Posted: 18 November 2011 15:36 Quote
Anticaking Agents:
Anticaking Agent is the food additive that prevents agglomeration in certain solids, permitting a free-flowing condition. Anticaking agents consist of such substances as starch, magnesium carbonate, and silica and are added to fine-particle solids, such as food products like table salt, flours, coffee, and sugar.
What was the need to invent anti caking agents?
According to a well known saying “necessity is mother of invention”.Caking was the problem which made an urge for invention of anti caking agents.
Caking is a phenomenon in which  lump formation in a powdered product occurs, usually after exposure to high temperature and can occur in silos,big bags and even in small packages. In addition  to lump formation and flowability reduction,caking may also lead to poor rehydration and dispersibility of products ,increase in lipid oxidation,loss of flavor and crispiness,deterioration of organoleptic  quality and shelf life,and hence reduction of pocess efficiency and yield.
There is common agreement that a lumped product is considered to have poor quality and safety,it will appeal to the customers.
As a precautionary measures anti caking agents are added to hygroscopic  powdered food products to improve their flow ability /inhibit caking.Anti-caking agents are defined as substances added to finely powdered or crystalline food powders to prevent caking,lumping, or aggregation by  improving their flow ability .These are also known as flow conditioners or free-flow agents.
Anticaking agents are food additives that keep powders or granulated materials such as milk powder, powdered sugar, tea and coffee powders used in vending machines, table salt etc. flowing freely. Anti caking agents, in fact, prevent the formation of lumps making these products manageable for packaging, transport, and for use by end consumer.
USES of Anticaking Agents:
Anticaking agents function either by adsorbing excess moisture, or by coating particles and making them water repellent. Some anticaking agents are soluble in water; others are soluble in alcohols or other organic solvents. Calcium silicate (CaSiO3), a common anti-caking agent which is added to table salt etc. adsorbs both water and oil. Although they are food additives, anti caking agents have other applications too. For example, anticaking agents are popularly used in non-food items like road salt, fertilizers, cosmetics, synthetic detergents, and in other such manufacturing applications.
Some requirements and limits are applied to use of anti-caking agents used in powdered foods .
First,anti-caking agents must be inert,Safe in specified amounts,and classified as “Generally Recognized as Safe “ (GRAS).
Second,must be effective at low concentrations , as their permitted concentration is limited to a restricted  (FDA , 1980), which in practice is 1% or less.
Anti-caking agents perform their function:
By Competing with host powder for moisture: Anti-caking agents have strong water adsorptive ability so that they can compete with host powdered food product  particles for available water thus, reducing the hygroscopicity and consequently its tendency to cake. Anticaking agents function either by adsorbing excess moisture, or by coating particles and making them water repellent.
Examples of Anti Caking Agents Food:
Some of the common examples of foods that contain anti-caking agents include:
•  Coffee, cocoa, soup mixes
•  Milk and cream powders
•  Grated cheese
•  Icing sugar
•  Baking powder
•  Cake mixes
•  Drinking chocolate
•  Table salt
•  Anti caking agents are also one of the most common flour treatment agents
•  Powdered spices
Based on the above information on anti caking agents, it can be stated that they are becoming more and more popular with processed food packaging that might let moisture in and form lumps. These anticaking agents keep the food item flowing freely till the time end user want it to be.
What would happen without anti-caking agents?
Powders can form clumps because the particles become sticky when they absorb water. Lumpy powders do not flow evenly. Some powders, such as grated cheese for pizza toppings, can stick together and this again prevents them from being spread evenly. Anti-caking agents modify the contact between the powder's particles and are added to prevent these problems.
Without anti-caking agents, vending machine powders such as coffee or chocolate would not flow regularly. They could block the various tubes in the vending machine and the taste of the drinks would not be consistent enough. Powdered milk can clump together during processing, packing and storage. Sugar absorbs water and incorporating a free-flow aid before grinding prevents it sticking to the processing equipment.
Majority of anti-caking agents are found with E numbers from 500 to 599. However, apart from the list of E numbers anti-caking agents, there are a few that fall into other categories too like the acidity regulators (because they serve two purposes.)
Some of such anti caking agents having dual/ multiple purposes include:
•  E421 -Mannitol as it is also a texturising agent, a sweetening agent, and anti-sticking agent as well as a humectant.
•  E460a - Microcrystalline cellulose as is also a bulking agent, binder and stabiliser.
•  E460b - Alpha cellulose as it is also a bulking agent, binder and stabiliser.
a.  E504 Magnesium carbonate  Mineral salt, anti-cakingMedically used as an antacid and laxative. Magnesium is used in the treatment of heart attack patients, and promotes the health of arteries, bones, nerves and teeth
b.  E535 Sodium ferrocyanidePrepared from hydrogen ferrocyanide and sodium hydroxide. Crystal modifier, anti-caking agent. No adverse effects known for use in food. Use is very limited, partly due to the strong yellow colour.
a.  E514 Sodium sulphates: Prepared from salt and sulphuric acid. Mineral salt, anti-caking agent for diluting colour powders in beer, biscuits, chewing gum, confectionary. May upset the body's water balance.
b.  E515 Potassium sulphates: Mineral salt, anti-caking agent for beer, pharmaceuticals, salt substitute. No known adverse effects, but large doses can cause severe gastrointestinal bleeding, use sparingly.
c.  E519 Copper sulphate: Mineral salt, anti-caking agent which is manufactured but occurs naturally and used for making azo dyes. Fed to pigs to stimulate growth. A cumulative poison. Essential mineral for many body functions such as making blood and tissues to fighting infections.  Naturally in meat, cereals, vegetables.  Used in infant formula as a mineral supplement. NOT TO BE TAKEN ON ITS OWN.
d.  E530 Magnesium oxide: Prepared from several minerals. Alkali, neutraliser and anti-caking agent.  It can be found in frozen dairy products, butter, canned peas, cocoa products, medications. Used as a medical laxative in high concentrations. Banned in Australia. Avoid it.
e.  E536 Potassium ferrocyanide: Prepared from hydrogen ferrocyanide and potassium hydroxide. Synthetic crystallising agent. Metal removal in wine, anti-caking agent, seasonings, spices. By-product of coal gas production; low toxicity, reduces oxygen transport in the blood, which in turn may cause breathing difficulties, dizziness or headache.  Banned in the United States.
f.  E542 Bone phosphate: Edible bone phosphate Derived from steaming animal bones. Used as anti-caking agent, emulsifier and source of phosphorous in food supplements. Main use, however, is in cosmetics (such as tooth paste) Used in dried milk for coffee machines, cane sugar, and as filler in tablets. Cannot be used by vegetarians, Muslims, Jews or Hindus. The product is made of animal bones, such as from pigs and cattle.
g.  E553 Magnesium silicates: (i) Magnesium silicate
                                           (ii) Magnesium trisilicate
Produced from magnesium sulphate and sodium silicate or directly from minerals such as talcum, sepiolite and steatite Antacid, glaze, polish, release, anti-caking, dusting, coating agent. Avoid it. Banned in Australia.
h.  E554 Sodium aluminium silicate: Produced from several natural minerals. Mineral salt, anti-caking agent. Used in salt, dried milk substitutes, egg mixes, sugar products and flours,has been linked to Alzheimer's Parkinson's, bone loss.