What is INS 631?
INS 631, also known as Disodium Inosinate, is a naturally found acid mainly present in animals and also certain plants. It is commonly used as a flavour enhancer in various food and beverage products. It is usually white and granular, but also comes in the form of powder. It is most commonly used in noodles, chips, fast food, and other packaged food items. If you ever wondered why you find it hard to resist a pack of chips, the culprit might be just this additive.
Common Uses of INS 631
The main purpose of this food additive is to give the food a meaty or savoury taste which is used alongside other flavour enhancers such as MSG (Monosodium Glutamate). It plays a key role in reducing the amount of salt needed during the production process. Almost all commercially available packaged food items use this food additive combined with other flavour enhancers. Listed below are some specific uses of INS 631 that can be applied to the food item according to the needs of the manufacturer.
- Enhances the flavour
- Maintains flavour overextended period
- Replaces the flavour lost during production
- Masks any undesirable smell or taste
- Gives specific flavour to the food item.
Related reading: All You Need To Know About Acidity Regulators In Food
How is INS 631 manufactured?
As mentioned earlier, Disodium Inosinate is found naturally in animal tissues such as fish, pork, beef, and pork. The inosinic acid is first extracted from animal tissue through a chemical reaction with disodium hydrogen phosphate. The resulting disodium inosinate can be used as a flavour enhanced on a variety of food products. It is worth noting that this variant of a food additive may not be suited to vegans and vegetarians. However, there are vegetarian sources of inosinic acid such as fermented grains and vegetables such as tapioca. It can be produced from the bacterial fermentation of sugar. Also, it can be produced by the degradation of nucleotides into nucleic acid from yeast extracts. So, if you are a vegetarian and you find INS 631 as one of the ingredients of a packaged product, just check for a green dot to be sure that the ingredient is not of animal origin.
How Safe is INS 631?
Very much so. Disodium Inosinate is listed as an authorised food additive by the FFDCA (Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act) and USFDA (United States Food and Drug Association). Given the fact that the product is extracted from organic sources, it can be considered safe for human consumption. The WHO Expert Committee on food additives has also declared is as safe.
However, its intake still needs to be controlled since it has a habit-forming tendency. It is a key part of what makes junk food addictive. Hence, consuming it could indirectly be harmful to your health.
For those with a history of allergies, it is essential to check whether one is allergic to the item or unable to tolerate it for other reasons. As the adage goes; everything that exceeds the bounds of moderation has an unstable foundation.
The same principle applies to all of us when it comes to our eating habits. Also, food products with any additives including INS 631 should not be given to infants below 12 months.
Related reading: All You Need To Know About INS 500ii
Side effects of INS 631
Although this food additive is declared safe by most regulatory bodies across the globe, it does have a few known side effects that can occur in certain users:
- Flushed skin and burning sensation
- Numbness and lack of sensation
- Nausea and dizziness
- Risk of chronic diseases in case of excess consumption
While INS 631 is non-toxic and shows no signs of carcinogenicity or genotoxicity, it has been tested on human subjects before it was declared safe by most health and regulatory bodies. This item is meant to be consumed only in small amounts to avoid any side effects and maintain your health in the long run.
How to store INS 631?
Like any other popular food additive, INS 631 comes in the form of powder which is usually most convenient and effective when used for preparing a food item. As we all know, powder captures moisture from the air which makes it lumpy and loses its potency over time since the powder gets oxidised if it remains exposed to air.
- Use airtight container
- Keep it away from direct sunlight and store it in a cool, shaded area
- Use small batches at a time
- Handle the product with a dry spoon and close it soon after usage
Now that we all know the secret key ingredient that makes junk food so addictive, maybe it’s a good time to consider cutting down on it and controlling our cravings. Granted, the flavour is the most crucial part of any food item and no one ever likes to eat bland, tasteless food. To overcome this challenge, particularly in packaged and fast food, such taste enhancers are used. Even the smallest amounts of this product can impact our health over time. We advise our readers to take this into account and consider their food choices for a healthier and longer life.