Additives that improve the structure of foods include emulsifiers, stabilisers and thickeners, as well as modified starch. Additives that improve the structure of foods are used to increase the durability of products during various stages of cooking or processing, such as heating, freezing, thawing and distribution. These additives also enable a consistent structural quality of products to be assured throughout each product's shelf life. This may include preventing liquids from separating out of the product.
Phosphates Phosphates (such as E450, E451 and E452) are stabilisers that are used to alter the water-binding properties of food and prevent water from separating out of products during storage. Phosphates also act as antioxidants, having a positive effect on the colour and aroma of the product. The maximum quantity of phosphate in meat products is 5mg/kg. Atria uses 2–3mg/kg.
Thickeners Thickeners are manufactured from plant seeds (such as locust bean gum (E410) and guar gum (E412)), seaweed (such as sodium alginate (E401) and carrageenan (E407)), sugar fermented by bacteria (xanthan gum (E415)) or chemically modified potato, wheat, maize or rice starch (E1414, E1420). When combined with water, thickeners form a syrupy solution. Sometimes they only take effect when heated. This property is important for products that are separated into portions when they are manufactured. Atria uses thickeners in its products for purposes such as marinades, sauces and mayonnaise. There are no maximum amounts specified for meat products but some substances have maximum amounts when used in children's food, jams and marmalades.
Emulsifiers Emulsifiers (E322, E471, E481) enable two ingredients that do not normally mix to be permanently combined in the form of an emulsion. One example of this is mayonnaise, in which water and oil are permanently mixed with the help of egg yolk. Emulsifiers can also be used to affect a product's viscosity, appearance or mouth feel. Emulsifiers are often manufactured from fats. Some emulsifiers are synthetic.