Foodstuff ingredients

In this context, foodstuff ingredients include food additives as defined in the EU additives regulation, and other substances which are usually added to foodstuffs. They all have one thing in common – a relatively small proportion is used in the finished foodstuff. They are added to the foodstuffs to fulfil a specific function, e.g. for preservation, sweetness, or acidic regulation.

They have often been omitted from many life cycle assessments due to the small quantities involved and an occasional lack of data (cut-off). However, because they are often the end product of comparatively long and complex process chains, they sometimes have a surprisingly high impact on the environment.

ifeu has spent many years investigating the life cycle assessment of different ingredients in a range of projects undertaken in conjunction with the food and beverages industry. On some occasions ifeu has issued a complete life cycle assessment, and at other times has provided an estimate backed up with scientific data. The results have been used both for the evaluation of complete foodstuffs and for calculating corporate environmental balance sheets.


Examples of foodstuff ingredients

Antioxidants and acidity regulators

  • Malic acid
  • Ascorbic acid
  • Citric acid / citrate
  • Lactic acid
  • Orthophosphoric acid / phosphate


  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Fructose glucose syrup (corn syrup/isoglucose/HFCS)
  • Glucose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Cane sugar
  • Beet sugar


  • Aspartame
  • Acesulfame K
  • Cyclamate
  • Saccharin
  • Stevia
  • Sucralose
  • Xylitol

Emulsifiers, stabilisers, thickening and gelling agents

  • Guar gum
  • Acacia gum (gum arabic)
  • Pectins
  • Xanthan gum


  • Benzoic acid,
  • Potassium sorbate
  • Lactic acid
  • Sodium benzoate

Other common ingredients

  • 1,2-propanediol
  • Ethanol
  • Glucuronolactone
  • Caffeine (natural/synthetic)
  • Synthetic flavouring substances
  • Taurin