Guide to Food Additives - S

Guide to Food Additives - S

Name Other Names Purpose Source


E954, Benzoic sulfimide, “sugary”

Heat stable, relatively inert sweetener used in carbonated soft drinks, candies and cookies. 300-400 times as sweet as sucrose(table sugar).


Safflower oil

Flavorless & colorless oil used in salad dressings, margarines, cooking oil and various food products. Nutritionally similar to sunflower oil.

Cold-pressed from safflower seeds, Plant cultivated globally with major cultivation in Russia, Mexico & Kazakhstan.


“Bastard saffron"

Flower used as a substitute for saffron, making herbal teas.

Plant cultivated globally with major cultivation in Russia, Mexico & Kazakhstan.


Metallic honey aroma and hay-like taste, adds yellow-orange color to foods. Used in making confectioneries & liquors, savory dishes, dry-cured meats.

Grown in a belt extending from Spain to Kashmir and various places across the globe

Saigon Cinnamon

Vietnamese cinnamon, Vietnamese cassia

Aromatic bark used in Vietnamese cuisine, broths, soups and noodles

Produced primarily in Vietnam

Salad burnet

Garden burnet, sanguisorba minor, burnet

Leaves used as ingredient in salads, dressings & sauces, similar to mint leaves.

Plant native to Europe and most of North America


Sodium Chloride

Provides one of the major flavor sensations in food, added to meats, vegetables, fruits, dairy, and canned foods. Acts as a preservative as well. Suppresses bitterness. Also used in condiments such as soy sauce and dippings.

Synthesized or refined from mineral deposits. Top salt producers include China, USA, India, Germany, Canada & Australia.



Leaves & bark used as a flavoring and aromatic agent in jams, pies, sauces, and marinades. Nut substitute. Oil extracted adds flavor to ice-cream, baked goods, beverages, and alcoholic drinks.

Various families of plants found globally. Commercially, the plant is grown mainly in Australia



Used to flavor foods, part of various cuisines, flavoring black tea. Aroma similar to rosemary & thyme.

Plant native to North Africa, Europe, Middle East & Central Asia

Scarlet GN

E125, Ponceau SC, C.I. Food Red 1

Red food color

Not permitted in the USA & EU

Synthetic azo dye

Sesame oil

Cooking oil with nutty aroma and taste, popular in Asian cuisines. Used in stir-frying, saute, seasonings and sauces.

Extracted using various methods from sesame seeds

Sesame seed

Used in various cuisines for its nutty flavor. Added to bread, buns, crackers, bagels, sushi, salads, baked snacks, marinades for meats, soups, snacks, wafers, brittles, pastes, candies and in making sesame seed oil.

Plant roduced globally but primarily in Tanzania, Myanmar, India, Sudan & China


Used with wax to preserve and shine citrus fruits and jelly beans

Resin excreted by female lac bug on trees in Indian & Thai forests

Silicon dioxide

E551, quartz, silica, silicea sand

Water absorber to prevent powder from caking, Added to spices, blends, mixes & non-dairy creamers. Used in wine, beer and juice as fining agent.

Found within Earth’s surface, plants and animals. Obtained by mining or purifying quartz.



Food coloring, used in very small amount as a decorative foil in Indian & Pakistani dishes, decorating cakes, cookies, and desserts

Refined from silver ore from mines globally

Siraitia grosvenorii

Monk fruit, luo han guo

Fruit extract 300 times sweeter than table sugar, as a low-calorie sweetener in drinks and foods. Fruit used to make herbal teas or soups.

Mogrosides in fruits are responsible for the sweetness. They are extracted by solvent extraction.

Sodium acetate

E262, sodium ethanoate, Hot ice

Used as a seasoning to impart a “salt & vinegar” taste in chips.

Present in plants and animals. Synthesized, using acetic acid and sodium hydroxide.

Sodium adipate

E262, sodium ethanoate, Hot ice

Used as a seasoning to impart a “salt & vinegar” taste in chips.

Sodium salt of adipic acid. Adipic acid found in sugar cane and beets.

Sodium alginate


Thickening and emulsifying agent. Rapidly absorb water and used for slimming products, soups, ice-cream, drinks, and jellies.

