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Worth knowing - Additives requiring labelling

The term „additives“ covers a large number of substances that are added to foods in order to modify their properties in any way. This may concern, for example, the shelf life, taste, appearance or processability of the product. The additives therefore have a technological purpose in the food. They may be of natural or synthetic origin and must first be approved for use in foodstuffs in Germany. This only happens if the application is safe and at the same time a technological necessity can be justified. In the case of some of the additive groups, labelling is also mandatory for unwrapped food.

As many fresh, unprocessed products as possible without additives are used in the refectories and cafeterias of the Studierendenwerk Kassel. For some products, however, it is not possible to obtain additive-free alternatives from the trade. Here the additives can also have a positive effect.

However, we never add additives directly to our food.

Below is a brief explanation of the additive groups that we label.

  • With colorants (1)

Colorants are added to foods to restore or maintain their natural color. The colorants group includes a large number of substances. A distinction is made between natural, nature-identical and artificial colorants. The foodstuffs used in the Studierendenwerk mainly contain natural colorants such as carotenoids, anthocyanins or capsanthin. These substances derived from plants are, for example, precursors of vitamins or antioxidants and thus have a positive effect on health.

  • With preservatives (2)

Preservatives increase the shelf life of food by inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria, moulds and other microorganisms. This ensures that the food remains hygienic until you eat it.

The preservatives work in many different ways. For example, acetic acid lowers the pH value of food to a level where bacteria can no longer multiply. Nitrite curing salt prevents the growth of toxin-forming bacteria in meat. These mechanisms have been used to preserve meat for a very long time and protect against health damage caused by microorganisms.

  • With antioxidant (3)

Antioxidants counteract food spoilage by oxygen and thus complement the action of preservatives, which act against microorganisms. Reactions with oxygen, so-called oxidations, have the consequence that, for example, vitamins are broken down or fat becomes rancid in the food. The use of antioxidants prevents oxygen-induced odour, taste and colour changes and increases the shelf life of food. The Studierendenwerk Kassel uses products to which natural antioxidants such as ascorbic acid have been added.

  • With flavor enhancer (4)

This additive group is intended to enhance the taste or smell of foods or to restore it in the case of heavily processed foods. They are often used in ready meals, soup and sauce powders. Since we are of the opinion that Mensa food is delicious even without flavour enhancers, we do not use them as much as possible.

  • Sulfurized (5)

The use of sulphur in food processing serves the purpose of preservation. This versatile substance kills bacteria and microorganisms. Sulphur is used as a preservation method mainly for wine, vinegar and dried fruit. However, labelling is only necessary for contents of 10 mg/kg or 10 ml/L sulphur. This limit value is almost never exceeded in the food of our refectories.

  • Blackened (6)

The marking 'blackened' is only used on black olives. The substances iron-II-lactate and iron-II-gluconate, which produce the deep black colour of a ripe olive, are used for this purpose.

  • Waxed (7)

Waxed foods were coated with a thin layer of wax or other coating agents such as resins. As this prevents the release of water and aromas from the food, dehydration is delayed and the quality of the food is maintained. This process is mainly used for fruits and cheese loaves. However, "waxed" labelling is only required for fruit such as apples, pears, melons and citrus fruits.

  •  With phosphate (8)

The group of phosphates is naturally present in almost all foods and they are also vital components of the human organism. Phosphates are also widely used in food processing. The foodstuffs marked "with phosphate" in the Studierendenwerk Kassel are all pre-processed meat products such as ham and sausages. Here, phosphate serves to improve the processability of animal products.

  • With sweeteners / With one type of sugar and sweeteners (9/9a)

These are foodstuffs to which sweeteners or a combination of sweeteners and one or more sugars have been added. Sugars include, for example, sucrose, the commonly used household sugar; fructose, the fruit sugar obtained from plants; or lactose, which is naturally present in milk. Sweeteners are an umbrella term for sweeteners and sugar substitutes. Sweeteners cannot be metabolized by the body and leave it unchanged. Sugar substitutes, on the other hand, are absorbed by the body but have a lower calorie content than sugars.

This is also the purpose of the use of sweeteners: They are supposed to give the food a sweet taste without adding calories to it.

  • With a source of phenylalanine (10)

Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid and a component of certain sweeteners. These are mainly added to light drinks or lemonades.

Allergens requiring labelling

Since 13.12.2014, with the EU Regulation No. 1169/2011 coming into force, the Studierendenwerk Kassel, labels the 14 main allergens, i.e. those that most frequently trigger allergies.

These are:

  • Gluten-containing cereals* (30)
  • Crustaceans* (31)
  • Eggs* (32)
  • Fish* (33)
  • Peanuts* (34)
  • Soy* (35)
  • Milk (lactose)* (36)
  • Nuts (nuts)* (37)
  • Celery* (38)
  • Mustard* (39)
  • Sesame* (40)
  • Sulphite/sulphur dioxide (41)
  • Lupine* (42)
  • Molluscs* (43)


* and products thereof


Food allergies are not aversions to food, but real illnesses. We take the needs of our guests with allergies seriously and hope to be able to help them choose the right food by labelling them.

Labelling also benefits vegan people - they can now see which foods contain eggs or dairy products.

We label allergens very carefully, but we are dependent on the product and content information of the manufacturers of the food used.

We have also decided not to label the manufacturer's information on "traces". The term "trace" refers to a possible content of very small quantities of allergenic foods that may unintentionally enter products. This can happen, for example, if hazelnuts are also processed in a chocolate production plant and they pass through the same machines one after the other. The possible content of allergens is so low that in most cases it has no effect.

In addition, cross-contamination and technologically unavoidable mixing of individual products cannot be completely avoided due to the conditions in canteen kitchens such as our refectories. The Studierendenwerk Kassel therefore accepts no liability for the completeness of the listed ingredients.

Other Labels


  • (F) vegetarian
  • (V) Vegan
  • (mv) mensaVital
  • (Ö) Ecological, DE-ÖKO-039
  • (S) Pork meat or parts thereof
  • (R) Beef or beef proportions
  • (A) With alcohol
  • (Gr) Beef gelatine
  • (Gs) Pork gelatine
  • (Kn) Garlic
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