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Consumer's Dictionary of Food

Consumer's Dictionary of Food

5.0 1
by Ruth Winter

An essential book for anyone who wants to make informed, healthier choices at the store or at the table. This valuable listing of more than 8,000 food additives includes those that indirectly end up in your food as a result of processing and procuring techniques, and explains the new food labels that are required on products.


An essential book for anyone who wants to make informed, healthier choices at the store or at the table. This valuable listing of more than 8,000 food additives includes those that indirectly end up in your food as a result of processing and procuring techniques, and explains the new food labels that are required on products.

Editorial Reviews

A guide for consumers who read labels and want to know what's in their food as well as the meaning of such terms as fat-free and all- natural. Definitions include what the additive does, in what products it is generally used, and what is known about possible effects on health. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

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Crown Publishing Group
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5.39(w) x 7.95(h) x 1.14(d)

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Chapter 1


ABEYANCE * The term used by the FDA that includes petitions that were filed and were found after detailed review by the Office of Food Additives (OFAS) to be deficient. The OFAS does not actively work on petitions in abeyance. When all the information required to address the deficiency or deficiencies is provided, a petition can be refiled with the FDA and assigned a new filing date.

ABIES ALBA MILL * See Pine Needle Oil.

ABIETIC ACID * Sylvic Acid. Chiefly a texturizer in the making of soaps. A widely available natural acid, water insoluble, prepared from pine rosin, usually yellow and composed of either glassy or crystalline particles. Employed to carry nutrients that are added to enriched rice in amounts up to .0026 percent of the weight of the nutrient mixture. Used also in the manufacture of vinyls, lacquers, and plastics. Little is known about abietic acid toxicity; it is harmless when injected into mice but causes paralysis in frogs and is slightly irritating to human skin and mucous membranes. May cause allergic reactions.

ABSINTHIUM * Extract or Oil. See Wormwood.

ABSOLUTE * The term refers to a plant-extracted material that has been concentrated but that remains essentially unchanged in its original taste and odor. Often called "natural perfume materials" because they are not subjected to heat and water as are distilled products. See Distilled.

AC * Abbreviation for Anticaking Agent.

ACACIA * Acacia vera. Acacia senegal. Gum Arabic. Egyptian Thorn. Catechu (from the Latin Acacia catechu, which is interchangeable with acacia). Acacia is the odorless, colorless, tasteless dried exudate from thetrunk of the acacia tree grown in Africa, the Near East, India, and the southern United States. Its most distinguishing quality among the natural gums is its ability to dissolve rapidly in water. The use of acacia dates back four thousand years to when the Egyptians employed it in paints. Its principal use in the confectionery industry is to retard sugar crystallization and as a thickener for candies, jellies, glazes, and chewing gum. As a stabilizer, it prevents chemical breakdown in food mixtures. Gum acacia is a foam stabilizer in the soft drink and brewing industries. Other uses are for mucilage, and the gum gives form and shape to tablets. In 1976, the FDA placed acacia in the GRAS category as an emulsifier, flavoring additive, processing aid, and stabilizer in beverages at 2.0 percent, chewing gum at 5.6 percent; as a formulation aid, stabilizer, and humectant in confections and frostings at 12.4 percent; as a humectant stabilizer and formulation aid in hard candy at 46.5 percent; in soft candy at 85 percent; in nut formulations at 1.0 percent; and in all other food categories at 8.3 percent of the product. Medically, it is used as a demulcent to soothe irritations, particularly of the mucous membranes. It slightly reduces cholesterol in the blood. It can cause allergic reactions such as skin rash and asthmatic attacks. Oral toxicity is low. See also Vegetable Gums and Catechu Extract. GRAS. ASP. E

ACCEPTABLE DAILY INTAKE (ADI) * An estimate of the amount of a food additive, expressed on a body-weight basis, that can be ingested daily over a lifetime without appreciable health risk, according to the World Health Organization (1987).

ACE K * See Acesulfame Potassium.

ACENAPHTHENE * 1,2-Dihydroacenaphthylene. 1,8-Ethylenenaphthalene. Derived from coal tar, it is used as a dye intermediate in pharmaceuticals, insecticides, fungicides, and plastics. No absorption data are available for acenaphthene; however, by analogy to structurally related polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), it would be expected to be absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and lungs. The anhydride of naphthalic acid was identified as a urinary metabolite in rats treated orally with acenaphthene. Although a large body of literature exists on the toxicity and carcinogenicity of (PAHs), primarily benzo[a]pyrene, toxicity data for acenaphthene are very limited. See coal tar.

