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Are food thickeners harmful to humans?

Views: 93     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-12-09      Origin: Site


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Many people are curious. What is a thickener and what are its dangers?

In fact, a thickener is a food additive used mainly to improve and increase the viscosity of foods and to maintain the colour, aroma, flavour and stability of fluid foods and jelly foods. It is also known as a food stabiliser and improves the physical properties of food, increasing its viscosity and giving it a gooey tongue feel. Thickener is a food additive and is harmless to humans. It is mainly used to improve and increase the viscosity of food, to maintain the colour, aroma, taste and stability of fluid food, jelly food, to improve the physical properties of food and to give food a lubricious and palatable sensation.

The real face of thickeners: mostly from natural foods

According to Zhong Kai, an associate researcher at the National Centre for Food Safety Risk Assessment, there are around 30 types of thickeners in food additives, which can give food a sticky and suitable texture. The most common thickeners are modified starches and gums, such as sodium carboxymethyl starch, hydroxypropyl starch, guar gum, xanthan gum, pectin and gelatine.

Thickeners may seem mysterious to say the least, but in fact many of their uses are inspired by our traditional techniques. For example, the secret of experienced cooks who can make a large pot of soup appear to have many eggs floating in it with just one egg is in thickening it. The broth from braised fish becomes frozen in the freezer and the substance that forms the jelly is called gelatine, which can also be called collagen, and is also a common thickening agent.

That said, many thickeners come from natural foods such as sodium alginate and agar. Thickeners are generally very safe and they are also considered dietary fibres. Even if they are so-called synthetic, chemical products, their safety is subject to rigorous testing before they are put on the table.

food thickener

Porridge thickeners: preferring starch

Congee shops use thickeners, more likely because there are too many customers and the cooks don't have time to wait for the rice to slowly thicken, so they have to use thickeners to "boost" the porridge to make it taste better.

Xanthan gum is a microbial fermentation of corn starch, which is in a way also natural. Xanthan gum is the result of microbial fermentation of maize starch and is, in a way, natural. Therefore, there is no scientific basis for the claim that "the long-term use of porridge is harmful to human health".

In addition, from the point of view of cost effectiveness, it is obviously more economical to put starch than food additives. One congee shop owner said, "Xanthan gum is much more expensive than starch, so who would use it? Thickening with starch will thicken the soup porridge." 40 yuan can only buy 2 pounds of xanthan gum, if it is to buy starch enough to buy 20 pounds.

Yogurt thickeners: stable form not harmful

Regular yogurt drinkers know that regular yogurt is thin and liquid, while old yogurt is thicker. Is there a thickening agent added to old yoghurt and is it harmful to the body if eaten regularly?

It is true that stabilisers and thickeners are added to yoghurt, such as sodium carboxymethyl cellulose, which is used in yoghurt to stabilise the organisation of the drink, prevent precipitation and improve the taste. Some companies use a single CMC as a thickening and stabilising agent; some companies compound CMC with other thickening and stabilising agents and emulsifiers. However, as long as the right amount is added, it is not harmful to human body.

However, it should be noted that some thickeners are dextrins and modified starches produced by starch hydrolysis, which are non-toxic and harmless in themselves, but are as likely to raise blood sugar as white sugar. Some people who drink unsweetened yoghurt may experience a rise in blood sugar, which is likely to be caused by the thickening agent. Therefore, before buying sugar-free products, it is important to read the ingredient list and beware of the effects of thickening agents on blood sugar.

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