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Kitchen Notes

Additives

by Michael Chu
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Whenever I shop for food, I look at the ingredients listing to see what went into it. It started off as just a simple fascination with what factories use to make foods, but now I'm looking to see if partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (an indicator of the presence of trans fatty acids) are in the food (as well as other "unnatural" substances). I have a tendency to shy away from foods that have ingredients that I cannot recognize - but what are these weird ingredients and what do they do? What are they doing in my food (especially since I don't have them in my pantry and don't use them in my home cooked meals)? Here's a list that I've been slowly compiling of food additives.

Also, only common side effects are listed without consideration for personal allergies.

NameDescription / Side Effect / Common Uses
Acesulfame-K (acesulfame potassium; Sunette)Description: Artificial sweetener used to produce low-calorie foods.
Side Effects: Early laboratory testing suggests the possibility that acesulfame-K is carginogenic. A breakdown product of acesulfame-K, acetoacetamide, is linked to thyroid problems in rats, rabbits, and dogs. It is unclear
Algen / AlginateDescription: A compound extracted from algae/seaweed that makes foods creamier and thicker, and extends shelf life.
Side Effects: None
Common Uses: Puddings, milkshakes, ice cream
Ammonium bicarbonateDescription: A leavening agent that is a precursor of modern baking soda.
Side Effects: No known human side effects.
Common Uses: Also called hartshorn, carbonate of ammonia, powdered baking ammonia, or ammonia powder. Quick breads and cookies.
AnnattoDescription: A seed extract of an orange hue often used as a colorant.
Common Uses: dairy products, popcorn oil, butter mixes, baked goods, icings, snacks, ice cream, salad dressing, yogurts
Aspartame Description: Chemical compound made of methanol, aspartic acid and phenylalanine used as a low-calorie sweetener
Side Effects: Some people are allergic to aspartame. Migraine headaches is a common reaction in these people but some report dizziness and hallucinations.
Common Uses: Beverages, puddings, yogurt, chewing gum, and sold as Nutrasweet, Spoonful and Equal
AzodicarbonamideDescription: An aging and bleaching agent used in the preparation of flours. Seldom used
Side Effects: Due to low usage, very little information on toxocology and side effects is known
Common Uses: Wheat flour, breads
Beet powderDescription: A colorant extracted from beets of a purple hue.
Common Uses: ice cream, cake icings, mixes, yogurt, gelatin desserts, fruit chews, frozen products, chewable tablets
Beta-caroteneDescription: A compound obtained from carrots of an orange hue. Sometimes used as a colorant.
Common Uses: margarine, non-dairy creamers
Blue #1 (Brilliant Blue)Description: An artificial (synthetic) food dye of bright blue hue derived from petroleum distillates.
Side Effects: Inadequately tested. Current studies suggest a small cancer risk.
Common Uses: Beverages, powders, jellies, confections, condiments, icings, syrups, extracts
Blue #2 (Indigotine)Description: An artificial (synthetic) food dye of royal blue hue derived from petroleum distillates.
Side Effects: No conclusive studies. Suspected of causing brain tumors in animals.
Common Uses: Baked goods, cereals, snack foods, ice cream, confections, cherries
Brominated vegetable oil (BVO)Description: Acts as an emulsifier (helps keep oils in suspension).
Side Effects: Small residues of BVO are left in human body fat. The effect of these residues is unknown.
Common Uses: Keeping flavored oils in suspension. Citrus-flavored soft drinks.
Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) Description: A phenolic chemical compound with preservative properties. Keeps food from going rancid; also used as a defoaming agent for yeast
Side Effects: Inconclusive; in large doses may cause tumors in lab animals
Common Uses: Foods high in fats and oils such as butter; also meats, cereals, baked goods, beer, snack foods, dehydrated potatoes, chewing gum
Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) Description: A phenolic chemical compound that acts as a preservative. Keeps food from changing flavor, odor, and color.
Side Effects: Inconclusive, in large doses may cause tumors in lab animals
Common Uses: Cereals, shortening, foods high in fats and oils
CaffeineDescription: A mildly addictive stimulant naturally occurring in coffee, tea, and cocoa. One of two drugs commonly used in foods (caffiene and quinine).
Side Effects: Increases teh risk of miscarriages, birth defects, and inhibits fetal growth in pregnant women. Decreases the chance of pregnancy. Affects calcium metabolism and may lead to a risk of osteoporosis. Withdrawal symptoms may include headaches, irritability, sleepiness, and lethargy.
Common Uses: Coffee, tea, chocolate, cocoa, ice cream, soft drinks, gum, and specialty water.
Calcium Carbonate Description: Compound containing the nutrient calcium. Emulsifier, bleaching agent, and dietary supplement.
Side Effects: No negative effects as a food additive
Common Uses: Some bakery products, frozen desserts, and flour
Calcium caseinateDescription: A milk protein extracted from skim milk through acid percipitation. Used to fortify foods with additional protein, as an emulsifier (helps keep fat suspended in water), as a plasticizer (e.g. softening processed cheeses), as a binder in processed meats, to clarify wines, and as a colorant (milky white).
Side Effects: None. People with diary allergies should avoid.
Common Uses: Ice cream, milk shakes, processed cheese, processed meats
Calcium disodium EDTADescription: Calcium Disodium Ethylenediaminetetraacetate is a salt used as a presevative
Side Effects: No negative effects as a food additive.
Common Uses: Soft drinks, mayonnaise
Calcium stearateDescription: A synthetic compound produced by dry fusing palm derived stearic acid reacted with calcium oxide. Used as a dough softener, an anticaking, and flow agent. Sometimes used as an emulsifier and thickening agent.
Side Effects: Generally regarded as safe.
Common Uses: Baking mixes, seasonings, soft candies.
Caramel colorDescription: A colorant obtained from roasted sugar of brown to red hue.
Common Uses: dairy foods, drinks, colas, iced tea, cocoa, beer, coffee, icings, cereals, popcorn, gravies, sauces, candies
Carmine (carminic acid)Description: A food dye extracted from the shells of a specific dried female insect (Dactylopius coccus costa) of a deep magenta-red hue. As a colorant, it is stable across a broad range of temperature, light, and shelf life.
Side Effects: None
Common Uses: Puddings, milkshakes, cake icings, hard candy, bakery products, yogurt, ice cream, gelatin desserts, fruit syrups, pet foods, jams/preserves
Carnauba waxDescription: A substance obtained from the leaves and buds of Copernica Cerifera (a Brazilian plant, also known as the wax palm).
Side Effects: None
Common Uses: Used as a formulation aid, lubricant, release agent, and surface finishing agent in baked foods and mixes, chewing gum, confections, frostings, fresh fruits and juices, gravies, sauces, processed fruits and juices and soft candy.
Carrageenan Description: Compound extracted from Irish Moss, a type of seaweed. Makes foods gel and stabilizes foods to keep color and flavor even. Also used as a clarifying agent.
Side Effects: Large amounts of carrageenan have harmed test animals' colons; the small amounts in food are safe. In some people, carrageenan may cause stomach discomfort. Degraded (low molecular weight) carrageenan is not food safe and is suspected to be carcinogenic.
Common Uses: Puddings, milkshakes, ice cream, alcoholic beverages.
Carrot oilDescription: Oil extracted from carrots of an orange hue. Sometimes used as a colorant.
