are the common food additive codes and why are they useful?

A description and listing of recognized food additives and why they're important for individuals with food allergies.


What are the common food additive codes and why are they useful?


Food additive's purpose is to either preserve or improve the food; or both. Most processed foods contain some form of additives, indeed some are added because manufacturers are required to do so by law.

Without them, most of the processed foods we buy would be far less palatable, attractive to the eye or would have a very short shelf life. They also help in maintaining the foods nutritional value.

Not all additives are artificial, as most people tend to think. A lot of them are derived from natural sources such as anthocyanin from grapes; a natural food color, which also illustrates that everything; artificial or natural has a chemical name.

Just as some people are allergic to certain foods, some people can also react to additives, some people in a very quick and violent way.

More and more, countries are demanding that manufacturers display what additives are put into the foods they produce. So for the most part a quick look at the products labeling will let you know. However as these additives are now commonly identified purely by a code number, you may be none the wiser for looking. This is not a way of deceiving the public, but an internationally accepted practice and system for informing them. Imagine if you bought a tinned product originating from say Germany, if the ingredients were written in German you would never know. But with the additives listed by a code number, anyone in any country simply has to refer to a code sheet chart. This also helps save any confusion if it is known by more than one name. Any additive with an E proceeding the number merely means the foods labeling is directed for the European Community Market. As you can see, this can be a very important and potentially life saving tool for those with food allergies.

Food additives are grouped together by class names that describe their function on the food:

  • Acidity regulators adjust the acid levels
  • Anti caking agents make the product more free flowing, the most common being in the production of salt
  • Antioxidants prevents any foods with fats or oils from turning rancid
  • Emulsifiers allow the easier mixing of oils and water
  • Enzymes help break down milk into curds and whey
  • Flavor enhancers helps bring out the natural flavor in the food; the most known is monosodium glutamate
  • Modified starch is a type of thickening agent
  • Stabilisers helps stop foods from separating

Food additives are grouped together by class names that describe their function on the food:

