Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

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Ingredients: What Consumers Want?

Food additives are listed on the ingredient lists of packaged food products. There are many that have been used for decades. If they were used before 1958 when the Food Additives Amendment was passed, they are considered prior-sanctioned substances since they were already in common use. Another group of substances were described as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) . Both these categories were excluded from the food additive regulation process.  Just because an additive is on either of these lists doesn’t mean it’s safe. if new evidence emerges that suggests it is unsafe, the FDA may take action to remove the substance from food products. Some ingredients are not welcomed by consumers recently. To see the most common ones:



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The Mac and Cheese Dilemma ?

Just recently, there have been many scary articles in the food news about chemicals called phthalates in Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, a favorite (according to the ads) of our kids.

Marion Nestle gives us the facts and suggests some reasonable and simple advice about how to avoid this alleged problem.

Read about it HERE.

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Panera’s No-No List?

English: The McDouble, a cheeseburger from McD...

English: The McDouble, a cheeseburger from McDonald’s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It seems that the restaurant industry is trying to outdo themselves in order to tell the public that their food is healthier than the other guys.  But they still don’t cut the calories on many of their menu items or cut down portion sizes to a reasonable level. And what will McDonald’s do next to entice back customers?  It will be interesting to watch.


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Do You Want “Silly Putty” or Duck Feathers With That?

Fast Food

Fast Food (Photo credit: SteFou!)

Next time you drive past a fast food window, think about exactly what is hidden in your favorite menu item.  Maybe you should just keep driving-through.  You may be getting more than you bargained for.  Bon appétit.  Click Here.

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Mean Cuisine

I was just reading about the recent recall of Lean Cuisine and the article I read pointed out that in addition to the red bits of plastic found in Spaghetti with Meatball dinner, there were 30-plus ingredients in the dinner, also.   Does anyone read these ingredients (which take a magnifying glass if you’re over 40)  on the package or do we just assume that Lean Cuisine at 270 calories (and we get to eat the whole package) is perfectly fine as a part of our American cuisine?  How many of us  find it  just  easier to pick up a frozen dinner (with low calories) already prepared, so we don’t have to worry about what to eat at least for that meal.  I know I have had those thoughts standing before the freezer case and I should know better.

Which led me to go to my freezer and further examine my package of Glazed Turkey Tenderloins (with whipped sweet potatoes and dressing). On the front of the package, it says “Comfort Cuisine”, “Discover the Goodness”  and “No Preservatives” Looking at the Nutrition Facts I am glad to see only 250 calories (for the whole box), only 5 grams of fat with 1 gram saturated (that’s good), only 25 grams of cholesterol, and a whopping 13 grams of protein – so far so good.  But the 660 mg of sodium sets me back a little, but the 570 mg. of potassium offsets that problem a little.  I also see that there are 38 grams of carbohydrates and 10 grams of sugar, but 3 grams of fiber (due to the sweet potatoes).  OK, not too bad.

So I finally forced myself to read the ingredient list:

Sweet potatoes , water, cooked turkey tenderloins (turkey tenderloins, water, seasoning [yeast extract, maltodextrin, salt, turkey flavor, turkey stock, flavor, gum Arabic], modified cornstarch, salt, canola oil, carrageenan, sodium phosphate, natural flavoring, paprika, SKIM MILK, CROUTONS (enriched flour, (wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamin, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid),high fructose corn syrup, salt, contains 2% or less of: partially hydrogenated soybean oil and/or cottonseed oil, yeast, distilled vinegar,yeast nutrients [monocalcium phosphate,calcium phosphate,ammonium sulfate], cornstarch, soy lecitin, soy flour), onions, celery,2%or less of dried cranberries, (cranberries, sugar, sunflower oil), sugar, honey, modified cornstarch,soybean oil,brown sauce flavor, (maltodexrin, tomato powder, salt, sugar, yeast extract, soy sauce (soybeans, wheat, salt), beef extract, flavor, caramel color, citric acid, lactic acid, lypolyzed cream, [butter, nonfat milk solids, xanthan gum]), butterfat, brown sugar syrup, garlic puree, seasoning, (flavor ,sugar, salt, maltodextrin, spices, soy lecithin), spices, caramel color, salt, vanilla flavor and invert sugar, yeast extract, cultured whey, potassium chloride, carrageenan with dextrose

Contains milk, soy, wheat ingredients

After reading this, I don’t think I will be buying any processed frozen dinners again.

Most of these ingredients are safe –true, but some may be a problem if consumed in great amounts and some should be avoided completely.  There is a list of the safety of all additives found at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (some people call them the food police); however, I think it’s a helpful list if you’ve ever wandered about food additives and it does gives us some kind of guidance.  The FDA considers food poisoning more dangerous than food additives and I agree.  At least the recall here was not this time about E. coli or Salmonella, but only red plastic particles.  I wonder what was in the red plastic.

But it does draw attention as to what exactly is in our foods.  Bon appétit!!  At least there were no preservatives.