Citric Acid Description: An acid which occurs naturally in fruits such as lemons and limes. Flavoring and neutralizing agent (keeps food at proper acidity)
Side Effects: None
Common Uses: Canned fruit juices, cheese, margarine, salad dressings, soft drinks
Folic Acid Description: B-complex vitamin. Dietary supplement, helps prevent heart disease. Women with ample folic acid in their diets prior to pregnancy can help prevent major birth defects of their baby's brain and spine.
Side Effects: None
Common Uses: Breakfast cereals, enriched breads, flour, corn meal, rice, noodles, macaroni and other grain products
Fumaric Acid Description: Chemical produced when humans digest carbohydrates; As an additive, fumaric acid is synthetically manufactured to control acidity/alkalinity in foods and also used as a dietary supplement
Side Effects: None
Common Uses: Fruit jellies and preserves
Glycerin Description: A syrupy alcohol derived from sugar used to maintain desired food consistency
Side Effects: None
Common Uses: Food flavorings
Green #3 (Fast Green)Description: An artificial (synthetic) food dye of sea green hue derived from petroleum distillates.
Side Effects: ?
Common Uses: Beverages, puddings, ice cream, sherbet, cherries, baked goods, dairy products
Guar Gum Description: Substance made from seeds of the guar plant, a legume grown in India Stabilizer
Side Effects: None
Common Uses: Cheese, including processed cheese, ice cream, jelly and preserves, and dressings
High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)Description: Corn syrup modified by enzymes to increase fructose to glucose ratio (about 55% fructose). Similar sweetness as sucrose (cane/beet sugar) but less expensive to produce.
Side Effects: May interfere with use of magnesium, copper, and chromium. Also, HFCS has been implicated in the development of adult-onset diabetes.
Common Uses: Soft drinks and processed foods.
InulinDescription: A naturally occurring dietary fiber. Inulin is not digested by the human body, but is a good nutrient source for many bacteria in the digestive tract. Added to foods to promote the growth of "good" bacteria - but may also serve as a fuel for unfriendly bacteria and yeasts.
Side Effects: May cause flatulence, bloating, abdominal pain and cramps, and sometimes diarrhea. May exacerbate allergies.
Common Uses: "Health" foods
Iron Description: A metal necessary in the diet Dietary supplement
Side Effects: None as a food additive *
Common Uses: Breakfast cereals, enriched breads
Lactic Acid Description: A bitter-tasting substance obtained from sour milk Neutralizing agent, flavoring
Side Effects: None
Common Uses: Bakery products, cheese, frozen desserts, fruit butters, jellies and preserves
Lecithin Description: An emulsifying agent (keeps oil from separting from water) found naturally in animal and plant tissues. Also retards rancidity and adds fluffiness to baked goods. Common sources are egg yolk and soybeans.
Side Effects: None
Common Uses: Cacao bean products such as cocoa butter and chocolate, baked goods, ice cream, margarine and cheese products
MaltodextrinDescription: A carbohydrate of minimal sweetness usually produced from corn starch. Often used to create additional mass to a food substance (as in confections) without altering flavor. Also added to nutritional beverages to increase caloric content.
Side Effects: Generally regarded as safe
Common Uses: Confectionery, desserts, nutritional beverages.
Methylcellulose Description: A number of gummy substances, produced through reaction between cellulose and methyls Keeps food products from separating
Side Effects: None
Common Uses: Fruit butters, jellies
Mono- and Diglycerides Description: Emulsifying agents, may be derived from soybean fat Keeps food products from separating
Side Effects: None
Common Uses: Shortening, margarine, cacao products, bakery products
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) Description: A salt of the amino acid glutamic acid Flavor enhancer
Side Effects: Generally recognized as safe; however, those on low-sodium diets should avoid it. Negative side effects also appear in some people when eaten in large amounts, and in some asthmatics.
Common Uses: Canned vegetables, canned tuna, dressings, many frozen foods
PaprikaDescription: A seasoning composed of powdered dry chiles of red-orange hue. Also often used as a colorant.
Common Uses: sausage, cheese sauces, gravies, condiments, salad dressings, baked goods, snacks, icings, cereals
Pectin Description: A water-soluble substance present in various ripe fruits and vegetables Making foods jell, also to keep foods from separating
Side Effects: None
Common Uses: Canned fruit, fruit butters, jellies and preserves , alcoholic beverages
Phosphoric Acid Description: A substance created by exposing phosphorous to oxygen. Used as an acidifying agent (as in soft drinks) and as an emulsifier.
Side Effects: None
Common Uses: Acidified skim milk, cheese, soft drinks
Potassium benzoateDescription: A tasteless anti-microbial preservative.
Side Effects: Generally regarded as safe.
Common Uses: Soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, fruit preserves
Potassium Bisulfite Description: Type of sulfite Preventing fruit discoloration, inhibiting bacterial growth in wine
Side Effects: Some humans allergic to sulfites; in U.S., FDA prohibits their use on raw fruits and vegetables
Common Uses: Wine, dried apples, dehydrated potatoes
Potassium Metabisulfite Description: Type of sulfite Preventing fruit discoloration, inhibiting bacterial growth in wine
Side Effects: Some humans allergic to sulfites; in U.S., FDA prohibits their use on raw fruits and vegetables
Common Uses: Wine, dried apples, dehydrated potatoes
Potassium Nitrite Description: One of a number of nitrites used with salt to prevent food from spoiling Preservative
Side Effects: None known
Common Uses: Cured red meat and poultry products
Potassium sorbateDescription: The potassium salt of sorbic acid that inhibits mold, yeast, and fungal growth.
Side Effects: No negative effects as a food additive
Common Uses: Cheese, wine, baked goods.
Propionic Acid Description: A type of bacteria found naturally in the production of cheese; also made synthetically Mold inhibitor, preservative
Side Effects: None
Common Uses: Cheese, bread
Propylene glycolDescription: A chemical derived from natural gas that, along with sodium stearate, forms a gel base from which food products may be made (like non-fat ice cream).
Side Effects: Generally regarded as safe. (Many internet claims that propylene glycol is a solvent and used for deicing and antifreeze - yes, but water is the most widely used solvent and alcohol is a very common antifreeze...)
Common Uses: Non-fat ice cream.
QuinineDescription: A naturally occurring drug extracted from the bark of Cinchona trees used primarily (in food) as a flavorant. In large doses, quinine is an effective medication for malaria, digestive problems, heart palpitations, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, and leg cramps. In extremely large doses, it is poisonous.
Side Effects: No negative effects as a food additive. In huge quantities (e.g. more than 12 quarts of tonic water in a day), quinine may cause rashes, itching, nausea, ringing of the ears, dizziness, headaches, birth defects, and even death (probably closer to 25 quarts to be fatal).
Common Uses: Tonic water
Red #3 (Erthrosine)Description: An artificial (synthetic) food dye of cherry-red hue derived from petroleum distillates.
Side Effects: ?
Common Uses: Canned Cherries, confections, baked goods, dairy products, snack foods
Red #40 (Allura Red)Description: An artificial (synthetic) food dye of orange-red hue derived from petroleum distillates.
Side Effects: Anecdotal evidence suggests Red #40 may increase the risk of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Common Uses: Gelatins, puddings, dairy products, confections, beverages, condiments
Saccharin Description: Non-nutritive water-soluble sugar substitute / sweetener
