When You Read An Ingredients List Do You Feel Like A Moron?
March 3, 2011 20 Comments
After spending 9 LONG years in higher education, you would think that Snack Girl would understand the basic chemistry of food. Alas, she is lost when looking at some food packages.
NOTHING prepared me for evaluating "Whole Wheat Wonder Bread". Check out this ingredient list:
whole wheat flour, water, high fructose corn syrup or sugar, wheat gluten, yeast. Contains 2% or less of: soybean oil, salt, calcium sulfate, extracts of malted barley and corn, honey, corn syrup, soy flour,dough conditioners (sodium stearoyl lactylate, calcium dioxide, ethoxylated mono and diglycerides, dicalcium phosphate, mono and diglycerides, datem and/or azodicarbonamide), yeast nutrients (ammonium phosphate, ammonium chloride, ammonium sulfate and /or monocalcium phosphate), Enrichment (vitamin E acetate, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, calcium sulfate, niacin, vitamin D, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, thiamine mononitrate and vitamin B12), Wheat starch, cornstarch, maltodextrin, vinegar, calcium propionate (to retain freshness), whey, soy lecithin.
So, what I wanted to do was tell you guys that it was great that Wonder Bread can be found in Whole Wheat. But, after looking at this list I "felt like a moron".
Fortunately, I found Ruth Winters and her book- "A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives" (2009). Ruth has tirelessly catalogued all the food additives for SEVEN editions to help people like me feel smart again.
Here is an entry on just one of the chemicals in the Whole Wheat Wonder Bread:
AZODICARBONAMIDE - A bleaching and maturing additive for flour. Used in amounts up to 45 ppm. The FDA wants further study of this chemical for both short-term and long-term effects. Although allowed as a food additive, this is no current reported use of the chemical, and, therefore, although toxicology information may be available, it is not being updated. This is a potentially serious problem. See Semicarbazide.
I chose azodicarbonamide on purpose because I know that this chemical has been banned in Australia and Europe. USA, hello?
(and now I bet you want to see the entry for "semicarbazide")
And, yeah, I would avoid it. There are breads out there with ingredients lists that look like this: whole wheat flour, water, salt, yeast and they taste better so I wouldn't buy this bread.
Ruth was kind enough to give me an interview about her book. See below:
Snack Girl: You have written 7 editions of "A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives". What inspired you to start?
Ruth Winters: When my daughter was about 4 years old, she had a terrible case of hives which neither the pediatrician nor the allergist could find that causes.
Finally, the allergist said: “Maybe it’s the penicillin in the milk”. I was a reporter at the time at The Newark-Star-Ledger and I said, “What is penicillin doing in the milk?”
He said, “Well, the farmer treat mastitis in cows themselves without the need of a prescription for antibiotics. They are supposed to throw the milk from the infected cows away. But the milk is pooled from various farms so it is difficult to know who put the penicillin in the pool.”
And that’s how I started. Like everyone else, I thought the FDA was looking over every food producers shoulder to check the ingredients of food. I found I was really naive.
I began investigating food safety and the result was first, "POISONS IN YOUR FOOD "and the second was .
During my research, I found there were absolutely no government regulation of cosmetics and the result was . The latter two books are now in their seven editions recent released and the second edition of "POISONS IN YOU FOOD" is still available in stores and on line.
Snack Girl: Do you think the FDA is doing its job?
Ruth Winters: There are dedicated people in the FDA but they are grossly understaffed and underfunded and are a political football.
For example, the formulae for cosmetics given to the FDA are strictly voluntary and the FDA promises the companies they will protect the info from competitors. There is one FDA person in the room with the secreted formulae and when he or she has to go to the restroom, the door to the room is locked and unguarded.
The new FDA director seems to be enthusiastic about changing things but we will have to see if she can…there are a lot of cuts and controversy going on in government. The food additive and cosmetic manufacturers have powerful lobbies and a lot of money.
Everytime the FDA has taken them to court, the FDA spends a lot of its sparse money and loses the case... so most of the time, they don’t bother.
Now most of our food additives and cosmetic ingredients are made in China and India. The FDA in a gesture, opened up a three-person office in China to oversee the multi-billion dollar food and cosmetic ingredient industries.
Snack Girl: When you go grocery shopping, what do you absolutely avoid?
Ruth Winters: High salt and high sugar products… most packaged cereals
Snack Girl: What is your favorite snack?
Ruth Winters: Hint of Salt Triscuits and plain popcorn.
Thanks so much, Ruth! I gotta try those Triscuits.
How do you feel about food additives?
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