The Secret Ingredient is Xanthan Gum, or Maybe Acesulfame Potassium

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A grocery store display.

Processed foods tend to have long lists of ingredients that add flavor, color and texture, along with preservatives to extend shelf life. On today's Please Explain, we'll take a close look at the most common food additives, from xanthan gum to MSG. Photographer Dwight Eschliman and author Steve Ettlinger created a detailed visual guide in Ingredients: A Visual Exploration of 75 Additives and 25 Food Products, and they'll help take the mystery out of the ingredients list. Charles Mueller, clinical associate professor of nutrition at NYU Steinhardt, will discuss the health effects of the common additives. 

Do you have questions about food additives? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!