ACEPHATE (0-S-DIMETHYL ACETYLPHOSPHERAMIDOTHIOATE and 0-S-DIMETHYL PHOSPHORAMIDO THIOATE) * A contact and systemic pesticide used on cottonseed meal resulting from application to growing crops. The FDA permits a tolerance of 8 ppm in cottonseed and

4 ppm in soybean meal resulting from application to growing crops.

ACER SPICATUM LAM * See Mountain Maple Extract.

ACEROLA * Used as an antioxidant. Derived from the ripe fruit of the West Indian or Barbados cherry grown in Central America and the West Indies. A rich source of ascorbic acid. Used in vitamin C.

ACESULFAME POTASSIUM * Acesulfame K. Sunette. Ace K. In a petition filed in September 1982, the American Hoechst Corporation asked for approval to make this nonnutritive sweetener two hundred times sweeter than table sugar for use in chewing gum, dry beverage mixes, confections, canned fruit, gelatins, puddings, custards, and as a tabletop sweetener. The petition, including fifteen volumes of research studies, said the sweetener is not metabolized and would not add calories to the diet. The FDA approved acesulfame K on July 27, 1988, for use in dry food products and for sale in powder form or tablets that can be applied directly by the consumer. It has about the same sweetening power as aspartame (see), but unlike aspartame, has no calories. Hoechst obtained approval to use acesulfame K as an ingredient in liquids and baked goods and candies. The sweetener had previously been approved for use in twenty countries including France and Britain. Pepsi and Coca-Cola use it in Europe and Canada in their diet drinks. The Food and Drug Administration said that four long-term animal studies in dogs, mice, and rats had not shown any toxic effects that could be pinned on the sweetener. However, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C.-based consumer group, sent a warning to the FDA more than six months before the sweetener's approval saying that animals fed acesulfame K in two different studies suffered more tumors than others that did not receive the compound. In another study cited by CSPI, diabetic rats had a higher blood level of cholesterol when fed the sweetener. The FDA said in a press release that it had considered the Center's concerns and concluded that "any tumors found were typical of what could routinely be expected and were not due to feeding with acesulfame K." Hoechst said that acesulfame is not metabolized by the body and is excreted unchanged by humans and animals. When heated to decomposition emits toxic fumes. ASP. E

ACETAL * A volatile liquid derived from acetaldehyde (see) and alcohol. Used in fruit flavorings (it has a nutlike aftertaste) and as a hypnotic in medicine. It is a central nervous system depressant, similar in action to paraldehyde but more toxic. Paraldehyde is a hypnotic and sedative whose side effects are respiratory depression, cardiovascular collapse, and possible high blood pressure reactions. No known skin toxicity. ASP

ACETALDEHYDE * Ethanal. Occurs naturally in apples, broccoli, cheese, coffee, grapefruit, and other vegetables and fruit. Used as a solvent. It is irritating to the mucous membranes. Its ability to depress the central nervous system is greater than that of formaldehyde (see), and ingestion produces symptoms of "drunkenness." Acetaldehyde is thought to be a factor in the toxic effect caused by drinking alcohol after taking the antialcohol drug Antabuse. Inhalation usually limited by intense irritation of lungs. Ingestion of large doses may cause death by respiratory paralysis. Skin toxicity not identified. GRAS. ASP

ACETALDEHYDE DIISOAMYL ACETYAL * Flavoring. Labeled GRAS by the Expert Panel of the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association in 2003.

ACETALDEHYDE ETHYL CIS-3-HEXENYL ACETAL * A synthetic flavoring. The FDA has as of this writing not yet done a thorough toxicology search. See Acetaldehyde.

ACETALDEHYDE PHENETHYL PROPYL ACETAL * Petital. A synthetic fruit flavoring additive for beverages, ice cream, ices, candy, and baked goods. See Acetaldehyde for toxicity. ASP


ACETANISOLE * A synthetic flavoring additive, colorless to pale yellow solid, with an odor of hawthorn or hay, moderately soluble in alcohol and most fixed oils. Acetanisole is used in butter, caramel, chocolate, fruit, nut, and vanilla flavorings, which go into beverages, ice cream, ices, candy, baked goods, and chewing gum.

