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Food additives. Second edition. (Book Reviews).

Branen AL, Davidson PM, Salminen S, Thomgate JH III, editors. Marcel Dekker Inc., New York, 2002, 953 pages, ISBN 0-8247-9343-9

This edition is published 11 years after the first edition and justifies the publisher's claim it has been revised and expanded. It contains seven additional chapters and is 200 pages longer. Individual chapters are contributed by different authors.

The authors come from a number of different countries but the chapters progress smoothly from those of a general nature, e.g. food additive intake assessment, risks and benefits of food additives, consumer attitudes to food additives, to those relating to specific functional groups of additives, e.g. antioxidants, antimicrobial agents, emulsifiers.

One chapter, on the role of food additives and chemicals in behavioural learning, activity and sleep problems in children is provided by Australian authors, Joan Breakey, Conor Reilly and Helen Connell. They conclude that what could be called the side effects of food are complex but real and provide a challenge for all those working in related fields. It is one of the several chapters added since the first edition.

Other new chapters of special interest to nutritionists and dietitians are about essential fatty acids, fat substitutes and replacers and food additives for special dietary purposes. This last chapter is notably brief covering just ten pages with one page of references.

Vitamin and mineral addition forms the main subject matter for the chapter titled 'Nutritional Additives' and this chapter provides an admirable and concise account of the role of these additives in human nutrition as well as a section for each on analysis and toxicity. The book's only major venture into the 'functional foods' area is the chapter on essential fatty acids as food additives. The discussion on regulatory control and in particular health claim labelling of this group is restricted to the US situation.

However, the strength of the book is in the chapters on specific functional additives. In the preface to the second edition, the editors reiterate their aim from the first edition. This is that the book should provide a basis for practical selection of the appropriate food additive for a particular food use. They succeed in this aim. Most of the major additive functions are covered with the notable exception of gums and thickeners which did receive separate attention in the first edition. There is a detailed chapter on commercial starches and their potential uses in foods.

Further additions to the first edition are the separation into individual chapters of natural and synthetic colours and a chapter on antibrowning agents which looks at enzymic and non-enzymic browning of fruits and vegetables. This is quite separate from the chapter on antioxidants which restricts itself to oxidation of lipids and the chemical agents used to retard this process.

The most detailed chapters are those on antimicrobial agents--almost 60 pages containing 20 pages of references--acidulants, with 40 pages including 10 pages of references, and emulsifiers with 50 pages containing 11 pages of references. These chapters were present in the first edition but have been extensively rewritten in some sections with many references to papers published in the 1990s added. For example, in antimicrobial agents and the chapter on acidulants, considerable information on the potential use of acids as food additives to control the growth of foodborne pathogens has been included. This is a direct result of experimental work published in the 1990s as the challenge posed by acid tolerant pathogens became more fully recognised.

Two of the new chapters, those on starches and phosphates, both written by authors with industrial backgrounds, almost equal the above mentioned chapters in depth and breadth of treatment and reference the scientific literature to support their claims. European Union and US regulation of food additives receive detailed individual attention but these chapters are likely to be of interest only to specialist readers.

As is to be expected in a multi-author publication, there is some variation between chapters in emphasis of treatment of different aspects of food additive use. All the specific additive chapters have a strong emphasis on technology with different weight given to subjects such as toxicology and legislation depending on the authors' particular interests. The book closes with three appendixes: functional classes, numbering system for food additives and a list of modified starches. All are based on documents from the Codex Alimentarius Commission referenced in footnotes. It appears to have a comprehensive index and is free of obvious typographical errors.

Books covering the wide range of additives at the level that this does are not common. It is a major undertaking which contains a vast amount of information strengthened by the detailed referencing which accompanies most chapters. It can be strongly recommended to general readers and also to more experienced practitioners who have already found the first edition a valuable asset.
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Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Richardson, K.C.
Publication:Nutrition & Dietetics: The Journal of the Dietitians Association of Australia
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 2002
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