Each year, around one-third of the global food supply is wasted due to confusing labeling, spoilage and expired product. To put it in perspective, that is almost 1.3 billion tons of food worldwide. Despite upward trends in sustainability practices over the last decade, food waste remains a major problem for countries at all levels of economic development.
To bring awareness to food waste trends and encourage consumers and companies to practice sustainability, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have designated April as “Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month.” Though a U.S.-established holiday, these federal agencies are encouraging public, private, and nonprofit sector partners worldwide to collaborate on ways to create positive change and help meet the shared objective of reducing food loss and waste by 50% by 2030.
One way to achieve this goal
s is by promoting the value of food ingredients that help prevent spoilage and increase shelf-life. Let’s take a look at five types of food ingredients and how their usage can help support a more sustainable food supply worldwide.
“No added preservatives” has become a common phrase used to position foods in a positive light. However, many preservatives do not deserve the bad reputation they have been given. In fact, preservatives are critical in preventing spoilage and delaying the growth of bacteria in foods. Types of preservatives include salt, sugar, vinegar, phosphates, and nisin. Without preservatives, we would not have access to kitchen staples like peanut butter, sliced fruits, cheese, baked goods, jellies and more.
Antioxidants are another type of food ingredient that can prevent food waste. By slowing down the lipid oxidation process, antioxidants help prolong the shelf-life of foods and improve flavor. Ingredients like citric acid, lecithin
, and phosphoric acid are some of the more common antioxidants that are added to everyday products like soft drinks, teas, juices, canned foods, cottage cheese, and cereal bars.
A food stabilizer is an ingredient used to help maintain the physical and chemical characteristics of a food product. To support quality and longevity throughout a product’s shelf life, food manufacturers utilize stabilizers to help prevent foods from losing their original structure. Common stabilizers include ingredients like guar gum, xanthan gum, carob bean gum and pectin.
Preventing food waste does not just apply to enhancing the shelf-life of the end product. Many added ingredients can help preserve the integrity of foods throughout the manufacturing process. Firming agents, for example, help strengthen the structure of certain foods and can prevent them from breaking down during production. Firming agents like sodium citrate and cellulose gum are commonly used in ice creams, pickles, relishes
, and baked goods to enhance thickness and increase overall freshness.
Like firming agents, emulsifiers can help enhance the texture and stability of foods. Emulsifiers form or maintain an emulsion in a food product, which prevent fat separation and can help reduce food waste. Foods like coffee creamers and cakes contain monoglycerides and diglycerides of fatty acids which contribute to a more economical production process and, overall, more consistent food quality.
These are just a few of the many ingredients and additives that help maintain food freshness and quality and can help achieve food waste reduction goals. Learn more about how food ingredients contribute to a more sustainable food supply or discover more information about the different types of food ingredients by browsing our website.