Here are some commonly used food additives:
Alpha tocopherol: Vitamin E. Prevents rancidity in vegetable oils.
Annato: Food coloring.
Ascorbic acid: Vitamin C. Prevents loss of color and flavor.
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT): Prevent rancidity in oils and in foods that contain oils.
Carrageenan: Thickening agent in creamy foods.
Casein: Thickens and whitens foods.
EDTA: Prevents food spoilage from the trace amounts of metals that come off food processing machinery.
Glycerol: Maintains moistness.
Invert sugar: Mixture of fructose and dextrose; sweeter than table sugar.
Lecithin: Prevents separation of oil and water.
Mono- and diglycerides, and polysorbate 60: Increase shelf-life of bread. Improve food texture.
Monocalcium phosphate: Used to leaven dough.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG): Enhances food flavor.
Nitrate and nitrite: Prevent microbial growth.
Sodium benzoate: Prevents microbial growth.
Sulfites: Prevent microbial growth and discoloration.
Source: “Eating Smart Additive Guide,” Center for Science in the Public Interest, Washington, D.C.