Side Effects: Early scientific studies showed saccharin to cause cancer in laboratory animals, but most long-term animal studies have found no cancer-causing effects from saccharin consumption.
Common Uses: Sold as Sweet'N Low. Fruit juice drinks, carbonated beverages, canned fruits, fruit butters, jellies, preservatives, and in sugar substitutes for cooking, table use
Sodium Aluminosilicate Description: A naturally-occurring mineral Keeps food from caking and clumping up
Side Effects: None
Common Uses: Dried whole eggs and egg yolks, grated cheeses
Sodium Benzoate Description: A granular salt Preservative
Side Effects: None
Common Uses: Soft drinks, packaged beverages, fruit preserves and jellies, concentrated orange juice, margarine, fast-food burgers
Sodium Bicarbonate Description: A crystalline salt; also known as baking soda Leavening agent, also maintains acid balance in canned products
Side Effects: Significant source of sodium; those on low-sodium diets should avoid consuming large quantities
Common Uses: Baked goods, canned vegetables, cereal flours
Sodium Bisulfite Description: Type of sulfite Preventing fruit discoloration, inhibiting bacterial growth in wine
Side Effects: Some humans allergic to sulfites; in U.S., FDA prohibits their use on raw fruits and vegetables
Common Uses: Bottled lemon juice, wine, dried apples, dehydrated potatoes
Sodium caseinateDescription: A milk protein produced by reacting casein with sodium hydroxide. Used to fortify foods with additional protein, as an emulsifier (helps keep fat suspended in water), as a plasticizer (e.g. softening processed cheeses), as a binder in processed meats, to clarify wines, and as a colorant (milky white).
Side Effects: None. People with diary allergies should avoid.
Common Uses: Ice cream, milk shakes, processed cheese, processed meats
Sodium erythorbateDescription: A stereoisomer of sodium ascorbate used for controlling discoloration and flavor change.
Side Effects: None
Common Uses: Soft drinks, juice, wine
Sodium ferrocyanideDescription: An anticaking agent commonly found in salts. Also known as yellow prussiate of soda.
Side Effects: No negative effects as a food additive.
Common Uses: Salt, garlic and onion powder
Sodium Metabisulfite Description: Type of sulfite Preventing fruit discoloration, inhibiting bacterial growth in wine
Side Effects: Some humans allergic to sulfites; in U.S., FDA prohibits their use on raw fruits and vegetables
Common Uses: Wine, dried apples, dehydrated potatoes
Sodium Nitrate Description: A salt used in the curing and preservation of meats.
Side Effects: Generally considered harmless, but is readily converted to nitrites which can combine with chemicals in stomach to form nitrosamine, a highly carcinogenic substance
Common Uses: Smoked or cured meats.
Sodium Nitrite Description: A salt used in the preservation (prevents botulism) of meats
Side Effects: Can combine with chemicals in stomach to form nitrosamine, a highly carcinogenic substance
Common Uses: Smoked or cured fish, including salmon, and in meat-curing preparations
Sodium Sulfite Description: Type of sulfite Preventing fruit discoloration
Side Effects: Some humans allergic to sulfites; in U.S., FDA prohibits their use on raw fruits and vegetables
Common Uses: Wine, dried apples, dehydrated potatoes
SorbitolDescription: A sugar alcohol that is not digested normally by the human body. Sorbitol is broken down by microbes in the large intestine and the resulting molecules are absorbed resulting in a net gain of about 2.6 calories per gram. Due to this convoluted process of digestion, sorbitol has little effect on blood sugar levels.
Side Effects: Safe for consumption. May result in flatulence and laxative effects when consumed in large quantities.
Common Uses: Sugar-free foods (sorbitol does not promote tooth decay)
SucraloseDescription: A water solube, temperature-stable sweetener derived from sucrose. Sucralose is not absorbed byt he digestive tract, so it has no effective calories. Sucralose also does not raise blood sugar levels.
Side Effects: Current studies have shown no known side effects.
Common Uses: Sold as Splenda. Baked goods, soft drinks.
Sulfur Dioxide Description: Type of sulfite Preventing fruit discoloration, inhibiting bacterial growth in wine and on grapes
Side Effects: Some humans allergic to sulfites; in U.S., FDA prohibits its use on raw fruits and vegetables
Common Uses: Wine, dried apples, dehydrated potatoes
TaurineDescription: A substance found in meat made from the metabolism of a particular amino acid (cysteine). Taurine is produced by the body and used to stabilize cell membranes and appears to have antioxidant and detoxification properties. May be beneficial to heart health and has been suspected of aiding the lowering of blood pressure.
Side Effects: None known.
Common Uses: Energy drinks
TurmericDescription: A yellow root extract used for it's flavor and colorant properties.
Common Uses: baked products, dairy products, ice cream, yogurts, cakes, cookies, popcorn, candy, cake icings, cereals, sauces, gelatins
Vitamin A (incl. beta-carotene) Description: A fat-soluble vitamin. The human body converts beta-carotene into Vitamin A in the liver. Dietary supplement.
Side Effects: None as an additive.
Common Uses: Milk and cream, margarine, cheeses and cheese products.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) Description: Vitamin found in legumes and other sources, helps the body convert carbohydrates into energy Dietary supplement
Side Effects: None
Common Uses: Macaroni products, cereal flours
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) Description: Vitamin found in yogurt, wheat germ and other sources Dietary supplement
Side Effects: None
Common Uses: Cereal flours, bakery products
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Description: Vitamin found in abundance in liver, chicken, tuna, whole-grain cereals Dietary supplement
Side Effects: None
Common Uses: Cereal flours, enriched bread, macaroni and noodle products
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) Description: Water-soluble vitamin Preservative, dietary supplement
Side Effects: None as a food additive. In extremely large doses (daily intake of over 1 g), may increase risk of kidney stone (calcium oxalate stone) production.
Common Uses: Cereal flours, jellies and preserves, canned mushrooms and artichokes
Vitamin D Description: A fat-soluble vitamin humans can produce naturally through exposure to direct sunlight. Prevents rickets
Side Effects: None as an additive
Common Uses: Milk, macaroni products, cereal products
Xanthan gum (zantham gum)Description: A polysaccharide produced by Xanthonomonas campestris bacterium used as a stabilizer, thickener, foam enhancer, and gluten substitute. In the United States, xantham gum is mostly produced from the fermentation of corn starch by the Xanthonomonas campestris bacterium.
Side Effects: No clear side effects.
Common Uses: Gluten-free flour, salad dressings, ice cream, yogurt, sour cream
Yeast Description: Single-celled organisms used as a fermenting and/or rising agent.
Side Effects: None
Common Uses: Bakery products, macaroni and noodle products, enriched corn meal, alcoholic beverages
Yellow #5 (Tartrazine)Description: An artificial (synthetic) food dye of lemon-yellow hue derived from petroleum distillates.
Side Effects: May aggravate allergies. May cause hives in fewer than one out of 10,000 people. There is no evidence Yellow #5 provokes asthma attacks nor that aspirin-intolerant individuals may have a cross-sensitivity to the color. Commonly believed to worsen hyperactivity and attention-deficit disorder.
Common Uses: Custards, beverages, ice cream, confections, preserves, cereals
Yellow #6 (Sunset Yellow)Description: An artificial (synthetic) food dye of orange hue derived from petroleum distillates.
Side Effects: ?
Common Uses: Cereals, baked goods, snack foods, ice cream, beverages, confections