ACETATE * Salt of acetic acid (see) used in liquor, nut, coffee, vanilla, honey, pineapple, and cheese flavorings for beverages, ice cream, sherbets, cakes, cookies, pastries, and candy. May be irritating to the stomach if consumed in large quantities.

ACETIC ACID * Occurs naturally in apples, cheese, cocoa, coffee, grapes, skimmed milk, oranges, peaches, pineapples, strawberries, and a variety of other fruits and plants. Vinegar is about 4 to 6 percent acetic acid and essence of vinegar is about 14 percent. It is used in cheese, baked goods, and animal feeds. Solvent for gums, resins, and volatile oils. Styptic, it stops bleeding when applied to a cut on the skin. Potential adverse skin reactions include irritation or itching, hives, and overgrowth of organisms that do not respond to germ-killers. In its glacial form (without much water) it is highly corrosive and its vapors are capable of producing lung obstruction. Less than 5 percent acetic acid in solution is mildly irritating to the skin. It caused cancer in rats and mice when given orally or by injection. GRAS. ASP. E

ACETIC ACID, CITRONELLYL ESTER * A flavoring additive found in oils of citronella geranium, and about twenty other oils. Colorless liquid; fruity odor. Used as a flavoring additive in mayonnaise, salad dressings, and sauces. Mildly toxic by ingestion. A human skin irritant.

ACETIC ANHYDRIDE * Acetyl Oxide. Acetic Oxide. Colorless liquid with a strong odor, it is derived from oxidation of acetaldehyde (see). It is used as a dehydrating and acetylating additive (see Dehydrated and Acetylated) and in the production of dyes, perfumes, plastics, food starch, and aspirin. It is a strong irritant and may cause burns and eye damage. The FDA says there is no reported use of the chemical and no toxicology information is available. NUL

ACETIC ETHER * A synthetic additive, transparent, colorless liquid with a fragrant, refreshing odor, used in butter, butterscotch, fruit, nut, and spice flavorings for beverages, ice cream, ices, candy, baked goods (1,000 ppm), and chewing gum (4,000 ppm). Also used to coat vegetables.

ACETISOEUGENOL * White crystals with a clove odor, used as a flavoring additive. It is moderately toxic by ingestion. When heated to decomposition, it emits acrid smoke and irritating fumes. The FDA permits its use at a level not to exceed an amount reasonably required to accomplish the intended effect.

ACETOACETIC ESTER * See Ethyl Acetoacetate.

ACETOIN * Acetyl Methyl Carbinol. A flavoring additive and aroma carrier used in perfumery, it occurs naturally in broccoli, grapes, pears, cultured dairy products, cooked beef, and cooked chicken. As a product of fermentation and of cream ripened for churning, it is a colorless or pale yellow liquid or a white powder, has a buttery odor, and must be stored in a light-resistant container. It is used in raspberry, strawberry, butter, butterscotch, caramel, coconut, coffee, fruit, liquor, rum, nut, walnut, vanilla, cream soda, and cheese flavorings for beverages, ice cream, ices, candy, baked goods, margarine, gelatin desserts, cottage cheese, and shortenings. Mildly toxic by injection under the skin. A moderate skin irritant. When heated to decomposition it emits acrid smoke and fumes. GRAS. ASP

2-ACETONAPHTHONE * Orange Crystals. 2-Naphthyl Ketone. White crystalline solid with an orange blossom odor. Used as a flavoring additive. Moderately toxic by ingestion. A human skin irritant. When heated to decomposition it emits acrid smoke and fumes.

ACETONE * A colorless ethereal liquid derived by oxidation or fermentation and used as a solvent for spices. Not more than 30 ppm may be a residual in the product. It is also frequently used in nail polish removers and nail finishes and as a solvent for airplane dope, fats, oils, and waxes. Inhalation may irritate the lungs, and in large amounts it is narcotic, causing symptoms of drunkenness similar to ethanol (see). In 1992, the FDA proposed a ban on acetone in astringent (see) products because it had not been shown to be safe and effective as claimed.

