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Labelling of additives

This page contains detailed information on the additives used in the canteens of the Studentenwerk Dresden. Our canteens and cafeterias offer a variety of fresh foods which are entirely free of additives alongside processed products.

This information is based on data provided by the manufacturers and suppliers. Due to the manufacturer's high variety of products, cross-contamination can occur. This can result in traces of unlisted ingredients being found in some products. In addition, various food preparation processes taking part in the canteen kitchens at the same time can account for different food components crossing paths, which could also cause cross-contamination during this stage of production. We therefore cannot guarantee that our foods are completely free of other substances not mentioned on the label. The Studentenwerk Dresden assumes no liability for the completeness of the listed ingredients.


  1. contains colorants
  2. contains preservatives
  3. contains antioxidants
  4. contains flavour enhancers
  5. sulphureted
  6. blackened
  7. waxed
  8. contains phosphates
  9. contains artificial sweeteners
  10. contains a source of phenylalanine

None of the listed agents are added on site. Exclusively the different processed and ready-made foods contain the additives that appear on our labels and menus. We are constantly making an effort to select goods that are additive-free, the industry however does not always offer alternatives that are exempt from declaration. Moreover, some products simply must contain certain additives. In these cases we give preference to suppliers (within the framework of compulsory tendering procedure) whose product contains the least amount of additives.

In some foods, certain additives can be very helpful. The following outline explains which effects and functions many of these additives have and why it is often essential to use them.

Additives – indispensable helpers

In the present day, additives are mainly used for the following reasons:

  • to guarantee that the products retain a high hygienic standard up until the moment they are consumed, therefore preventing food poisoning (by adding preservatives),
  • to be able to offer a selection of goods at reasonable prices,
  • to increase shelf life and preserve taste (by using antioxidants),
  • to increase the nutritional value (by adding minerals and nutrients),
  • to change or preserve texture (firmness, spreading properties) (by using emulsifiers and gelling agents),
  • to offer customers a wide range of low-calorie options,
  • to ensure consistent quality,
  • to make storage possible,
  • to provide goods all year round (no seasonal dependance).

Additives: safe and essential

Although safety is a key criteria, simply being safe to use is not quite enough for an additive to be introduced to the market. Its technological necessity must also be established. If not, it will not be approved, even if it is entirely safe to use. New substances are only approved when it can be demonstrated that this additive is safe to use and necessary at the same time. In addition, the consumer cannot be misled with regard to the use of additives. Much less are manufacturers permitted to use additives to disguise flawed processing or poor quality of the commodity.

Information on the additives that can be found in our foods:

Colorants and blackened items

Colorants are used to give foods a better appearance. They may not exaggerate the colour to the extent that the food becomes brighter, blacker or more colourful than in its natural fresh state. As the consumer may not be misled, the packaging or menu label must contain the words coloured, dyed or blackened (ger. gefärbt/geschwärzt) in a clearly recognizable and easily readable way.

To illustrate: If a sheep's cheese salad contains black olives, this must be indicated. Black olives are dyed with Iron(II) gluconate or Iron(II) lactate in order to imitate the deep black colour of a ripe olive. The consumer must be made aware of this, hence the jar, package or menu label must contain the term blackened (Ger. “geschwärzt“).

There are three different types of colorants: natural, nature-identical and artificial colorants. Many of the foods we prepare in the cafeterias contain carotenoids, a substance found in carrots. The human body converts this natural colorant into vitamin A. Consequently several natural or nature-identical colorants such as carotenoids are even beneficial to your health, contrary to common belief.


These substances are added to foods in order to slow or prevent microbial decay through bacteria, fungi or yeast. Some are only used for surface preservation, as is the case with fruit. The pores of the fruit's skin are sealed, preventing fungi from entering. Others are added to the food during the manufacturing process to prevent it from moulding, as is the case with some packaged breads. The presence of preservatives is marked by the indication contains preservatives (ger. “MIT Counter-offensives”) on the packaging or the menu labels. The most popular form of preservation is to cure foods. Curing meats with nitrite brine is the most effective way to prevent meat spoilage. Nitrine brine is essential, as merely heating the meat will not destroy the strongest biological toxin of the clostridium bacteria, the botulin toxin.


