Food Science

Guide to Food Additives - P

  • By Editor

Guide to Food Additives - P

Name Other Names Purpose Sourced From

Palm Oil

Fat & butter substitute, dough making, baking, cooking

Milled, refined and fractionated from palm fruit

Panch phoran

"Five spices"

Spice blend containing fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds and fennel seeds. Used with vegetable and meat dishes and pickling

Various spices grown lobally

Pandan leaf


Aromatic leaves used to enhance ethnic rice dishes, puddings, baked goods, savory meat dishes, cakes, sweet beverages, and extracts

Obtained from Pandanus amaryllifolius plant, found in tropical regions of South and Southeast Asia

Pantothenic acid

Vitamin B5

Fortification of cereals, infant formulas, energy bars, dried foods and supplements,

Found in shiitake mushrooms, organ meats, egg yolks and seeds


Papaya proteinase I

Breaks down meat fibres in food and serves as a meat tenderisers in powdered mixes

Potease present in papaya and mountain papaya


Paprika, papar, paparka

Spice used in dishes globally, seasoning and coloring agent in rice, stew, meats, soups, sausages, garnishing, broths and condiments

Spice made from dried fruits of the plant varieites of Capsicum annuum family


E905, Paraffin wax, petroleum wax

Food grade, indigestible, wax used to make candies shineier, coating hard cheese, sealing jars, cans & bottles, chewing gums

Synthetic, derived from petroleum, coal or oil


Garden parsley, flat leaf parsley, root parsley, curly leaf parsley

Used in varous cusines as garnish, rice dishes, savory meat dishes, stews, sauces, soups, salads, and breads

Native to the Mediterranean, cultivated globally

Patent blue

E131, Food Blue 5, Sulphan Blue

Uncommonly used to give jellies, desserts and various foods blue color.

Banned in USA & Australia


Peanut Oil

Unrefined peanut oil smoke point of 320F(160C) & refined peanut oil smoke point of 450F(232C), used as frying oil and various cuisines

Extracted from peanuts

Pecan Oil


High smoke point of 470F, deep frying foods, nutty flavor adds to salad dressings & dips, substitute for butter in cooking,

Extracted from pecans after light roasting


"congealed", "curdled"

Vegan gelling agent, thickener and stabilizer, added to jams, marmalades, protein shakes, drinking yogurts, fruit juices, suspending agent and used in amounts similar to fruits (0.5-1.0%)

Found in apples, apricots, cherries, carrots, citrus peels, guavas, pears, rose hips and berries


Nutty aroma and taste, used in flavoring, sauces and dips, flavor enhancer, condiment, for cooking, used in Korean cuisines

Cold pressed from toasted seeds of perilla plant

Phosphated distarch phosphate


Modified resistant starch, 70% fiber, freeze-thaw-stable thickener, used in soups, sauces, frozen gravy and fillings

Synthesized using phosphorylating agent and phosphoric acid reaction

Phosphoric acid

E338, OrthoPhosphoric acid

Acidifying foods and drinks, jams, adds tangy and sour taste

Synthesized by refining phosphate ore and further distillation and oxidation

Phytic acid

E391, inositol polyphosphate, IP6

Used as a preservative

Found in the hull of seeds, nuts, grains and pulses,

Pigment Rubine

Litthol Rubine BK

Coloring agent, insoluble in water & ethanol, used to color cheese rinds

Synthetic azo dye


E235, natamycin

Inhibits fungal growth in dairy & foods, neutral flavor impact, less dependent on pH, can be brined, used in cheeses, sour cream, yogurt, shredded cheeses, sliced cheeses and salami, used in very trace amounts and works by compromising fungal cell membrane

Metabolite produced by bacterial species

Pine seed oil

Pine nut oil, cedar nut oil

Low smoke point, adds nutty flavor, bread preservative

Extracted from pine nuts

Pistachio Oil

Aromatic oil used to add flavor to savory dishes and vegetables

Pressed and extracted from the fruit of pistachio nut

Prune kernel oil

Bitter almond flavor used in gourmet cooking

Pressed and extracted from seeds of prune plums

Poly vinyl pyrrolidone

E1201, PVP, Povidone, polyvidone

Soluble in water & alcohol, fining agent for wine and beers to improve traits of the product, thickening agent in tooth whitening gels




Lightly sweet, replacement for sugar, starch and fat in drinks, cakes, desserts, cereals, puddings, dressings and low-carb products and cooking, thickening agent, prebiotic, used in low doses due to intestinal tolerance being low

Synthetic polymer of glucose

Polyethylene glycol

E1521, polyethylene oxide, PEO

Anti-foaming agent in food and drinks

Synthetic, produced by reacting ethylene oxide with water

Polyglycerol polyricinoleate

E476, PGPR

Viscosity reducing agent, in chocolattes, salad dressings, spreads, and improving texture of baked goods, soluble in fats and oils, insoluble in water and alcohol

Extracted from castor beans or soybean


E900, PDMS, dimethicone

Anti-foaming agent added to cooking oils to prevent splatter during cooking, found in french fries, hash browns, milk shakes & smoothies