ACETONE PEROXIDE * Acetone (see) to which an oxygen-containing compound has been added. A maturing additive for bleaching flour and dough, it has a sharp, acrid odor similar to hydrogen peroxide. The food additive acetone peroxide may be safely used in flour, and in bread and rolls where standards of identity do not preclude its use. A strong oxidizing additive, it can be damaging to the skin and eyes. The Internet is full of instructions on how to make a bomb out of this additive. NIL

ACETOPHENONE * Acetyl Benzene. Benzoyl Methide. A synthetic additive derived from coal tar, with an odor of bitter almonds, used in strawberry, floral, fruit, cherry, almond, walnut, tobacco, vanilla, and tonka bean flavorings for beverages, ice cream, ices, candy, baked goods, gelatin desserts, and chewing gum. It occurs naturally in strawberries and tea and may cause allergic reactions. Poisonous by injection. Moderately toxic by ingestion. A skin and severe eye irritant. Narcotic in high concentrations. When heated to decomposition it emits acrid smoke and fumes. ASP

ACETOSTEARIN * Obtained from fats and oils, it is a glyceride (see) that the Select Committee on GRAS Substances stated in 1980 should be GRAS with no limitations. It is used as a protective coating for food and as a plasticizer. NUL See also Stearic Acid.

ACETOXYDIHYDROTHEASPIRANE * Flavoring from tobacco used in baked goods, instant coffee/tea, snacks, soups, seasonings, meat products, and tobacco. FEMA GRAS; used in cigarettes. EAF

4-ACETYOXY-2,5-DIMETHYL-3(2H)FURANONE * Synthetic balsamlike flavor. EAF

4(p-ACETOXYPHENYL)-2-BUTANONE * Synthetic flavoring. NIL

ACETYL ACETONE * Acetoacetone. Diacetyl Methane. Colorless to slightly yellow liquid with a pleasant odor. Used as a flavoring additive in food. The FDA requires it not be used in excess of the amount reasonably required to accomplish the intended effect. Moderately toxic if ingested, injected, or inhaled.

ACETYL BENZENE * See Acetophenone.

ACETYLAMINO-5-NITROTHIAZOLE * Acinitrazole. Trichloral. Tritheom. An animal drug used in turkeys and limited to 0.1 ppm in the bird's flesh by the FDA. When heated to decomposition emits toxic fumes.

ACETYL BENZOYL PEROXIDE * White crystals decomposed by water and organic matter. Used in medicine as a germicide and disinfectant. It is used to bleach flour. Toxic when ingested.

ACETYL BUTYRYL * See 2,3-Hexandione.

ACETYL-o-CREOSOL * See o-Tolyl Acetate.

3-ACETYL-2,5-DIMETHYL FURAN * Yellow liquid with a strong roasted-nut odor, it is used as a flavoring additive. When heated to decomposition it emits acrid smoke and irritating fumes. The FDA has toxicology information on this food additive. GRAS. ASP

2-ACETYL;-3,(5 or 6)-DIMETHYLPYRAZINE, MIXTURE OF ISOMERS * Flavoring additive used in baked goods, beverages, breakfast cereal, chewing gum, confectionery frostings, egg products, fats, fish products, frozen dairy, fruit ices, gelatins, gravies, hard candies, instant coffee and tea, jams, meat products, milk products, seasonings, snack foods, soft candy, and soups. ASP

3-ACETYL-2,5-DIMETHYLTHIOPHENE * A flavoring additive. ASP

2-ACETYL-3-ETHYLPYRAZINE * A flavoring additive. ASP

ACETYL EUGENOL * See Eugenyl Acetate.

ACETYL FORMALDEHYDE * See Pyruvaldehyde.

ACETYL FORMIC ACID * See Pyruvaldehyde.

ACETYL HEXAMETHYL TETRALIN * Synthetic musk used mostly in cosmetics but in some food additives. It is closely related to acetyl ethyl tetramethyl tetralin, which was voluntarily removed from perfumes when it was reported to cause nerve damage in animals. The "hexa" component was inserted to make the fragrances less volatile and less allergenic.

Meet the Author

Ruth Winter, M.S., is an award-winning science writer who is nationally known for her many books and for her magazine articles in Family Circle, Woman's Day, Omni, and Reader's Digest. She is also the author of A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients and A Consumer's Dictionary of Medicines: Prescription, Over-the-Counter, Homeopathic, and Herbal.

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