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Kitchen Notes: Additives
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an anonymous reader
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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.
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Tim
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 6:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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
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Tim
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 6:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm.. Perhaps "Erythorbic acid" and "Sodium erythorbate" are the same thing.
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ccc
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 6:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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?
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1626
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 6:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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.
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rishab ghosh
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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
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ejm_repost
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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.
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an anonymous reader
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 6:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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
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an anonymous reader
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 6:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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.
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ejm_repost
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

>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.
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Anna
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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.
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Mike
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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
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ejm_repost
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 6:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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)
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Dragnore
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 6:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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.
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an anonymous reader
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 6:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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.
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