We often stand in front of the refrigerator and consider whether a food product is still good. Far too often, we are unsure. We throw it in the trash. Yet many products contain preservatives that make premature throwing away unnecessary.
The use and necessity of preservatives in food is often debated. In fact, however, they play an important role. Preservatives are substances added to inhibit or stop the growth of bacteria, yeast and mold. They prevent food from deteriorating prematurely. Preserving has been done for thousands of years.
There are numerous preservation methods: Fermenting, salting and sugaring are just a few. Preservatives, such as sodium benzoates, are used in industry. Without preservatives, the shelf life of many foods would be significantly shortened and they would spoil more quickly. Throwing food away, however, is a bad decision. Why?
Quick decision. Massive impact.
Food waste impacts many areas:
Social aspects: Currently, around 828 million people suffer from hunger, while at the same time we waste a lot of food. If we treated our food with more respect, more people would be able to eat.
Environment: Food production has a major impact on climate change and biodiversity. Food waste puts unnecessary pressure on the environment. Resources such as water and land are wasted producing food that is not consumed.
Economy: Food waste results in wasted resources and money invested in food production. It also results in a loss of income for farmers and businesses in the food industry.
Health: Food is wasted that is important for a balanced diet. It can also lead to a waste of food resources that are important for feeding people with special needs.
Facts & Figures
According to an estimate by the UN Environment Program, around 931 million tons of food were thrown away worldwide in 2021.
Use-by date as an indicator
The reasons for food waste are various. But we consumers are one of the biggest sources. Why? One fact is the early disposal of food whose best-before date has technically passed.
The best-before date does not necessarily mean that food has spoiled by the deadline. Often it is still edible. This is because the best-before date is merely an indicator. Many products contain preservatives such as benzoic acid (E210), sodium benzoate (E211), Nagardo® or cold sterilizers such as Velcorin® and are edible for much longer, even beyond the best-before date.
Unfortunately, there is no method that permanently preserves food and keeps it fresh. However, food producers can use preservatives to significantly extend the shelf life without affecting the taste.Such as -
Benzoic acid (E210) is found as a preservative in many different food applications, such as pizza,soft drinks or tortillas. Benzoic acid prevents the formation of yeast and mold, ensuring that you can enjoy the products for a long time.
LANXESS supplies benzoic acid in various degrees of purity and for many different applications. However, only the purest benzoic acid is used for the food market. Did you know that LANXESS supplies one of the purest benzoic acids available on the market? It is sold under the name Purox® B. By the way, benzoic acid occurs naturally in many fruits, like cinnamon and in cloves.
Sodium benzoate (E211) is the salt of benzoic acid. It is nature-identical and is also used as a preservative in foods such as sauces, dressings and soft drinks.
Like benzoic acid, sodium benzoate prevents microbial growth, ensuring a long shelf life. Sodium benzoate is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as a food additive!
Our sodium benzoate has the trade name Purox® S.
Smell, see, taste
Without preservatives, food would spoil much sooner and food waste would probably be even higher. In the future, before we throw potato salad in the trash unopened just because the expiration date has passed, we should open it and check if:
it smells uncharacteristically,
there are changes in color, or
it tastes different.
Then, and only then, throwing it away is the right option.
5 tips against food waste:
Shop: A weekly meal plan helps to plan food better. And groceries can be purchased more selectively with a shopping list.
Store: Store fruits and vegetables properly, otherwise they will spoil faster. Not everything belongs in the fridge, for example fruit: mangos, pineapples, or bananas last longer on a fruit tray. Apples should not be stored with other fruit as it will spoil faster.
Portions that are too large: Portions are often too large. It is better to adjust the portions to the needs. Trick: Use smaller plates, so you automatically eat less.
Taste: It can always happen that you want to try something new, which then does not taste good, like you thought it would. How about giving sealed leftovers to your neighbors to try?
Best-before date: Do not throw away food immediately when the best-before date has passed. It is better to open, smell and/or taste it first. Usually food is edible for much longer.