Antioxidants counteract or slow down oxidation processes, so foods can't be spoiled by simple atmospheric oxygen. This can have a positive effect on vitamins susceptible to decomposition, as well as delay or inhibit the process of fats becoming rancid. The latter in particular is considered one of the main functions of antioxidant substances, which explains why they are often found in a range of fatty foods, such as packaged soups and cooking fats.

Flavour enhancers

Flavour enhancers intensify the accents of certain flavours that that might have slightly faded during processing. They are most often found in products that have been dehydrated or preserved by freezing or extreme heating, such as packaged soups or dry broths. Instant meals and so-called convenience-products also contain these flavour enhancing agents. These products are to be marked by the indication contains flavour enhancers (Ger. “mit Konservierungsstoffen”).


This versatile substance is not only used to clean out wine barrels, but is also used to preserve food items by killing off bacteria and mould. (Label indication: sulphourised - Ger. “geschwefelt” )


Coating agents are used to prevent firm food items such as fruits or whole cheeses from drying out, while spoilage is delayed and the aroma and quality can be maintained for a longer amount of time. This is done by emulsifying or warming different waxes and resins, which are then sprayed onto the surface of the item, creating a firm and elastic film across the item's surface. Alternatively, the food item can be dipped into the emulsion instead of the waxes being sprayed onto the surface. The food must then be labeled as waxed (Ger. “gewachst”). Fruit that has been thoroughly washed does not have to carry this label, as this process removes the film.


Phosphates are essential components of our organism that are needed for the construction of DNA. Therefore they can be found naturally in practically all food items. High-protein foods such as milk, meat, fish and eggs contain the largest the largest doses. The food industry uses polyphosphates as an additive. This substance can act as a water-softener, a smelting salt for processed cheeses or can be used for making scalded sausages, surimi or fish sticks. Beverages containing cola also show high phosphate levels. In our menus, these products are labeled with the indication contains phosphate (Ger. “mit Phosphat”).

Artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners (sweeteners and sugar substitutes, with the exception of fructose ) are used in foods that are expected to taste sweet, but are not supposed to contain sugar. In most cases, this refers to low-calorie food items. Such products are then labelled with the indication contains artificial sweeteners (Ger. “mit Süßungsmitteln”).


Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid for the human metabolism. Provided that sufficient doses are available, this substance can be converted to tyrosine in the liver. The recommended daily dose for adults is 14 mg per kg of bodyweight. This amount is usually covered by the food we consume every day. Phenylalanine is vital for the synthesis of adrenaline, noradrenaline and other hormones. It also acts as an important metabolism reagent for many other substances, including the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin and tyramine.

Persons afflicted with phenylketonuria (PKU) are not able to convert the phenylalanine amino acid into tyrosine. The label contains a source of phenylalanine primarily serves as an indication for this particular group of people.

Further information on ingredients that can be found in our food

  1. 22 with pork (except for information relating gelatin pork in desserts, cakes and pies)
  2. 23 with beef
  3. 24 Alcohol
  4. 27 Garlic
  5. Meat-free

Beef and por

The presence of these meats is indicated by their respective symbols online. Meal descriptions on the canteen monitors include this information in written form (contains pork/beef - Ger. “enthält schweinefleisch/ rindfleisch”). Gelatine (derived mainly from pig hides) is not labeled with this information. It is mainly used in cakes, tarts and other desserts.


Foods containing alcohol are pointed out by the wineglass symbol or the written indication contains alcohol (Ger. “enthält Alkohol”).


In order to prevent unexpected surprises, items containing garlic are either labeled with a symbol or the indication contains garlic (Ger. “enthält Knoblauch”).


All vegetarian items are labeled with a carrot symbol.