The history of human food culture is the history of food preservation. Since our earliest days, we’ve been seeking ways to extend the viable life of the foods we eat and maintain their nutrition value for as long as possible. Some of these are entirely natural, others involve adding preservatives, such as the use of phosphates or sodium benzoate in food.
These are just a few of the most common ways people preserve their foods, along with their benefits and drawbacks.
Five Common Ways of Preserving Food
Nearly all types of microbial life that can spoil food require water to survive and grow. Therefore, removing water from food, such as by drying or smoking, will greatly extend its lifespan. However, not all foods can survive dehydration and still remain edible, and both the taste and texture are will be significantly altered.
Another common approach is to package foods in such a way that all air has been removed from the package. Without any oxygen as a catalyst, decay can be significantly delayed. However, this effect doesn’t last forever and will be immediately undone the moment any air enters the package, no matter how little.
The ability of high heat to sterilize foods has been known for centuries and was codified by Louis Pasteur. This is frequently seen in canning, as foods that are canned then boiled can last for months, or even years. However, it can significantly disrupt the flavor of foods such as dairy products that rely on active cultures living in the food.
Salt is the most common preservative additive in the world and can act as both a desiccant, as well as an active antibacterial agent. However, of course, salt can significantly alter the flavor of a food and can be harmful in large quantities.
- Chemical additives and preservatives
The use of chemicals such as lactates, citrates, or sodium benzoate in food has grown throughout the 20th Century and is now one of the best ways to preserve food. The wide variety of chemical preservatives means there’s a preservative out there for every need, which can limit the number of changes made to the product’s taste and texture. For many foods, chemical additives are the best way to keep them safe.
Our FBC Industries Team Can Help
To learn more about the use of additives in foods, please contact FBC Industries!