Oxidation is a chain reaction where free radicals are formed, and oxidation is accelerated by presence of metal ions. Antioxidants mode of action is based on removal of oxygen or scavenging free radicals and metal ions.
Antioxidants which are used to protect the properties of the food product are:
- Ascorbic acid: Also known as vitamin C, ascorbic acid occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables. Ascorbic acid is used as an antioxidant in a wide range of products.
- Tocopherols: Tocopherols are a group of fat-soluble antioxidants and can be found in vegetable oils. Alpha tocopherol is also known as vitamin E. Delta and gamma tocopherol are effective antioxidants to protect food.
- BHT and BHA: Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and butylated hydroxy anisole (BHA) are commonly used synthetic antioxidants.
Rosemary extracts are the most well-known antioxidants among the plant extracts.