Extracted from brown seaweed

Sodium aluminium phosphate

E541, aluminum sodium salt

Acts as an acid in baking powders which serve as leavening agents in baked foods and releases carbon dioxide while baking, emulsifier in cheese

Synthetic, sodium salt of aluminum phosphates

Sodium aluminosilicate

E301, Vitamin C

Commonly used to fortify foods with Vitamin C, added to fruit juices and drinks

Produced from various minerals

Sodium ascorbate

E554, aluminum sodium silicate

Used as an anti-caking agent in dry products and powders

Synthesized by dissolving ascorbic acid(found in citrus fruits) & sodium bicarbonate in water

Sodium benzoate

E211, benzoate of soda

Food preservative added to salad dressings, carbonated beverages, jams, juices, pickles, condiments, and frogurt

Synthesized from benzoic acid(found in fruits, berries & dairy)

Sodium bicarbonate

E500(ii), baking soda, bicarbonate of soda, sodium hydrogen carbonate

Leavening agent in baking that reacts with an acid to produce carbon dioxide which creates expansion in baked goods, part of baking powder. Also used as a meat tenderizer, an ingredient in breading in fried foods, softening peas & beans while cooking.

Synthesized or refining from mined ore

Sodium bisulfite

E222, sodium hydrogen sulfite

A preservative in foods and beverages such as dairy, juices, onions and alcoholic drinks


Sodium carbonate

E500(i), washing soda, soda ash, soda crystals

Acidity regulator, anti-caking, stabilizing & raising agent. Provides ramen noodles flavor and texture, an ingredient in moon cakes, German pretzels & lye rolls.

Synthesized, refined, produced by reacting sodium chloride and limestone.

Sodium carboxymethylcellulose

E466, carmellose, cellulose gum

Thickener and stabilizer used to make ice creams without churning or low temperatures, reduced fat products, baked goods, emulsifier in chewing gum, peanut butter & margarines

Derivative of cellulose, organic compound found in plant cells

Sodium citrate

E331, E331(i): Monosodium Citrate, E331(ii) Disodium citrate, E331(iii) Trisodium citrate

Increases antioxidant activity in foods, acidity regulators & aroma compounds, increase gel strength, decrease browning in fruits & fruit products

Increases antioxidant activity in foods, acidity regulators & aroma compounds, increase gel strength, decrease browning in fruits & fruit products

Sodium dehydroacetate


Preservative for fruits, vegetables, fruit juice, honey, beer, milk, protein, and fat products, inhibits bacterial and fungal growth


Sodium erythorbate


Used in processed meats such as hot dogs and beef sticks to speed up curing and retaining pink color, an antioxidant that stabilizes flavor and inhibits nitrosamine production in meats. Also used in potato salads, baked foods, and drinks.

Produced from sugars in beets, corn and sugar cane

Sodium erythorbin




Sodium ethyl para-hydroxbenzoate

E214, Ethylparaben, Solbrol A

Anti-fungal preservative

Esters of benzoic acid, benzoates and benzoic acids are found in fruits, dairy, mushrooms and various foods

Sodium ferrocyanide

E535, Yellow prussiate of soda

Anti-fungal preservative

Synthetic, produced using hydrogen ferrocyanide and sodium hydroxide

Sodium formate

E237, sodium methanoate

Buffering agent & preservative. Added to fruit juices, beverage, vegetables, and various food products.

Synthesized using sodium hydroxide and carbon monoxide. Fumaric acid present in insect and venom.

Sodium fumarate


Acidity regulator. Added to confectionery, baked goods, and baking powder.

The sodium salt of fumaric acid. Fumaric acid present in insect and venom

Sodium gluconate


Sequestrant that binds to metal. Serves as a nutrient for yeast.

The sodium salt of gluconic acid. Gluconic acid is found in fruits, honey, and wine.

Sodium hydrogen acetate


Gives food a “salt & vinegar” flavor

The sodium salt of acetic acid. Acetic acid is found in most fruits. Produced commercial by bacterial fermentation of sugar.

Sodium hydroxide

E524, Caustic soda, lye, white caustic, ascarite

Washing and cleaning of fruits, vegetables, cocoa, caramel coloring, poultry, softening olives, crisping lye rolls, soft drinks, and thickening ice-cream. Lye water used in moon cakes, noodles, and making crusts shiny.


Sodium lactate

E325, Sodium DL-lactate

Acts as a preservative, bulking agent, and acidity regulator. Used in cheese, confectionery, ice-cream jellies, canned foods, and soups

Produced by bacterial fermentation using cornstarch, potatoes, molasses, sugar, and tapioca

Sodium malate

E350, E350(i) monosodium malate, 350(ii) disodium malate

Acidity regulator and flavoring agent with similar taste to table salt(sodium chloride). Soluble in water.

The sodium salt of malic acid. Malic acid is found in fruits.

Sodium metabisulfite

E223, sodium pyrosulfite, sodium disulfite

Used in preserving food and drinks such as onions, fruit juice, baked goods, and alcoholic beverages. A Bleaching agent in producing coconut cream.

