The E-number system is used to indicate tried and tested additives that have been approved for use throughout the European Union. The ‘E’ stands for ‘Europe’ and the numbers are shorthand for the (often long) chemical name of the additive. Common E-numbers include:
|E-NUMBER||DESCRIPTION AND USE|
|E100-E180||Synthetic colourings used in processed foods, jams, margarine, sweets, confectionery, soft drinks. E102 is the yellow colouring tartrazine. E162 is beetroot red.|
|E200||Sorbic acid; a preservative used in soft drinks and fruit yoghurts.|
|E210-E219||Benzoic acid, benzoates; preservatives used in soft drinks, beer, and salad cream.|
|E220-E228||Sulphur dioxide, sulphites; preservatives used in dried fruit, fruit pie fillings, desiccated coconut, relishes, vinegar, alcoholic drinks.|
|E249-E252||Nitrates, nitrites; preservatives used in some cheeses, and cured and pickled meats, including ham, bacon and sausages.|
|E300-E304||Ascorbic acid, ascorbates; preservatives used to prevent tinned fruit, fruit juices and jams from turning brown.|
|E306||Tocopherols; antioxidants used to prevent vegetable oils from going rancid.|
Sorbitol; a sweetener used in sugar-free confectionery.
All packaged foods must, by law, carry a label that contains a complete and accurate description of the contents. The product’s ingredients are listed in order of weight, from the most to the least proportion.
With rising public interest in healthy eating, most packaged foods and drinks now include nutritional information on the label. This includes such items as the energy value, or number of calories, the food provides, and the amount of protein, carbohydrates, sugars, saturated and unsaturated fats, fibre and sodium it contains.