100 Turmeric (curcumin) 142 Green S
101 Riboflavin (vitamin b) 143 Fast green FCF
102 Tartrazin 150 Caramel
110 Sunset yellow FCF 151 Brilliant black PN
120 Cochineal 155 Brown HT
122 Carmousine 160a Beta-carotene
123 Amaranth 160b Annatto (bixin, norbixin)
124 Ponceau 4R 160c Capsanthin, ,paprika oleoresins
127 Erythrosine 160e Beta-apo-8-carotenal
129 Allura red AC 160f Ethyl or methyl ester
132 Inigotine 161 Xanthophyllis
133 Brilliant blue FCF 161g Canthaxanthin
140 Chlorophylls 162 Beet red (betanin)
141 Copper chlorophylls, 163 Anthocyanins (grape skin extract)
Chlorophyll copper complex 171 Titanium dioxide
chlorophyllin copper comlex, 172 Iron oxides and hydroxides
sodium and pottasium salts 173 Aluminium
chlorophyllins 174 Silver
175 Gold
Modified Starches
1400 Dextrins, roasted starch : white and yellow 1414 Acetylated distarch phosphate
1401 Acid-treated starch 1420 Starch acetate esterified with acetic anhydride
1402 Alkaline treated starch 1421 Starch acetate esterified with vinyl acetate
1403 Bleached starch 1422 Acetylated distarch adipate
1404 Oxidised starch 1423 Acetylated distarch glycerol
1405 Starches, enzyne treated 1440 Hydroxypropyl starch
1410 Monostarch phosphate 1442 Hydroxypropyl distarch phosphate
1411 Distarch glycerol 1443 Hydroxypropyl distarch glycerol
1412 Distarch phosphate esterified with sodium trimetasphosphate Esterified with phospherous-oxychloride 1450 Starch sodium octenyl succinate
1413 Phosphated distarch phosphate
Preservatives and Antioxidents
200 Sorbic acid 300 Ascorbic acid
201 Sodium sorbate 301 Sodium ascorbate
202 Potassium sorbate 302 Calcium ascorbate
203 Calcium sorbate 303 Potassium ascorbate
210 Benzoic acid 304 Ascorbyl palmitate Ascorbyl stearate
211 Sodium benzoate 306 Mixed tocopherols concentrate
220 Sulphur dioxide 307 Alpha-tocopherol, synthetic
221 Sodium sulphite 308 Gamma tocopherol, synthetic
222 Sodium hydrogen sulphite 309 Delta-tocopherol, syntheytic
223 Sodium metabisulphite 310 Proply gallate
224 Potassium metabisulphite 311 Octyl gallate
225 Potassium sulphite 312 Dodecyl gallate
226 Calcium sulphite 315 Isoascorbic acid
227 Calcium hydrogen solhpite 316 Sodium Isoascorbic
228 Potassium bisulphite 317 Potassium Isoascorbic
234 Nisin 318 Calcium Isoascorbic
280 Propionic acid 319 Tertiary butylhydroquinine
281 Sodium propionate 320 Butylated hydroxyanisole
282 Calcium propionate 321 Butylated hydroxytoluene
283 Potassium propionate
181 Tannins 570 Fatty acids
249 Potassium nitrate 900 Dimethylpolysiloxane
250 Sodium nitrate 901 Bees wax, white and yellow
251 Sodium nitrate 903 Carnauba wax
252 Potassium nitrate 904 Shellac, bleached
421 Mannitol 905 Mineral hydrocarbons
422 Glycerol 967 Xylitol
508 Potassium chloride 1100 Amylase
509 Calcium chloride 1101 Proteases (protease, papain, bromelain, ficin)
510 Ammonium chloride 1103 Invertase
511 Magnesium chloride 1104 Lipase
551 Silicon dioxide 1200 Polydextrose
552 Calcium silicate 1201 Polyvinylpyrrolidone
553 Talc 1202 Polyvinylpolypyrrolicone
554 Sodium alumino silicate 1518 Triacetin
558 Bentonite 1520 Propylene glycol
559 Kaolin
Acidity regulators, emulsifiers, thickeners and stabilisers
170 Calcium carbonate & bicarbonate 380 Tri-ammonium citrate
260 Acetic acid 381 Ferric ammonium citrate
261 Potassium acetates 384 Isopropyl citrate mixture
262 Sodium acetates (sodium acetate, sodium diacetate 385 Calcium disodium EDTA
263 Calcium acetate 400 Algenic acid
270 Lactic acid 401 Sodium alginate
296 Malic acid 402 Potassium alginate
297 Fumaric acid 403 Ammonium alginate
322 Lecithins 404 Calcium alginate
325 Sodium lactate 405 Propylene glycol alginate
406 Agar
326 Potassium lactate 407 Carrageenan, furcelleran
327 Calcium lactate 410 Carob bean gum or locust bean gum
330 Citric acid 412 Guar gum
331 Sodium citrates 413 Tragacanth
332 Potassium citrates 414 Gum arabic
333 Calcium citrates 415 Xanthan gum
334 Tartaric acid 416 Karaya gum
335 Sodium tartrates 420 Sorbitol
336 Potassium tartrates: potassium (hydogen) tartrates, 432 Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monolaurate (polysorbate 20)
337 Sodium potassium tartrate 433 Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan mono-oleate (polysorbate 80)
338 Orthophoshoric acid, phosphoric acid 434 Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monopalmite (polysorbate 40)
339 Sodium phosphate (mono, di and tri basic) 435 Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monostearate (polysorbate 60)
340 Potassium phosphate(mono, di and tri basic) 436 Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan tristearate (polysorbate 65)
341 Calcium phosphate (mono, di and tri basic) 440 Pectins
353 Metatartaric acid 444 Surcrose acetate isobutyrate
355 Adipic acid 445 Glycerol ester of wood rosin
363 Succinic acid 450 potassium pyrophosphate, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium pyrophosphate
365 Sodium fumarates 451 potassium tripolyphosphate, sodium tripolyphosphate
367 Calcium fumarates 452 sodium polyphosphates, glassy
375 Nicotinic acid 460 cellulose, microcrystalline and powder
461 Methylcellulose 493 Sorbitan monolaurate
463 Hydroxypropyl cellulose 494 Sorbitan mono-oleate
464 Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose 495 Sorbitan monopalmitate
465 Methyl ethyl cellulose 500 Sodium carbonate and bicarbonate
466 Sodium carboxymethylcellulose 501 Potassium carbonate and bicarbonate
470 Salts of fatty acids (with base Al, Ca, Na, Mg, k and NH4, including Mg stearate) 503 Ammonium carbonate and bicarbonate
471 Mono and di-glycerides of fatty acids 504 Magnesium carbonate and bicarbonate
472 a Acetylated mono and Di-glycerides 507 Hydrochloric acid
472 b Lactic acid esters of mono and diglycerides 512 Stannous chloride
472 c Citric acid esters of mono and diglycerides 514 Sodium sulphates
472 d Tartaric acid esters of mono and diglycerides 515 Potassium sulphates
472 e Diacetyltartaric acid esters of mono and diglycerides 516 Calcium sulphate
475 Polyglycerol acid esters of fatty acids 519 Cupric sulphate
476 Polyglycerol polyricinoleate 524 Sodium hydroxide
477 Propylene glycol mono esters and diesters 525 Potassium hydroxide
478 Lactylated fatty acid esters of glycerol and propane-1, 2-diol 526 Calcium hydroxide
480 Dioctyl sodium sulphosuccinate (DSS) 535 Sodium ferrocyanide
481 Sodium stearoyl latylate 536 Potassium ferrocyanide
482 Calcium stearoyl latylate 539 Sodium thiosulphate
485 Sodium stearoyl fumarate 541 Sodium aluminium phosphate
486 Calcium stearoyl fumarate 575 Glucono delta-lactone
491 Sorbitan monostearate 578 Calcium gluconate
492 Sorbitan tristearate 579 Ferrous gluconate
Flavor Enhancers
620 Glutamic acid 633 Calcium 5' -inosinate
621 Mono sodium glutamaye 634 Calcium 5' -ribonucleotides
622 Mono potassium glutamate 635 Disodium 5' -ribonucleotides
623 Calcium glutamate 636 Maltol
626 Guanylic acid 637 Ethyl maltol
627 Disodium 5' -guanylate 640 Glycine
629 Calcium 5' -guanylate 641 L-leucine
631 Disodium inosinate
Flour treatment agents
920 L-cysteine and its hydrochlorides 926 Chlorine dioxide
924 Potassium bromate 927 Azodicarbonamide
925 Chlorine 928 Benzoyl peroxide
290 Carbon dioxide 943 Butane
941 Nitrogen 944 Propane
942 Nitrous oxide
Artificial sweeteners
950 Acesulphame K 954 Saccharin and its sodium, calcium and ammonium compounds
951 Aspartame 957 Thaumatin
952 Calcium cyclamte and sodium cyclamate

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