Synthesized using sodium hydroxide and sulfur dioxide

Sodium methyl para-hydroxybenzoate

E223, sodium pyrosulfite, sodium disulfite

A preservative against yeast and fungi

Synthetic, sodium salt of methylparaben

Sodium nitrate

E251, Soda niter, Peru saltpeter

Preservative and color enhancing agent used in meat and poultry. Highly soluble in water.

Synthetic white powder

Sodium nitrite


Gives pink and red shade to processed meats such as ham, bacon, hot dogs, and bologna. Prevents botulism and inhibits microbial growth in meat. Inhibits fat oxidation that leads to rancidity in meat.

Present in vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce, spinach, parsley, and cauliflower

Sodium orthophenyl phenol


Highly soluble in water and spayed on citrus fruits to protect against bacterial growth

The sodium salt of phenyl phenol, synthesized

Sodium propionate

E281, napropion

Food preservative that inhibits mold growth in baked goods

Synthesized by reacting propionic acid and sodium carbonate

Sodium propyl para-hydroxybenzoate


Food preservative that inhibits bacterial growth, against yeast and fungi

Found in several plants and insects, synthesized for commercial purposes

Sodium sorbate


A food preservative that is effective against fungi and yeast at low pH. Used in fermented products, confectionery, salads, cheese, bread, cakes, baked goods, pizza, soups, wine, and drinks

The sodium salt of sorbic acid. Sorbic acid initially found in unripe berries of the rowan tree.

Sodium stearoyl lactylate


Emulsifier, softener and stabilizer used in a wide variety of baked goods, desserts, cereals, waffles, instant rice, icings, puddings, fillings, beverage mixes, creamers, snack dips, sauces, chewing gums, canned meats, and emulsions.


Sodium succinates

E364, 364(i) monosodium succinate, 364(ii) disodium succinate

Acidity regulator & flavor enhancer

Sodium salts of succinic acid, found in living organisms, fruits and vegetables

Sodium sulfite

E221, Hypo clear

A white powder that forms sulfurous acid in acidic conditions to act as a preservative. Oxidizing and bleaching agent. Prevents browning and used as a bread enhancer.

Synthesized using sodium hydroxide and sulfur dioxide

Sodium tartrates

E335, Sal tartar, E335(i) monosodium tartrate, 335(ii) disodium tartrate

An emulsifier and binding agent in jellies, sausages, and margarine

Sodium salts of tartaric acid. Tartaric acid is found in many fruits and commercially produced from waste in wine production.

Sodium tetraborate

E285, borax decahydrate

Used as a preservative

Banned in the USA, China, Thailand, and various countries

Found as a mineral deposit

Sorbic acid

E200, 2,4-hexadienoic acid

Anti-microbial agents used as preservatives in foods that inhibit the growth of mold, yeast, and fungi

First isolated from unripe berries of the rowan tree, synthesized commercially.

Sorbitan monolaurate


Emulsifier and stabilizer, metabolized to sorbitol and lauric acid without any side effects

Synthesized using sorbitol and lauric acid

Sorbitan monooleate


Emulsifier and stabilizer, metabolized to sorbitol and lauric acid without any side effects

Synthesized using sorbitol and lauric acid

Sorbitan monopalmitate

E495, Span 40

Emulsifier and stabilizer, metabolized to sorbitol and lauric acid with no side effects. Modifies the crystallization of fats. Insoluble in water.

Synthesized using sorbitol and lauric acid

Sorbitan monostearate


An emulsifier used to mix water and oil. It also serves as a wetting and dispersing agent.

Synthetic wax made from sorbitan(a derivative of sorbitol) and stearic acid

Sorbitan tristearate


Used as a dispersing, emulsifying, and stabilizing agent in foods and sprays.

Synthesized using sorbitol and lauric acid


E420, glucitol, D-sorbitol

Sweet sugar alcohol used as a sweetener in various low sugar food products.

Synthesized from glucose using reduction. Found in certain fruits such as apples, pears, prunes, and peaches.


Garden sorrel, common sorrel, spinach dock

Leaves used in soups, sauces, stews, curries or salads. Flavor similar to kiwifruit or strawberries.

Occurs in European grasslands, northern Mediterranean & Central Asia. Grown globally.


Soya bean, soy

Oil hydrogenated to make vegetable and cooking oil. Used to make soy milk, tofu, soy lecithin(emulsifier), infant formulas, meat and dairy alternatives, soy nut butter, coffee substitute, and soy sauce. Soybean flour used in baked goods, thickening sauces, and reducing oil absorption during frying.

Produced globally with world leaders being the United States & Brazil


Garden mint, common mint, lamb mint, mackerel mint

Spearmint leaves are used to make mint teas, mixed alcoholic drinks, and gum due to its pungent aroma. Spearmint oil is used to flavor confectionery and toothpaste.