Polyoxyethylene (8) stearate


Used in sauces and condiments as an emusifier

Synthetic, produced from ethylene oxide and stearic acid

Polyoxyethylene (40) stearate


Used in baked goods and puddings as an emulsifier

Synthetic, produced from ethylene oxide and stearic acid

Polysorbate 20

E432, Tween 20, Scattics, Montanox 20

Wetting and emulsifying agent used in drinks, mouth drops and ice-cream


Polysorbate 40

E434, Tween 40

Emulsiyfing agent used in baked goods


Polysorbate 60

E435, Tween 60

Emulsifying agent used in baked goods, smoothing ice-cream and increasing its resistance to melting, prevents milk proteins from coating fat droplets


Polysorbate 65

E436, Tween 65

Emulsifying agent used in baked goods, smoothing ice-cream and increasing its resistance to melting, prevents milk proteins from coating fat droplets


Polysorbate 80

E433, Tween 80

Emulsifying agent used in baked goods, smoothing ice-cream and increasing its resistance to melting, prevents milk proteins from coating fat droplets



E1202, PVPP, crospolividone

Stabilizer, insoluble in water, extraction of impurities in winemaking, removing polyphenols in beers, excipient in drugs

Synthetic polymer

Pomegranate seeds

Drink made from seeds, creating grenadine syrup, making sauces for savory foods, spice in Indian & Pakistani foods, dried seeds used in salads, yogurts, ice-creams & toppings, salad dressings, desserts, kebabs, liqueurs, jam spreads

Obtained from fruit Punica granatum, grown in dy regions

Ponceau 4R

E124, Chochineal Red A, Brilliant Scarlet 3R, New Coccine

Red dye used in many foods and beverages

Banned in USA. Permitted in Europe, Asia & Australia

Synthetic red azo dye

Ponceau 6R

E126, Crystal Scarlet, Acid Red 44

Red dye used in various foods and beverages, soluble in water

Synthetic red azo dye

Ponceau SX

E125, Scarlet GN

Red dye used in many foods and beverages

Banned in USA & EU

Synthetic red azo dye

Poppy seed

Poppyseed oil, poppyseed paste

Seeds used to make muffins, rusk, bagels, and cakes, added to hamburger buns, candy bars, thickener in foods, paste used to make flavored fillings, the oil used for various culinary foods

Various types grown globally

Potassium acetates

E261, Potassium salt of acetic acid

Preservative and acidity regulator in various food products

Synthesized by bacterial fermentation of sugars, alcohol, and molasses, present in fruits

Potassium adipate

E357, potassium hexandioate

Acidity regulator used in low-sodium products

Potassium salt of adipic acid, present in beets and sugar cane juice

Potassium alignate

E400, Algin

Hydrating dehydrated products such as slimming aids, thickener for drinks, ice-cream, and jellies

Refined from brown seaweeds

Potassium aluminium silicate

E555, Microcline

Anti-caking agent in f

Obtained from mining

Potassium ascorbate


Fortifying foods with vitamin C, anti-oxidant, preservative

Not permitted in UK & USA. Approved in Australia & New Zealand.

Potassium salt of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) & ascorbate(mineral)

Potassium benzoate


Inhibits growth of mold, yeast, and bacteria, used in sparkling drinks, soft drinks pickles and frogurts

Derived from benzoic acid and esters found in most fruits, especially berries, mushrooms, cinnamon, cloves, and dairy

Potassium bicarbonate

E501(ii), potassium hydrogen carbonate

Acidity regulator, buffering agent in winemaking, improving taste in club soda and reduce effervescence

Synthesized from potassium chloride, a mineral salt

Potassium bisulphite

E228, potassium hydrogen sulfite

Sterilizing agent in alcohol production, non-stable white powder, preservative

Mixture of salts to produce potassium and bisulfite ions

Potassium bromate


White powder, strong oxidizing agent, improves the strength of dough to increase rising, production of malt barley

Banned in EU, Argentina, Brazil, Canada & many countries, Permitted in USA. Prop 65 in California, USA.


Potassium carbonate


Production of grass jelly, Chinese hand-pulled noodles, mone cake, tenderizing tripe, German gingerbread, baking agent, alkalizing cocoa powder to produced Dutch-processed chocolate, buffering agent in mead & wine

White salt produced synthetically found in potash, pearl ash and salts of tartar

Potassium chloride

E508, potassium salt, KCl

Added to enhance the flavor of low sodium salts, usually more bitter, potassium fortification in foods

Small amounts found in sea salt and rock salt

Potassium citrate

E332(ii), tripotassium citrate

White crystalline powder, salty taste, buffering agent in soft drinks, nutrient for yeasts in fermented products

Potassium salt of citric acid, found in cells of living organisms, fruits and commercially made by bacterial fermentation

Potassium ferrocyanide

E536, potassium hexacyanidoferrate(II)

Anti-caking agent used to remove copper(used as a fungicide on grapes) from red wine, salt substitutes