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Written by Michael Chu
Published on February 15, 2005 at 08:00 PM
71 comments on Additives:(Post a comment)

On August 10, 2005 at 06:36 AM, satsumabug (guest) said...
What a great list. Thank you for sharing it.


On August 10, 2005 at 06:36 AM, Amy Sherman (guest) said...
This is terrific!

I wonder about vitamins and minerals that get added to baked goods--thiamine, niacin, etc. why do they add them in the first place? Is this just to replace the nutrients that are destoyed during processing?


On August 10, 2005 at 06:36 AM, Jen (guest) said...
I think it's important to note that folic acid is extremely important for women planning children. Adequate folic acid before and during pregnancy drasticly reduces the incidence of neural tube defects.


On August 10, 2005 at 06:37 AM, Jessica (guest) said...
Ugh, I hate additives. I'm so used to making my own food that my once-favorite shelf-stable foods now taste like chemicals. Did you see the NY Times article on Trans Fats? One Nutrigrain bar has 2.5 grams of trans fat, the same amount as three Oreos!

BTW, I tag you for the music meme!


On August 10, 2005 at 06:38 AM, Michael Chu said...
re: vitamin enriched products

Often vitamins are added to baked goods to replace those lost in ingredient refining or processing. For example, in my article on wheat flours I mention that niacin, riboflavin, thiamin and iron are added into flours that have had the wheat germ removed. This is because the wheat germ contains many of these minerals and vitamins (but also oils that can go rancid pretty fast making the flour unfit for consumption). Also, steel grinding can produce enough heat to destroy some vitamins, so those are added to the flour.

Some baked goods contain additional vitamins, simply to have more added. Usually, these are breakfast foods or nutrient bars.


On August 10, 2005 at 06:38 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Phosphoric Acid is Most commonly found ic soda. specificly cola's.

I dont drink the stuff, but I DO use it to strip rust off of morotcycle gas tanks...


On August 10, 2005 at 06:38 AM, fanatic (guest) said...
Great list!


On August 10, 2005 at 06:39 AM, jeremy (guest) said...
Fabulous list. I've always avoided packaged food, and lately I'm also making a conscious effort to buy completely unprocessed food such as bleached flour and white rice.

It can be difficult at times but considering what I've read lately about how your body handles these chemicals it's not a bad idea.


On August 10, 2005 at 06:39 AM, ejm_repost (guest) said...
The thing that I really love about carnuba wax is that it is the hardest known wax. This is probably why it is an ingredient in floor and furniture wax. I wonder how long it takes to digest!

http://www.wellnaturally.ca/ingredients/carnuba.html


On August 10, 2005 at 06:40 AM, Starlight (guest) said...
Hey, you don't have this list in a document of any kind do you? I would like to use this for reference later... Only if it's not too much trouble...


On August 10, 2005 at 06:40 AM, an anonymous reader said...
MSG - I'm surprised that you didn't list some additional side effects: It causes excessive thirst, and it can give some people headaches. I can attest to those two. My friend says that his tongue tingles when he eats MSG, but that's probably a rarer allergy.

Carnauba wax - I was disturbed to see it listed in my gummy bears ingredients, knowing that I had just waxed my car with the same stuff. =)


On August 10, 2005 at 06:41 AM, Mark Sicignano (guest) said...
What's with the carreegenan and guar gums in foods to "fake" that creamy texture. Especially Ice Cream.

I'm a complete fan of Breyer's All Natural ice creams.

Turkey Hill makes two kinds. Their regular ice creams tout "All Natural Flavor", but they have additives and aren't "natural". Then they have "Turkey Hill Philadelphia Style" ice cream. "Philadelphia Style" is their "All Natural" brand.

In both cases, they cost more, but they're worth it.

Ice Cream was never meant to have seaweed extracts to make it creamy. They're supposed to have cream to make it creamy! Jeesh!


On August 10, 2005 at 06:41 AM, Michael Chu said...
re: downloadable list

I prepared two versions for download. Be aware that the list is constantly being updated, so the download will only reflect the latest version. The first link is for the Comma-Seperated Value file while the second is for the Text file.

http://www.cookingforengineers.com/ingredients/additives_body.php?csv

http://www.cookingforengineers.com/ingredients/additives_body.php?txt


On August 10, 2005 at 06:41 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Anonymous - MSG is merely a simple salt of an essential and commonplace amino acid. Tests have been run on people who claim to recieve an "MSG headache" and in not one single case has it held up as anything more than psychomatic. Its bad repution probably stems from an association with Chinese people, and an innate racism against them.

When used correctly, the use of MSG greatly cuts down on the amount of table salt used, and overall salt intake is reduced. Still it's true that overly large amounts of MSG aren't good for you, nor as immediatly noticeable as overly large amounts of table salt.

Our brains are hard-wired to believe that a small amount of glutamate will taste good, so I believe it has a legitimate place in any kitchen, and is a good accompaniment to certain lighter dishes.


On August 10, 2005 at 06:42 AM, an anonymous reader said...
As a biochemistry PhD candidate interested in food additives, I would like to add the following information on aspartame:

Aspartame is metabolically degrade in your body into phenylalanine and aspartate, two of the twenty most common amino acids that appear n nature. Although your body is no stranger to aspartate, a daily dietary infusion of aspartate can be extremely problematic. Apartate belongs to a special class of compounds that able to cross the Ďblood-brain barrierí, meaning that once itís in your blood it can enter your brain. In your brain, aspatrate functions as a natural neurotransmitter and an excess of aspartate from dietary aspartame will over-stimulate neurons resulting in either the desensitization or death of large numbers of neurons. These effects are observed in test animals given extreamly small regular doses of aspartame (the sort of dose you would get from a daily diet cola) and are particularity problematic for the developing brains of children or infants. Additionally, aspartame can be converted partially to formaldehyde, a potent carcinogen, by the bodyís metabolic enzymes. And thatís why I donít eat anything with aspartame. Trans-fat is also an interesting topic of discussion. Needless to say, avoid it at all costs.


On August 10, 2005 at 06:45 AM, Tim (guest) said...
Here's one for the list: Sodium erythorbate

I noticed it in a can of "Potted Meat Food Product". (I bought it out of curiosity, not to eat!)

Hormel, Armour and Libby's all make that particular product.

Apparently its also good for Boiler Treatment, Drilling Fluids and Film Processing

Tim


On August 10, 2005 at 06:45 AM, Tim (guest) said...
Hmm.. Perhaps "Erythorbic acid" and "Sodium erythorbate" are the same thing.


On August 10, 2005 at 06:46 AM, ccc (guest) said...
You should look for glutamate alone; if used by itself, MSG won't show up in the ingredient list.

Also, what's the deal with transfat-free products that are made with partially hydrogenated soybean oil? How is this possible?


