As previously mentioned, Kraft Foods has recently announced that they will be removing artificial preservatives (specifically sorbic acid) from most of their “Singles” cheese slices.

So, what will they used instead? Natamycin.

What is Natamycin?

Natamycin is sometimes called pimaricin. It’s a naturally occurring anti-fungal agent. It is widely used as a food preservative.


It is produced during fermentation by bacteria, Streptomyces natalensis. This type of bacteria is commonly found in soil.

Common Uses

Natamycin is used to prevent to fungus in foods. It is active against yeasts and molds, but not bacteria. This makes it convenient for use in foods that ripen after processing.

It has advantages over traditional chemical preservatives. It doesn’t affect flavour. It has less impact/dependence on the acidity of food.

It is commonly used in diary products like cottage cheese, sour cream, and yogurt. It is also used in packaged salad mixes.

It is sometimes applied to the surface of dried meats. This prevents mold growth on the casing. This use has not been approved in the United States.

Medical Uses

Natamycin is also used in medicine. It is used to treat and prevent fungal infections in eyes. People who wear contact lenses may suffer from these kinds of infections.

It is used in veterinary medicine. It is rubbed on the surface of infections. Ringworm infections in cattle and horses are common applications.

Health Issues / Side Effects

Natamycin does not have any toxic affects.

Some microorganisms occur naturally in our guts. Natamycin does not appear to harm these microorganisms. However, more research may be required.1

There is no evidence that resistant strains of fungus will develop because of the use of Natamycin.2

E Number

The E number of Natamycin is 235. Related additives include:


  1. Chemical Safety Information from Intergovernmental Organizations – SAFETY EVALUATION OF CERTAIN
  2. European Food Safety Authority – Scientific Opinion on the use of natamycin (E 235) as a food additive


If you want to read more, try the following links..


Posted in Food Additives, Ingredients, Preservative

Sorbic Acid

Kraft Foods has recently announced that they will be removing artificial preservatives (specifically sorbic acid) from most of their “Singles” cheese slices.

What is sorbic acid?

Sorbic acid is a natural organic compound. “Organic” refers to any compound whose molecules contain carbon atoms. It should not be confused with organic farming.

It is most often used as a food preservative. It is also sometimes used as an additive in rubber1 and lubricates. It is estimated that 30,000 tons are produced annually.


Sorbic acid is a colourless solid. It is slightly soluble in water. It is also relatively unstable and degrades rapidly. It has the chemical formula C6H8O2

Sorbic Acid Chemical Structure

Chemical Structure

In 1859, a man named A.W von Hofmann discovered sorbic acid through distillation of rowanberry oil. The scientific name for the rowan tree (also known as the mountain ash) is Sorbus aucuparia. So, you can see where the name comes from. These days, it is produced synthetically.

Sorbic acid is an antimicrobial agent. It is often used as a preservative in food and drinks. It prevents the growth of mold, yeast, and fungi. The salts of sorbic acid are sodium sorbate, potassium sorbate, and calcium sorbate.  The salts are usually preferred in food applications. This is because they are more soluble in water.

One of its disadvantages is that it affects the taste and pH of foods.

Common Uses

It is found in many foods, such as cheeses and breads.

Health Issues / Side Effects

Sorbic acid has been used has a food preservative since the 1940’s. There have been extensive long-term tests that have confirmed its safety. It is on the Centre for Science in the Public Interest list of safe additives.2

E Number

The E number of sorbic acid is 200. Related additives include:


  1. Significantly improved performance of rubber/silica composites – Polymer Journal
  2. Centre for Science in the Public Interest
  3. Chemical Safety Information from Intergovernmental Organizations


If you want to read more, try the following links..

  1. Kraft removing artificial preservatives from cheese slices – CBC
Posted in Food Additives, Ingredients, Preservative

What is Molasses?

Picture of Molasses Container
Picture of Molasses Container



Molasses is also known as treacle. It is a byproduct of processing sugar cane or sugar beets into sugar. It contains roughly 30% sucrose, 12% glucose, and 12% fructose.

How is it Made?

The manufacturing process differs depending on the main ingredient. Sugar cane or sugar beets can be used. Molasses produced from sugar cane is most common in cooking and baking.

Sugar Cane Process:

  1. Sugar cane is harvested. The leaves are removed.
  2. The cane is crushed (or mashed). This removes the juice.
  3. The juice is boiled.


Light molasses is produced after the first boiling of the sugar cane or sugar beet. It is light in colour. It is sweet in taste. Other names include sweet, Barbados, first or mild molasses.


Dark molasses comes after the second boiling when more sugar is extracted. It is darker in colour, thicker and less sweet.


Blackstrap molasses is the syrup produced after the third boiling. It is very thick and dark in colour. It has a bitter taste.


Sulphur dioxide is sometimes added as a preservative. The sulphur dioxide helps prevent fermentation. Green sugar cane that has not matured long enough may ferment. The sulphur dioxide changes the flavour, so molasses may be labelled sulphured or unsulphured.


Fancy molasses isn’t actually a by-product of the sugar making process. It is produced directly from the juice of the sugar cane. It is the lightest and sweetest of the different types.


Cooking molasses is a blend of fancy and blackstrap molasses.


Sorghum syrup is sometimes called sorghum molasses. It is made from juice extracted from a plant called sorghum cane. Sorghum Cane looks a bit like corn without the ears. The juice is boiled and reduced, producing a mild flavoured syrup. This syrup tends to have a thinner consistency than molasses.

When cooking or baking, sorghum can be substituted one-for-one with molasses.  However, any additional sugar should be cut by 1/3 because sorghum is sweeter than molasses.

