Types & Sources

Food Ingredient Sources

Food ingredients, including food additives, are as varied in their source as they are in function. Some food additives come from mineral sources that contain phosphorus compounds, which can be used to help foods retain moisture. Other additives come from plant sources like seaweed and kelp, which naturally produce compounds that can be used in the thickening of foods and to maintain texture.

Another source of food ingredients are microbiological substances (e.g., probiotics), which are added to foods to improve digestive health. Ingredients may also come from crops like corn or from foods that would otherwise be wasted like the rinds of citrus fruits.

Many ingredients come from sustainable sources that provide benefits to the countless farmers worldwide that grow and harvest the sources of food ingredients. In other cases, ingredients may be derived from organic chemical sources like hydrocarbons. Here are some common additives along with their sources — click the descriptions below to learn more.

Taste, texture, freshness and appearance are a few of the major contributions food ingredients and food additives make toward the enjoyment of food. By aiding in the processing and preparation of foods, ingredients also help to maintain certain desirable qualities that are associated with various foods.

For example, salad dressings are expected to stay mixed once they have been shaken. Emulsifiers such as lecithin from soybeans help dressings stay mixed and improve texture in many other foods. Emulsifiers are also used to provide smoothness in ice cream, increase volume and impart fine grain quality in breads, and achieve better consistency in cake mixes.

Food ingredients are classified by the functions they serve in our food. Learn more about the different types of ingredients and how they are used here.