On August 10, 2005 at 06:46 AM, Michael Chu said...
re: trans fat free with PHVO

This is definitely a confusing topic. Not all partially hydrogrenated vegetable oils contain trans fatty acids. But, statistically there will be some quantity of trans since the process does not provide enough control to create only cis fats. There are two cases where you can have trans fatty acid free foods that I can think of:

1. The partially hydrogenated fat is almost completely fully hydrogenated (e.g. commercial peanut butter). The label is not marked fully hydrogenated because the vegetable oil has not been guaranteed as fully hydrogenated. In the case of peanut butter, the trans fat content is so small (or not present) that modern instruments cannot detect/measure it.

2. In the United States, the Nutrition Facts label can state 0 g of trans fat if there is less than 0.5 g of trans fat per serving. If a serving is defined as a small quantity and the trans fat content falls below 0.5 g, then they don't have to report it. The downside of all this is that most people eat more than one serving of foods with small serving sizes so you could be consuming several grams of trans fat without knowing it.

Look for partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and avoid when possible. If something traditionally uses PHVO and is now claiming zero trans fat, look to see if they replaced it with fully hydrogenated vegetable oil, butter, or palm oil (sometimes called palm oil shortening), which do not contain trans fats. If they simply reorganized their label and serving size (like the last version of "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" that I saw in the store) and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil is a main ingredient, then avoid.


On August 10, 2005 at 06:47 AM, rishab ghosh (guest) said...
EU E- numbers / European food additives.

In europe, permitted food additives are "harmonised" and given numbers starting with E (e.g. E-260 for acetic acid). Foodlaw (http://www.foodlaw.rdg.ac.uk/additive.htm) has a list of E-numbers and what they mean, as well as much more information on the regulation of food additives in europe.

-rishab


On August 10, 2005 at 06:47 AM, ejm_repost (guest) said...
For those who are afraid of MSG, get hold of a copy of Jeffery Steingarten's "It Must've Been Something I Ate" and read the chapter entitled 'Why Doesn't Everyone in China Have a Headache?'. Also take a look at the FAQ at internet-grocer.net: www.internet-grocer.net/faq.htm#1and page 5 "msg and food intolerances" in the pdf file on MSG from the International Food Information Council at
http://ific.org/publications/reviews/upload/Glutamate-and-Monosodium-Glutamate.pdf
While I would never recommend that anyone eat a whole container of MSG all at once, the only ones who should be concerned about MSG consumption are those who are allergic to gluten. But that is only because MSG is sometimes derived from wheat. And now I read that the Canadian celiac association is saying that MSG is safe because it is now generally derived from sugar beets.


On August 10, 2005 at 06:48 AM, an anonymous reader said...
By local minister, Pat Martin, proposed a law that would make it illegal for any business to produce or sell trans-fat for consumption. This law has recently been passed by Ottawa and will apply not only to grocery stores but also to restaurants. There is a one year grace period, but by this time next year, Canadians should be able to eat in relative safety. Itís defiantly a fringe benefit of public health care that because the government foots the bill, they tend to enact more laws that protect public safety.

-Aaron


On August 10, 2005 at 06:48 AM, an anonymous reader said...
MSG

> Its bad repution probably stems from an association with Chinese people, and an innate racism against them.

I'm Chinese. All the people that have told me that MSG is not good for you, and that you can get headaches from MSG were Chinese people. So it's not like European Americans are the only ones against MSG.

> Tests have been run on people who claim to recieve an "MSG headache" and in not one single case has it held up as anything more than psychomatic.

Well, if someone knows in advance that some good has MSG, then claims a headache, that's a weak case. But if you don't know ahead of time and whenever you get a headache after eating, then find out MSG was an ingredient, I would believe that. Personally, once I got a bag of Ranch Corn Nuts, devoured the bag, and immediately got a headache and even nausea. I checked the ingredients, and there was MSG pretty high on the list. While this was not a scientific experiment, I believe that the headache was due to the high MSG content consumed rapidly. Can you suggest something else in the ingredients that may have caused it?

Tests can be fallible when they are not designed correctly, or make wrong assumptions. The Mayo Clinic seems to agree about MSG headaches:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/invoke.cfm?objectid=ABADB830-211F-4F16-BABCD37DB121C90A
Here's a site that lists MSG studies (both positive and negative).
http://diet-studies.com/msg.html

> Why Doesn't Everyone in China Have a Headache

I haven't read the book, but to respond to that statement, Chinese people don't cook with MSG at home. And if they do, it's in small quantities.


On August 10, 2005 at 06:49 AM, ejm_repost (guest) said...
>Personally, once I got a bag of Ranch Corn Nuts, devoured the bag, and immediately got a headache and even nausea. I checked the ingredients, and there was MSG pretty high on the list.

This is hardly proof that MSG was the cause of the headache and nausea. What other things are in the list of ingredients? Was this bag of ranch corn nuts devoured on an empty stomach? Was it accompanied by any liquids? Other starches? How much salt was consumed?

(I'm not familiar with "ranch corn nuts" and after googling do not readily find a list of ingredients) I'd wager that there could have been several reasons for nausea after "devouring the bag" - what size was the bag? In my experience, corn is not that easily digested anyway. Or it could be that the headache and nausea was induced by being dehydrated. Is there a significant amount of salt in ranch corn nuts (my guess is yes).

Obviously, if a person quickly consumes huge quantities of even the safest food, there is risk of nausea and/or headache.

Again, I'm not implying that one should use MSG indiscriminately, but a small amount will probably not cause much harm.


On August 10, 2005 at 06:49 AM, Anna (guest) said...
This is a great website, and it's so cool that it's from a fellow Cal EECS alum! I'm hoping that it will give me inspiration to start cooking some more.


On August 10, 2005 at 06:49 AM, Mike (guest) said...
One Of my Friends told me about stevia. Its a sweetener that comes from a plant, and the FDA has baned it yet its very popular in Japan.

http://www.stevia.net/

Great List
-Mike


On August 10, 2005 at 06:50 AM, ejm_repost (guest) said...
One of my friends buys stevia at the Healthfood store (Canada) and uses it to sweeten her coffee.

Mike, after looking at www.stevia.net, it appears that stevia is available in USA in healthfood stores but only if it's labelled as a "dietary supplement" and cannot be referred to as sweet or a sweetener.

This "About" article is rather interesting:
TOXIC OR TASTY: The Real Issue in the Stevia Battles (http://healing.about.com/cs/uc_directory/a/uc_stevia_jones.htm)


On August 10, 2005 at 06:51 AM, Dragnore (guest) said...
MSG's gotten a little bit of a bum rap. I myself was against it for a long time assuming it was a manmade chemical. Turns out I was way off. MSG is a natural compound found in seaweed and the ingredient is derived from said plant. This is one of the reasons it's a dominante flavor many Asian cuisines. Some people are allergic to MSG, this can cause people problems though it would vary from person to person like any allergy. An interesting thing to note is that MSG is considered a taste in and of itself (along with Sweet, Salty, Sour, etc) in Japan.


On August 10, 2005 at 06:51 AM, an anonymous reader said...
MSG is not considered a separate taste, exactly. It is part of "umami", which is supposedly best described as the fullness one experiences in cheese, meat, soup broth, etc. It is said to indicate the presence of amino acids/glutamate/aspartates.