The plant is grown in nearly all temperate regions

Star anise

Badian, Chinese star anise

It contains anethole which acts as a flavoring agent, substitute for anise, used in liquor and hot wine production, enhancing the flavor of the meat. Also used in ethnic cuisines and teas as a spice.

Plant native to Vietman and southwest China

Starch sodium octenylsuccinate


Used rarely as a thickening agent, not absorbed by the gut, fermented by microbiota, hydrolyzed by digestive enzymes.

Produced by modifying starch

Stearic acid

E570, octadecanoic acid, C18:0

Used in chewing gums, baked goods and helps impart a buttery flavor, texture, and aroma

Commercially made from cottonseed oil, part of fats from plant and animal sources

Stearyl palmityl tartrate


E483, Stearyl tartrate

Emulsifier and stabilizer used in baked goods

Limited usage allowed. Banned in Australia

Synthesized by esterification of tartaric acid(found in many fruits) with stearyl alcohol(hydrogenation of stearic acid or fat)

Succinic acid

E363, Butanedioic acid, Spirit of Amber

Acidity regulator and flavoring agent, adds sourness to umami taste

Present in living organisms, including fruits and vegetables. Synthesized commercially using various methods.


E955, Splenda

Zero-calorie sweetener. 320-1000 times sweeter than sucrose(table sugar). Used to sweeten food and beverages such as candy, breakfast bars, soft drinks, canned fruits. Part of yellow-colored sweetener blends along with bulking agents(eg. maltodextrin). Unstable and granular at high heat.

Synthesized by chlorination of sucrose



Esters of fats and sugars used in different products as emulsifiers and stabilizers in dairy drinks, ice-creams, yogurts, sorbets, fruity desserts, cocoa mixes, chewing gums, puddings, processed meats, egg custards, soups, broths, and sauces.

Obtained by reacting sucrose(table sugar) and an edible oil or fat

Sucrose acetate isobutyrate

E444, sucrose acetate isobutyrate

An emulsifying and thickening agent used in cocktail mixers, beer, malt drinks, and wine coolers

Synthesized by esterification of sucrose with anhydride compounds


Table sugar, granulated sugar, regular sugar

Used in various foods and beverages, cooking and baking, creating sweet syrups, molasses and hard candy. Fermentation of fruit sugar used in winemaking. Used to create brown sugar by coating refined sugar with molasses.

Present in most fruits and vegetables. Commercially produced using sugarcane and sugar beets.

Sulfur dioxide

E220, Sulfurous anhydride

Used as a preservative against microbial contamination. Added to dried fruits. Stops wine from further fermentation. Bleaching of flour. Prevents discoloration of white wine and stabilizes Vitamin C.

Synthesized. Produced also during wine and beer production

Sulfuric acid

E513, oil of vitriol

Acidity regulator used in the production of cheese and beer production, sugar refineries, and water treatment. Breaks down proteins and carbohydrates to help create modified starch and whey proteins.

Synthesized by using sulfur, oxygen, and water using the contact process or wet sulfuric acid process. Present as sulfide mineral form.


Sumach, sumac, soumak, sumaq

Fruits ground to red-purple powder to add tart and lemon taste to salads, meats, cuisines, garnish on hummus, spice blends, kebabs, and falafel. Also used to make sumac-ade(drink).

Family of plants grown in subtropical and temperate regions in the world

Sunflower oil

Used in low to high temperature cooking(450F smoke point), an ingredient in salad dressings, making sunflower butter and frying snacks such as fries and chips

Extracted from sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds

Eaten as a snack, garnish on recipes such as salads, popular in various cuisines and added to baked goods and candies for a nutty flavor. Used to create sunflower butter.

Fruit of sunflower seed. Commercially produced majorly in Ukraine and Russia.

Sunset Yellow FCF

E110, Orange Yellow S, FD&C Yellow 6

Yellow food color used in various food products.

Banned in certain countries. Permitted in the USA & EU.


Sweet basil

Genovese basil

Used for flavoring agent in ethnic cuisines for flavoring soups, truffles, ice-creams, pesto, and various savory foods

Plant native to central Africa and Southeast Asia

Sweet woodruff

Sweetscented bedstraw, wild baby’s breath, master of the woods

Aromatic herb used to flavor May wine, fruit punch, German beer, brandy, jelly, jam, soft drink, ice-cream, sherbet powder, and herbal tea.

Plant native to Europe and Russia naturalized in various parts of the world

Szechuan pepper

Sichuan pepper

Spice used in Batak(Indonesia) and Sichuan(China) cuisines. Light lemon flavor with a tingly sensation. Combined with pepper to create “Mandarin” flavor. Added to dumplings, gravies, sauces, pastes, meat dishes, cakes and biscuits

Pepper native to Sichuan province in China and various parts of central Asia.