Food additives are natural or synthetic chemicals added to food to preserve flavor, enhance its texture or appearance, or for other technological functions. Of the 22 chemical food safety issues, including topics such as growth promoters, heavy metals, irradiation, pesticides, and plant toxins, food additives have been found the most topical concern for young veterinary students in Denmark, reflecting the “common basic level of specific curiosity” among the populace (Brimer, 2004). Paradoxically, additives can be seen to be among the safest chemicals in food due to their low toxicity, rigorous safety testing, and control of use by the law (Kaptan and Kayisoglu, 2015). Food additives are subject to EU regulation, and each authorized food additive is assigned a unique E number.
However, the use of additives is an emotional topic that provokes consumer concern (Brimer, 2004; EUFIC, 2014). Generally, there is unawareness and confusion among consumers about the functions and advantages of food additives and concerns about their health hazards. In some cases, consumers described them as unnatural, toxic, or carcinogenic substances, and expressed suspicions about food colors. When consumers recognize additives on food labels, this may effectuate a negative buying decision. Consumer education on functions, advantages, safety issues, lists of ingredients, and control programs of food additives has been shown to enhance consumers' abilities to make informed decisions about food additives (Kaptan and Kayisoglu, 2015; Altu and Elmaci, 1995). Looking specifically at the dairy industry, much of the innovative new product development has been carried out in the area of health and wellness. Besides the introduction of more natural dairy products with fewer additives, this has also included development of dairy products with less fat and less calories, and particularly deployment of artificial sweeteners (Sobrino-Lopez and Martin-Belloso, 2008; Moure et al., 2006).