On August 10, 2005 at 06:51 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Also, MSG is not derived from seaweed anymore, although that was the original source. It is produced by fermenting molasses or starch hydrolyzate into l-glutamic acid, which is then neutralized with sodium hydroxide. Before this, wheat gluten was used, which contains upwards of 25% MSG by weight.


On August 10, 2005 at 06:52 AM, an anonymous reader said...
1) Umami is considered a specific flavor. There is much evidence to support that human tongues have receptors for Glutamate.

Rather than cook with MSG, celery is a good source of it-- that's why Celery tastes like water but makes food much tasty.

2) Nobody is allergic to "aspartame" per se, it's a sensitivity to phenylaline. Those that have this condition are required to be vegetarians (as meat contains it as well). I think Aspartame has a far worse reputation than it deserves, but I'm still a sucrose man, myself.

3) Chocolate doesn't contain caffeine (unless added). Chocolate contains a compound called Theobromine, which indeed is related to caffeine.

Theobromine's properties are much more positive in my opinion, it's processed much slower, it's a mood enhancer, and its stimulant properties are much more relaxed. And dogs can't handle it so don't give your dog chocolate.

4) Lecithin is found in chocolate and considered to be very healthy. Turmeric (Curcumin) also has healthy properties.

I find it impressive (and frightening) how many food colorings are derived from petroleum!


On August 10, 2005 at 06:52 AM, Jeff Dougan (guest) said...
On lecithin: Also found in egg yolks; it's the phospholipid that makes eggs such great emulsifiers.

On MSG #1: Although most people aren't particularly sensitive to it in normal-to-moderate doses, there are some people who are especially sensitive to glutamates in general.

On MSG #2: The glutamate sensitive should also keep their eyes on ingredients for "hydrolyzed vegetable protein" or similar phrases. Hydrolysis is the process that breaks proteins down into their component amino acids, and some glutamate will invariably be released in the process. (P)HVP's will usually be used as a way to add glutamate and the corresponding umami taste to a product.


On August 10, 2005 at 06:52 AM, an anonymous reader said...
>Personally, once I got a bag of Ranch Corn Nuts, devoured the bag, and immediately got a headache and even nausea. I checked the ingredients, and there was MSG pretty high on the list.

I always get a headache when I eat 'ranch' flavoured anything and I don't think it has anything to do with MSG (in fact I suspect that it is psychological) but some flavouring in it does not agree with me. If I think its psychological does that rule it out...?

I often get a headachy feeling when I eat yellow, green or orange candy. I can't figure out if it's the colouring or the flavouring. I only have trouble with certain candies, and never with pop or other processed foods. It's always the gummy chewy sticks to you teeth transparent candies, like sour keys. Red candy I never have a problem with.


I don't see what's wrong with having seaweed in ice-cream. It's not like iced is a natural state for the cream anyway.


On August 10, 2005 at 06:53 AM, an anonymous reader said...
3) Chocolate doesn't contain caffeine (unless added). Chocolate contains a compound called Theobromine, which indeed is related to caffeine.

I am curious to know more about this... I personally have an allergic reaction to caffeine. (This is document by several different doctors- not something I self diagnosed.)

I have always been told that the caffeine in chocolate comes from the coca bean used to make the chocolate. I always check for coca bean or coca butter prior to purchasing a product. Needless to say- I don't eat much chocolate since almost all chocolate items contain one of these ingredents. I have found some white chocolate that does not contain either of these, but it is a rare find.


On August 10, 2005 at 06:54 AM, Michael Chu said...
re: cocoa and caffeine

Almost all chocolate has caffeine added. The question I'm wondering is whether or not cocoa naturally has caffeine. My sources say yes - about one tenth of the amount of theobromine, but nonetheless it does have caffeine. Now a number of internet websites claim there is no caffeine in processed cocoa (unless added), and some even cite scientific papers which I have been unable to find. In short, I don't know if cocoa has caffiene, but every piece of printed literature I've been able to find says "yes" and there are more than a handful of websites that say "no, it's another food myth".


On August 10, 2005 at 06:54 AM, an anonymous reader said...
I'm not a doctor or chemist, however, I would say that it would be worthwhile to consume a decent amount of chocolate at some point and find out if you actually do have a sensitivity to it the same way you get with caffeine.

I do apologize for my mistake, apparently cocoa does contain small amounts of caffeine, 17mg per liter, which is the same as a cup of decaf tea, and less than 1% that of espresso.

If caffeine is added to chocolate, I would imagine that it would have to be labelled as such.


On August 10, 2005 at 06:54 AM, drink recipes (guest) said...
Wow, I gotta say, this is a really nice complete list of all the stuff that we put in our body.

Thanks for sharing it with us.


On August 10, 2005 at 06:55 AM, an anonymous reader said...
I must respectfully disagree that "all chocolate has caffeine added". Caffeine is a drug, however common it may be, and you are suggesting that it may legally be added to a food but omitted* from the list of ingredients?


On August 10, 2005 at 06:55 AM, Michael Chu said...
I believe I might have used the wrong words in my last comment. As a base ingredient, most common chocolate contains caffeine. I don't know if it's been added or it's naturally there - but it's there...


On August 19, 2005 at 06:21 PM, Researcher/Manufacturer (guest) said...
Subject: Additives
Actually, caffeine can be added to an ingredient and not be listed as an additive - if the supplier of the ingredient that normally naturally contains caffeine bumps up the level of it and it is then sold to the manufacturer.

And did you know that caffeine helps minimize and reduce the incidence of cancer? Caffeine is not the horrible culprit that many deem it to be - in the amounts that people drink it in coffee at several huge cups per day, yes it can cause jitters, anxiety, etc. In someone like myself, even in small amounts it can do the same. But caffeine itself actually has some amazing health benefits so having in your product - particularly naturally ocurring and in small amounts - is not necessarily a bad thing. Just make sure you don;t add milk to your coffee or tea - milk proteins bind with the polyphenols (other natural compounds in coffee and tea) that have health and anicancer benefits. So some coffee each day is not a bad thing!

It seems here there is some nit picking about "additives". Guar gum and natural thickeners, such as agar, are commonly used in cooking around the world and are very natural. They are ingredients, or natural "additives" not nasty negative "additives". Some actually have health promoting properties such as burdock root. Their use does not mean that a manufacturer is "skimping' on quality items at all - it means that that is what they used in their recipe to create whatever texture, thickness, viscosity, they wanted to - or it can be used to hold things together in solid forms.

Question for someone familiar with Japanese regulations: WHat is acceptable in Japan for use as a release agent or lubricant in candies or tablets other than magnesium stearate (a natural vegetable fatty acid)?

Much obliged!

P.S> MSG makes me sick, plain and simple.


On November 01, 2005 at 07:32 PM, *morningstar said...
A big part of the reason MSG is associated with Chinese food (and Asian food in general) is because it's found naturally in soy (and seaweed, as a few other people have mentioned) and also because it was common for Chinese resturants in the US put extra MSG in their food to help bloster the taste of low quality (read: cheap) ingredients. Headaches and nausea caused by MSG are sometimes called 'Chinese Resturant Syndrome.' But really, a lot of cheap foodstuffs have MSG added to them to make the customer think that what they're eating is higher quality than it really is. I've seen many Chinese resturants in my area advertising 'No MSG' in their food to help calm additive-conscious customers.

