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Food Additives Are as Old as History

Food additives can be a controversial topic, and some people claim to want their food “natural” or “like our ancestors ate.”  The thing is, people have been using food additives long before they could be ordered from a food additives supplier!  Fundamentally, human beings have always been looking for ways to extend the safe lifespan of their foods, and the practice of using additives as preservatives is far older than most people realize.

Food Additives Have Always Been Part of People’s Cuisine

So, when did people start using additives to preserve their food?  We don’t even know – the history of additives goes back to the beginnings of recorded history.  As far back as 3,000 BCE – the early bronze age – we know that there were trade caravans crisscrossing Asia and the Middle East, delivering spices and preservatives.

At the time, spices were one of the most common ways of preserving food.  Indian curries, for example, were developed as a method of food preservation.  While the people at that time did not know about disease, the extra-spicy sauces they developed turned out to inhibit the growth of micro-organisms.  By accident, they discovered preservatives.

Another common preservation method available – possibly the first-ever method – was smoking.  Smoked meat may be as old as fire.

Plus, of course, we can’t forget salt.  Salt was and still is the most popular food additive and preservative.  In ancient times, though, it wasn’t as common or easily obtained as it is today.  Salt could be exceedingly valuable.  In many cultures, such as Imperial Rome, salt was even used as payment!  The word “salary” actually comes in part from the Latin word “Sal,” for salt, because it was so often used in wages.

Also, the phrase “worth their salt” comes directly from this time that salt was valuable.

Over the years, different cultures continued to experiment with food preservation, and a huge variety of new methods were developed such as pickling with brine, vinegar, or alcohol.  People developed and utilized new types of food additives as fast as they could be invented!

Today, we live in a golden age of food preservation.  There are more types of safe and tasty food additives available than ever before, and millions can eat every day thanks to those additives.

FBC Industries

FBC Industries are a top food additives supplier to food businesses around the world.  Click here to request a sample of our products.


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How Food Additives and Preservatives Improve Your Products

Despite the current consumer push towards supposedly “all-natural” foods, anyone who looks into the subject knows that the modern food and beverage industry requires a wide variety of food additives and preservatives.  Often, these additives get a very bad reputation, and for little to no reason.  People think that “all-natural” foods are somehow a superior option when, most of the time, they’re objectively worse. (more…)

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Citric Acid: One of The World’s Most Popular Preservatives

It’s generally agreed that the most commonly used preservative in the world is salt and has been since ancient times.  However, just slightly behind it is citric acid – either straight or through the use of strong citric fruit like lemons and limes.  For thousands of years, citric acid has been an incredibly important part of food creation and preservation, and it continues to be so to this day. (more…)

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The Many Surprising Uses for Calcium Chloride

There are many substances that are only used in a handful of specific applications, and then there are those which are utilized in a wide variety of situations.  Calcium chloride is definitely among the latter.  A salt of calcium and chlorine is extremely hygroscopic and therefore its primary application is as a desiccant. (more…)

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Is Sodium Benzoate A Safe Food Additive?

With the current consumer drive towards healthier and “more natural” foods, it’s understandable for some companies to be concerned about putting too many artificial preservatives in their products.  However, when it comes to sodium benzoate, there is very little to fear.  This is one of the most commonly used preservatives in the world and has been repeatedly found to be of no threat to human health when used properly. (more…)

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Everything You Need to Know About Sodium Benzoate

Sodium Benzoate is among the most commonly used artificial preservatives in food and medicine today.  It is also well-studied and considered to be Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the FDA, allowing it to be used a wide variety of products.

In this article, we’ll cover what sodium benzoate is, where it comes from, its uses, and any potential health issues that might arise from overuse.

  1. The Basics of Sodium Benzoate 

Sodium benzoate is an odorless white power, created by combining benzoic acid with sodium hydroxide (lye).  Sodium benzoate is not naturally occurring and must be created in a lab, although its primary ingredient – benzoic acid – is natural.  This acid can be found in many commonplace plants, such as tomatoes, cloves, cinnamon, apples, and cranberries.  It is also produced as a byproduct of some fermenting processes, such as the creation of yogurt.

Benzoic acid is already a good preservative on its own.  The addition of sodium hydroxide makes it more readily soluble, and therefore easier to use in a wider variety of products.

  1. Uses of Sodium Benzoate 

Sodium benzoate was among the first artificial preservatives approved by the FDA and is therefore used widely throughout the food and beverage industry.  It actively inhibits the growth of molds and bacteria, allowing for significantly extended shelf lives for treated products.

Being based in an acid, the preservative does have a noticeable sharp flavor.  Therefore, it is most commonly used in products which are themselves acidic or salty, such as sodas, citric juices, pickles, salad dressing, and soy sauce.

Sodium benzoate also sees significant use in the health and beauty industries.  It is commonly used as a preservative for liquid medications, such as cough syrup, and is also utilized in a wide variety of cosmetics.

III. Potential Health Issues from Sodium Benzoate

While sodium benzoate itself is harmless, in certain circumstances it can convert into benzene, which is known to be a carcinogen.  This is most likely to happen when in the presence of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid).  However, the process is inhibited when sugars are present, so the biggest danger is from diet sodas and fruit juices.  The industry generally avoids using sodium benzoate in diet/sugar-free drinks for this reason.

Otherwise, sodium benzoate is considered entirely safe when used in proper quantities.

FBC Industries

FBC Industries wants to supply your preservatives!  We’re trusted by brands around the world – contact us for free samples.


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Calcium Chloride Improves Many Food Products

The best food additives and preservatives don’t merely extend a product’s shelf life – they actually help improve the product and bring more enjoyment to the consumer.  Calcium chloride is an excellent example of this.  Calcium chloride is a common salt, one deemed extremely safe, particularly in the concentrations commonly seen in food products.  Due to this, it’s widely used and brings benefits to many different types of products. (more…)

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