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What are ‘E-numbers’?

Have you ever wondered what those ‘E-numbers’ are in ingredients lists?  Healthy Food Guide takes you through these common food additives and their codes.

The E numbers are shorthand for additive names and are derived from the international numbering developed for the European Union. These are some common food additives:

  • E102 tartrazine (colour)
  • E251 sodium nitrate (preservative)
  • E330 citric acid (acidity regulator)
  • E300 ascorbic acid or vitamin C (antioxidant)
  • E322 lecithin (emulsifier)
  • E410 locust bean gum (thickener)
  • E440 pectin (gelling agent)
  • E500 sodium carbonate or sodium bicarbonate (raising agents)
  • E621 monosodium L-glutamate (flavour enhancer)
  • E951 aspartame (non-nutritive sweetener)

For more information on E numbers and other food additives, see www.nzfsa.govt.nz

First published: Jan 2008