Lately, public attention has been drawn to news reports about some food establishments in Mainland China putting food additives like “One Drop of Incense” and “Hotpot Flavoring Agent” into the food they served. So, what exactly are these food additives?
What is “salty food flavoring agent”?
“One Drop of Incense” and “Hotpot Flavoring Agent” are flavoring agents mainly used for enhancing the taste and aroma of salty foods. These agents come in many different flavors to give food the taste and smell of meat (beef, pork, and chicken), of seafood (fish, shrimp, crab, shellfish) and a variety of seasoning flavors to different kind of dishes.
How are “salty food flavoring agents” being used?
In the case of salty foods, their texture usually changes after cooking. In order to satisfy customers’ taste buds, some food establishments will add “salty food flavoring agents” to salty foods to enhance or better their taste and smell. These agents merely replenish and enhance the taste and smell of food rather than enriching it with nutrients.
Are “salty food flavoring agents” a kind of seasoning?
“Salty food flavoring agents” can only be used during food processing and are not suitable for direct consumption. They cannot be used directly during cooking as ingredients or as flavoring for meals. These agents are one of the many kinds of ingredients of some seasonings to give taste and smell to food. They are not the equivalent of seasoning.
Are “salty food flavoring agents” made from industrial chemicals?
No, they are mainly composed of amino acids, reducing sugar and other elements while the important sources of amino acids are hydrolyzed vegetable protein, hydrolyzed animal protein and yeasts.
Is it safe to use “salty food flavoring agents”?
In accordance with China’s national standards for the use of “Salty Food Flavoring Agents”, appropriate use of such agents during food processing is allowed. The appropriate use of “salty food flavoring agents” under required conditions will not endanger human health. In fact, such agents have the ability to self-regulate the quantity used. In other words, when the quantity of any of such agents in use exceeds a certain amount, the flavor it generates becomes unpleasant. Due to this special property of “salty food flavoring agents”, users have no choice but to keep the quantity under a certain level. Yet, consumers have to be cautious in their choice of products.
To keep healthy, the public should maintain a balanced diet and avoid eating foods which are excessively salty or sweetened.