Polishing agents are a relatively new and relatively large group of food additives. They are widely used in the food industry to preserve moisture and to create a surface protective layer of the product . They ensure a bright shine and a high level of non-stickiness of the finished products. Edible or easily removable coatings are not considered polishing agents.
In addition, these substances improve the structure, act as a lubricant , which is a sealant that stops the loss of moisture and retains oil. In the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industry, they are often used in supplements, tablets and capsules.
Many polishes are derived from waxes naturally produced by animals and plants to retain moisture, while others are synthetically derived from petroleum.
What polishing substances can we encounter in the food industry?
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How do polishing agents work?
Polishing agents are applied as a powder or liquid layer to the product by mechanical processes, which may be spraying, mixing or dipping. After the coating is evenly applied to the product, the coating is stabilized by drying, heating, cooling or freezing , which helps extend the product’s life.
These substances create a glossy, smooth surface that provides a moisture-resistant protective barrier i. The coating helps preserve food products by locking in internal moisture or preventing degradation by external moisture, resulting in extended shelf life.
Where are polishing agents used?
Polishing agents are used to enhance the aesthetic appearance of food products by improving their gloss or changing their color. They can also act as release agents to prevent packaging from sticking to products. They add shine to various fruits, limit drying and thus prevent their shrinking and weight loss. For vegetables, they prevent water loss and improve their appearance. Glossy surfaces and coatings are then applied to various confections, where they maintain their shape and improve color and taste.
Confectionery glaze is often used to create a shiny surface for confections.
Polishing agents are used as a coating aid for tablets and capsules to improve their shelf life. Encapsulation is also used to protect drugs and control their release.
Waxes are used in lipsticks, lip balms, emollients and other skin care products.
In which foods can we find polishing substances?
- dairy products
- fruits and vegetables (see our detailed crop catalog to learn everything important about different types of fruits and vegetables)
- processed foods
- bakery and confectionery products
- chewing gums
- processed nuts
Is it safe to use polishing agents in food?
The amount of polishing substances used is set by regulations and normal consumption should not have any significant negative effects on our health.