Have you ever looked at a food label and noticed lots of complex words and E numbers on them? Most of these are food additives – but what are additives and why are they in our food? Food additives are ingredients that are added to our food for various reasons. Some of them extend the shelf-life of food, while others can improve its taste and appearance. Many food additives are substances which exist in nature. Additives such as ascorbic acid also known as vitamin C, and citric acid both occur naturally in citrus fruits. Food additives are grouped by what they do, such as food colors, preservatives, sweeteners etc.