Potassium fumarate


Acidity regulator, fortifying foods with potassium


Potassium gluconate


Fortifying foods with potassium, yeast food, acidity regulator

Potassium salt of gluconic acid, found in fruits, honey & wine

Potassium hydrogen sulphite

E228, potassium bisulfite

Sterilizing agent in alcohol production, non-stable white powder, preservative

Mixture of salts to produce potassium and bisulfite ions

Potassium hydroxide

E525, caustic potash

Thickening agent, acidity regulator & stabilizer, improve the peeling of fruits and olives

Synthesized by combining potassium carbonate and calcium hydroxide

Potassium lactate


Preservative used to extend the shelf life of meat and poultry due to the anti-microbial effect

Potassium salt of lactic acid(found in milk and body), synthesized by bacterial fermentation

Potassium malate


Acidity regulator in canned foods, sauces, drinks, sauces & various products, antioxidant & flavoring agent

Synthesized, salt found in plants

Potassium metabisulpite

E224, potassium ppyrosulfite

Common wine additive that acts as an antioxidant that protects flavor & color, inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungi in beer, bleaching agent in coconut cream, pickle & lemon juice preservative

Synthesized, potassium salt of sulphurous acid

Potassium nitrate

E252, saltpeter, nitrate of potash

Reacts with hemoglobin in processed meats such as salami, ham, dried meats, bacon, sausage & corned beef to give it a pink color, thickening agent in soups & stews, a softening agent in beans and meats

Synthesized by combining ammonium nitrate with potassium hydroxide, found in vegetables and niter mineral

Potassium nitrite

E249, INS 249

Anti-bacterial preservative used in meat products

Synthesized by reduction of potassium nitrate

Potassium phosphates

E340(i) Monopotassium dihydrogen phosphate

E340(ii) Dipotassium monohydrogen phosphate

E340(iii) Tripotassium phosphate

Acidity regulator & metal-binding agents, an anti-clumping agent in powders

Synthesized by reduction of potassium nitrate

Potassium propionate

E283, potassium propanoate

Preservative & anti-fungal agent, used in baked goods

Synthesized from propionic acid, produced by bacterial fermentation in cheese production & large intestines

Potassium sodium tartrate

E337, Rochelle salt, Seignette salt

Adds a salty and cooling taste to foods, acidity regulator and antioxidant, stabilizer  

Crystalline acid deposit inside wine barrels

Potassium sorbate

E202, Sorbistat potassium

Preservative that inhibits growth of mold and yeast in cheese, wine, dried meats, dried fruits, drinks & baked goods, fast foods, stabilizes wine by stopping yeast growth & improving clarity

Present in berries, produced synthetically from sorbic acid

Potassium sulphate

E515(i), arcanite, potash of sulphur, SOP

Used to treat water in brewing beer

Synthesized, found as a mineral

Potassium sulphite


Food preservative by forming sulfurous acid in acidic conditions, bleaching agent in sugar production,

Synthesized by thermal decomposition of potassium metabisulphite (E224)

Potassium tartrate

E336, dipotassium tartrate, argol

Food preservative by forming sulfurous acid in acidic conditions, bleaching agent in sugar production,



Primula vulgaris, English primrose

Edible leaves and flowers, mild to bitter flavored leaves, making soups, teas, and wine

Plant native to southern Europe, northwest Africa & Southwest Asia

Processed Eucheuma seaweed

E407a, Gusô

Emulsifier, stabilizer, thickener & carrier

Native to Equator regions, especially Southeast Asia, Africa & Indo-Pacific

Propane-1,2-diol alignate

E405, Hydroxypropyl alignate

Thickening agent used in ice-cream, desserts and confectionery

Derived from kelp

Propionic acid

E280, ethanecarboxylic acid

Anti-fungal preservative sometimes used in baked goods to inhibit bacterial spoilage

Found in fermented foods, degradation of sugar

Propyl gallate


Antioxidant that protects oils and fats against hydrogen peroxide, rancidity and free radical oxidation, restricted use allowed in foods

Synthesized from propanol and gallic acid, found in plants

Propyl glycol

E1520, propane-1,2-diol

Viscous & colorless liquid used in coffee-drinks, liquid sweeteners, ice-cream, dairy & soda, used in alcohol sanitizers to prevent skin drying, dissolves colors and flavors while acting as a preservative

Synthetic, produced from propylene oxide or a byproduct of biodiesel manufacturing

Propyl glycol alignate

E405, Hydroxypropyl alignate

Thickening agent used in ice-cream, desserts and confectionery

Derived from kelp


E216, Nipasol, Solbrol P

Used as a preservative against yeasts and fungi in low concentration

Synthesized, present in plants and some insects

Pumpkin seed

Nutty tasting oil used as salad dressing, desserts, pumpkin soups and various ethnic dishes

Solvent extracted from pumpkin seeds


Flavoring agent

FDA doesn’t allow the use as flavoring agent but naturally occurring can be used.

Organic compound found in plant oils


Several plants with edible leaves of different plant families

Nutty tasting oil used as salad dressing, desserts, pumpkin soups and various ethnic dishes

Families of plants found globally

Pyridoxine hydrochloride

Vitamin B6

Vitamin required by the body to make amino acids, carbohydrates, and lipids, fortification of foods

Found in fruits, vegetables, and grains

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