I agree with Dragnore, there is a distinct flavor that MSG gives to food that can be picked out, although I've never gotten ill from it. I try to avoid foods with MSG added in addition to what's naturally in some foods simply because I don't like unnecessary chemicals in what I'm eating, but it's not the end of the world since it doesn't make me ill.

...

Perhaps MSG deserves it's own article?


On February 23, 2006 at 08:00 PM, justaguest (guest) said...
Subject: caffeine in chocolate
Without reviewing my biochem, and that's my background, I believe that it is sloppiness in descriptions that accounts for people claiming the presence of caffeine in chocolate, when in fact, it is theobromine. Theobromine is an analog of caffeine, an analog simply meaning that the chemical or molecular structure is very nearly, but importantly, not, identical to caffeine. So, it can have similar, but not identical side effects on a person. Same as theophyline in tea. People claim caffeine in tea, but theophyline is an analog of caffeine. Anyway, my disclaimer is that I didn't have time to look up to refresh my memory, but, as an ex-professional scientist, I've seen a lot of general sloppiness that causes people to believe something erroneous. Some science mags or sources figure the masses don't need to know the accurate details, so they talk "down" to the masses. However, that being said, there could, indeed, be small amounts of caffeine in chocolate and tea, as well as the analogs I've mentioned. Just not time to research it at the moment.


On March 07, 2006 at 12:34 AM, beth (guest) said...
Subject: additives
I found this wonderful book at goodwill that explains all these,and I guess you can also buy the book on amazon if you're lucky, but anyone who is truly curious about what's in our food, I would highly recommend this book:Our poisoned earth and sky (Preliminary task force report)
It's old but still very relevant, and it really opens your mind to the fact that nothing you eat anymore is without poison unless you grew it yourself in virgin soil, probably in a greenhouse. Not gonna sell my book though. :)


On March 07, 2006 at 12:48 AM, beth (guest) said...
Subject: BHT
I became interested in BHT since I read in the book mentioned previous about what BHT stands for, the T is for tolouene which is also a component of the car paint we sell at my job and that stuff is soooo noxious! I found this site about the properties of BHT and it's really frightening! This stuff is commonly found in gum and hotdogs, and other preserved meat products. They actually call it an Anti-Oxidant! I am getting a little confused lately about antioxidants, cuz some of them are purely lethal, apparently. http://www.inchem.org/documents/icsc/icsc/eics0841.htm
Bht is derived from coal tars which are known to have carcinogenic effects
It would be lovely if they would just sell fresh food in its natural color and leave all this preservative CRAP out of it. It's ridiculous how much undigestible chemicals go into almost all food.


On March 17, 2006 at 08:04 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Folic Acid
It's also important and interesting to note that synthetic folic acid that is added to foods to increase their folate content and also to multivitamins or supplements is much better absorbed by the body than forms of naturally occuring folate. It's one of the few vitamins whose synthetic form is more absorbable than the naturally occuring form. PS I have a degree in human nutrition from the University of Florida, I promise I'm not making this up! :)


On March 30, 2006 at 09:17 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Seaweed in ice cream
Reading through the comments, I noticed several mentioned that seaweed extract should not be added to ice cream to make it more creamy. Those extracts are not necessarily added to make ice cream more creamy, but to keep ice crystal size small as the ice cream sits in you self-defrosting freezer. Don't get me wrong-I do like Bryers-but ice cream without those extracts get icy very quickly in the freezer. So unless you plan on eating all the ice cream in a short amount of time, don't be afraid of buying ice cream with a bit of seaweed in it. Cream doesn't give the creamy texture, the small ice crystals do.


On July 18, 2006 at 05:20 AM, Stephane (guest) said...
Subject: try reading labels in Australia
I've been into reading food labels for a while now, but got stymied when we moved to Australia from the US. Down here they are required to use codes from a lookup table rather than actual ingredients, so it might look something like this: (exerpt from my bread)

vegetable emulsifier(471, 322), food acid( 260), mineral (170), flour treatment agent (300), preservative (202).

This is ridiculous because you actually have no idea what is in your food anymore. The list is made available on a governmental website, but really who is going to carry around a list of 1500 items when they do their shopping? It seems like a total food industry scam to me.
Anyway, maybe you should file this under 'misplaced rant'.
-Stephane


On September 07, 2006 at 05:16 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Iron entry
I noticed the iron entry says that there are no side effects for iron as a food additive and then looks like it has an asterisk, but I can't find a footnote for it on the page. I thought you might add in the table that overdosing on iron supplements is a major cause of fatal poisoning in children. It's such a harmless seeming thing that it's good to be aware of this.


On October 30, 2006 at 06:43 PM, Jeremy in Mich (guest) said...
Subject: aluminum phosphate
I notice that your list does not have alumimum phosphate or any alumimum additives (i.e baking powder component). Does alumimum in the diet contribute or cause Alzheimer's ? I dont know, although I do know that there it concerns me that it might, and after seeing several family members go through Alzheimer's it bothers me that it is in a number of foods still.

For example almost all of those frozen pizzas and some frozen foods have it.
sometimes tortillas do and many pre-mixed baking mixes still have it.

I was just surpirxed not to see it one your list...


On October 31, 2006 at 01:07 AM, jimjimjim9 said...
Jeremy:

Rumford baking powder is one of the few that is aluminum free. Works great.

http://www.rumfordworld.com/htdocs/products.htm


On November 06, 2006 at 05:47 PM, Jeremy in Mich (guest) said...
I rarely ever use baking powder, but aluminum is still used in some, although not as much as it used to be. Right now I have an aluminum and phosphate free backing powder with only calcum carbonate and citric acid, not that phosphates are really that bad, I think they are hard on the kidneys maybe?

my favorite thing was to make pancakes with baking soda and sour/butter milk (mild with a table spoon of vingar) it works great and I thought they tasted great without the aftertaste of baking powder, maybe it didnt make a diference i dunno.

Jeremy


On November 16, 2006 at 12:25 AM, Lintballoon said...
Subject: Thank you
Thanks Michael,
For opening up this topic.
As someone who finds cooking relaxing, I generally don't eat pre-prepared foods (except, of course Cheetos for breakfast), both because of a suspicion of additives, but also because of an objection to the "sameness" of mass produced foodstuffs. I can make a pound of beans in a pressure cooker for about .89 cents or I can buy a can of beans for about the same price.
I rarely buy the can because I like the variability of my own cooking. And I know what has gone in to it.
(Except that the pressure cooker is aluminum, and who knows what the dried beans have been treated with to prevent pests and mold, oh well...)
I know a lot of people who distain cooking because they consider it a distraction, or they just don't have the time.
I treasure distraction...Sometimes just standing in the kitchen on a sunny afternoon chopping veggies feels good. I always find that ordinary tasks open up the mind, my best solutions usually come when I am doing dishes, riding on the bus, anything except staring at a piece of paper (or computer screen)


On May 22, 2007 at 02:20 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Artificial sugar/sweetener
A note about artificial low carb sugar /sweetener. This came up as a tangent in my conservation biology class a while ago. The low carb sweeteners are a modified form of sugar. As it is almost sugar, it retains the sweet taste. However, the body recognizes it as a toxin so it does not metabolize it. Most of it passes through your system, but a small amount (something like 5-15%, I cant remember exactly) accumulates in your body. I don't know of evidence saying this is harmful, but your body thinks it is toxic.... Not to mention the completely unknown environmental consequences of this now common ingredient.