How Does It Compare to Other Sweeteners:

Because it is not fully refined, it is generally quite low on a relative sweetness scale.

Relative Sweetness Scale Showing Molasses

Sweetness Scale

This scale uses pure sucrose as the reference. All other sweeteners are compared to it.


There are many different uses for molasses. It is used in rum production, dark rye breads, and some types of beer. It is also used as a source for yeast production.


It contains no protein or dietary fibre. It contains almost no fat. One tablespoon (20 g) contains 11.1 grams of sugar.

It can contain significant amounts of several minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron.

Your Thoughts:

What do you think of molasses? Do you like the taste? Do you have any favourite recipes or links that you would like to share?

Leave a comment here or on the Food-Construed Facebook page.


Further Reading:

  1. Grandma’s Pantry – Molasses vs. Sorghum
  2. Amish Acres – Is it Sorghum or Molasses?
  3. Wikipedia – Molasses
Posted in Baking, Cooking, Ingredients

Canadian Crackdown on British Food

Canadian Crackdown on British Food

What Happened?

So, it’s been in the news in Canada and Britain today. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has barred some British food products from being sold in Canada. From the CBC,

British food fans in Saskatoon are stocking up on products that are now considered illegal to sell.

Brit Foods, a specialty store in the city, said it’s been forced to remove a number of popular products from its shelves.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is cracking down on products like Marmite and Irn-Bru,…


Apparently, a shipment containing meat was rejected at Canadian Customs in Montreal. Canada does not allow meat imports from the UK

As a result, other products being imported were also inspected. The two examples that seem to be getting the most press are:


Picture of British Food Irn-Bru CanThis is a Scottish soft drink, pronounced “iron brew”. It contains the ingredients:

Carbonated water, sugar (carbohydrate), citric acid, flavourings (including caffeine and quinine), preservative (E211), colours (E110, E124), ammoniumferric citrate (0.002%)

In Europe, food additives are specified by their E number.  Here, the preservative E211 is Sodium Sulphite.  The two colours, E110 and E124 are Sunset Yellow FCF and Ponceau 4R.  Ponceau 4R is currently not approved for use in the US or Canada.

In 2009, the European Food Safety Authority re-evaluated Ponceau-4R used as a food colouring.  The panel concluded that:

  • There were no long term carcinogenic effects.
  • Combinations of artificial food dyes (including Ponceau 4R) and sodium benzoate have a small but measurable effect on the activity and attention of children.


Picture of British Food MarmiteMarmite is a black, savoury spread for toast or bread.  It can also be used as a cooking ingredient. It is made from spent brewer’s yeast.  It also has vitamins and minerals added.

However, in Canada, the Food and Drug regulations specify which foods are allowed to have vitamins added.  Any food not on the list is prohibited, and this is what happened with the Marmite.

It should be noted that according to the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada website, manufacturers can request that Health Canada allow for the addition of vitamins and mineral nutrients to foods where not currently permitted.

Was it the Right Move?

Most of the people getting the press are complaining about these products being removed.

In my opinion, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is doing their job. There are rules and regulations for a purpose.

Let me know what you think. Please leave a comment.


Further Reading

From the BBC – Canada orders Briton to stop selling Marmite and Irn-Bru

From the Vancouver Sun – Food inspectors removing British imports from store shelves

From the CBC – Saskatoon shop ordered to pull banned British products

Posted in Food Additives, Ingredients

Why is Chlorophyll Added to Food?

Picture of Leaves Containing Chlorophyll

Chlorophyll Makes Leaves Green

Chlorophyll In Food

Chlorophyll is a green pigment. It is commonly found in algae, plants and some types of bacteria.

When added to food, it acts as a dye. It provides an olive/dark-green colour. It has an E number of 140. Other green food colours include:

It may also be known as CI Natural Green 3.


Most people would probably recognize chlorophyll as the chemical responsible for photosynthesis in plants. It is the chemical that helps the plants produce energy from sunlight.

In chemistry, it is considered to be a chlorin pigment. Chlorin (not to be confused with chlorine) is a ring shaped organic molecule. In the case of chlorophyll, the ring will always have a magnesium atom at its center.

It is not soluble in water. It is a fairly unstable dye and fades easily. It loses its vibrant green colour in acidic conditions. Colour loss is accelerated by heat. Therefore, it must be stabilized before use as a food colouring. It dissolves easily in oil and alcohol.

Chlorophyll is not easy to obtain in a pure form. Commercial chlorophyll is produced from grasses. It usually contains other plant material impurities.

Common Uses

Chlorophyll is used in a wide range of products. It is used in drinks, ice cream, popsicles, candies, sauces, pasta, pickles and even some cheeses.

Chlorophyll is also often sold as a health supplement.

Have you ever noticed chlorophyll in an ingredient list? If you have, please leave a comment and let me know about it.

Curcumin is often used with chlorophyll to produce a lime green colour. Curcumin is a yellow dye found in turmeric.

Health Issues / Side Effects

There are a lot of sources that cite the health benefits of chlorophyll. Among other things, it has been said to:

  • Enhance energy
  • Detoxify the liver
  • Eliminate body odour and bad breath
  • Clean the digestive tract
  • Aide in the prevention of liver cancer

It all sounds nice, but there aren’t any scientific studies to back up these claims. At least none that I’ve found. In any case, the amounts used to colour food would probably not have any significant effect.

To much chlorophyll can cause a sensitivity to light.


  1. FDA GRAS Notice for Ethyl Lauroyl Arginate
  2. Australia Food Standards List of Additives
  3. Current EU approved additives and their E Numbers
  4. The Benefits of Chlorophyll

Further Reading

Posted in Colour, Food Additives, Ingredients

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