On June 06, 2007 at 03:03 AM, martianshoes (guest) said...
Subject: Fat free Half n' Half
I saw artifical colors listed on the side of carton of my Fat Free Half n' Half. I wrote them to find out what these colors where...and they said it was proprietory, and that they did not have to tell me. I have heard some horror stories about users of non-dairly creamers having long strands of ropey gunk scraped out of their arteries...


On August 15, 2007 at 02:51 PM, MissLinda said...
The list of additives does not load on my computer (using firefox, tried IE as well). Help?


On August 15, 2007 at 06:28 PM, Michael Chu said...
MissLinda wrote:
The list of additives does not load on my computer (using firefox, tried IE as well). Help?

It's not working right now. Apparently, it was one of the pages that died when I moved servers and changed out most of my code. I discovered this last week, so it's on my list of things to fix. Sorry for the inconvenience.


On August 15, 2007 at 08:22 PM, MissLinda said...
:) No rush, thanks for the reply!


On August 16, 2007 at 12:00 PM, Lintballoon said...
Subject: CO in Meat
I recently read an artical about Carbon Monoxide gas used in meat packaging to make older meat look bright red longer. (One of the Wal___'s, I can't remember whether Walmart or Walgreens had agreed to stop doing it. The article was in Treehugger)
That's the kind of thing that really alarms me, because stuff like that isn't listed as an "ingredient".


On August 16, 2007 at 04:59 PM, Thor said...
Subject: Carbon Monoxide
Quote:
because stuff like that isn't listed as an "ingredient".


Should they not also list nitrogen, oxygen, argon, carbon dioxide and water vapor??

Is there an unhealthy byproduct produced by carbon monoxide treatment? Or if not completely dissipated, is there a adverse health impact due to the presence of carbon monoxide in my packaged meat?


On August 17, 2007 at 12:24 AM, Lintballoon said...
Subject: CO adverse effect
I don't think there is an adverse health effect from the CO itself. I think the main objection is that the meat is in effect dyed (not technically so, but the effect is the same) It's like buying fruits and veggies that have been gassed to look ripe, but haven't really developed the sugars by ripening. So you think you are getting super fresh meat, but you are not.
I don't know if the other things you listed are used to process foods. Argon? Is that used to purge oxygen in packaging? (I know it is used in industrial furnaces.)
I do know that some of the processes used to package, preserve and ship foods do so at the expense of flavor (and sometimes to benefit it). Like the wet processing of scallops, really ruins the flavor. The benefit to the seller is that the scallops hold more water. The downside for the buyer is they are paying for water, and for a nasty tasting additive.


On August 17, 2007 at 12:41 AM, Lintballoon said...
Subject: Food processing
Actually, Thor opened up a subject that has always held great interest to me, not really from a health or tastiness concern, but out of curiousity. (well, a little from a tastiness concern.)
How is food processed? I'm not talking so much about prepared food, but of simple produce, flour, meats, fish, dairy.
I love to take factory tours. One summer many years ago I was doing a community cable show, and one of our (unfinished, as far as I know) projects was to go to a local apple orchard, and follow the process of tending the orchards, harvesting, processing and storing. There was a lot to it. I believe they too used CO, though I'm not sure, some gas, to remove oxygen during storage to slow down ripening. The fruit was held in just above freezing coolers and the oxygen was removed. Big, serious signs warned the workers that death would occur within 5 minutes if they stayed in the coolers once the oxygen was removed.
It was really fascinating.
I'd love to hear from anyone experienced in the food industry about what happens in between the field and the grocery store. And what professional food people think about it.


On October 09, 2007 at 02:13 AM, Guest (guest) said...
Subject: Additive list
Where is this list? All I can find is the comments about ingredients on the list. Please post a link to the additve list. Thank you.


On October 17, 2007 at 03:29 AM, elizaguest (guest) said...
Subject: where is the list?
For some reason I can't see the list, the rest of the page is blank. I don't think it is my computer, because I have been browsing your site all evening. But I doubt it is the site, for other people seem to have been able to read it. Is it in invisible cyberink?


On October 17, 2007 at 04:11 AM, Michael Chu said...
No, I'm sorry - there's a bug that's causing the additives list to not load. I've got it on my list of bugs to fix. Sorry for everyone who arrived hoping to see the list! I'll get it fixed soon!


On November 15, 2007 at 12:08 PM, The Yakima Kid said...
Subject: Bakewell Cream
I use sodium acid pyrophosphate, available in home size containers as "Bakewell Cream", as a leavener; both the regular and the starch free versions can be ordered on the Internet.

In behavior this product is in between cream of tartar-baking soda mixes (formerly marketed pre-combined as "single acting baking powder") and double acting baking powders.


On November 15, 2007 at 12:26 PM, The Yakima Kid said...
Subject: Re: Food processing
Lintballoon wrote:
I'd love to hear from anyone experienced in the food industry about what happens in between the field and the grocery store. And what professional food people think about it.


My thoughts are very positive regarding the safety of foods produced here in the United States. One thing that irks me is that processed food has been so safe for so long that the education system in this country abandoned the once traditional junior high and high school life skills courses that covered such subjects as safe food preparation. This has lead to people under cooking ground beef or drinking unpasteurized milk and juices because they are completely unaware of the very real risks involved.

Not all processing involves exotic additives or esoteric processes. Much of it is simple freezing or retort canning.

In short, food processing in effect "idiot proofed" most common dietary items, and the knowledge of food risks and food borne illnesses and their prevention seems to have been lost.


On November 30, 2007 at 07:11 PM, Laurie (guest) said...
Subject: List
This list is still missing. Do you know when it will be back up and running. Or can I get an email copy of it.

letsgo.sens@gmail.com

Thanks


On December 03, 2007 at 08:35 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: List
Laurie wrote:
This list is still missing. Do you know when it will be back up and running.

Got it working again. Thanks for being patient.


On April 18, 2010 at 03:38 PM, leffty013 (guest) said...
Subject: Calcium Disodium EDTA and Lactic Acid
Calcium Disodium EDTA and Lactic Acid can both cause an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals. I react strongly to either one and they should be avoided by anyone with a milk allergy. Pretty much anything with any part of the words Lactic, Calcium(some are safe, derived from oranges or minerals), or Casien is on my avoid list.


On March 19, 2011 at 11:51 AM, aztekium (guest) said...
Subject: Avoiding harmful food additives
When buying food I always look carefully at ingriedients list on packages.
I installed an application on my iPhone which gives me detailed information on each additive: origin, usage, danger, side effects, ...

There are many applications for iPhone around but I chose this one because it allows for the definitio of a user profile based on some personal characteristics, lifestyle and health conditions.
Then it highlights the additives that are considered critical for the user's profile.
The name of the application is [u:c40c270587]Personal Food Additives[/u:c40c270587].
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/personal-food-additives/id403669239?mt=8

Has anybody experienced other applications?


On August 02, 2012 at 02:02 PM, chanman (guest) said...
You might want to add that Annatto is the traditional colouring agent for orange (as opposed to white) cheddar cheese. (And therefore extremely commonly encountered, I suppose)

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