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Tag: additive

On a recent trip, a friend brought out these individual servings of Mott’s Original Applesauce for all the kids. My daughter loves applesauce and eagerly waited for me to open it. We always purchase applesauce with no sugar added and I forgot that many brands contain added sweeteners. When I glanced at the label, I noticed that this particular brand had high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) listed as the second ingredient. This is a perfect example of an unnecessary additive.

I don’t know about you, but I find apples plenty sweet on their own. Instead of enjoying the natural sweetness of nature’s bounty, kids get used to artificially sweetened food and start to “need” their food to be ultra-sweetened. Luckily, my friend had also purchased Mott’s Granny Smith Applesauce for the moms and, surprise, it contained NO added sugar or HFCS. There are many brands of applesauce that only contain apples and vitamin C (prevents the applesauce from browning). They taste great and kids will be spared the added sugars and empty calories. You can also make your own applesauce; check out these recipes from Devine Health and The Salad Girl.

Exercise:

Look in your fridge and pantry and start reading labels. Search for foods containing added sweeteners (especially HFCS and chemical sweeteners). Next time you go shopping, try switching out your normal brand with a version that does not contain added sweeteners. There are thousands of foods with added sweeteners, but here are some common ones to start with: applesauce, fruit juice, jam/jelly, salad dressing, breakfast cereal, peanut butter, dried fruit, yogurt, syrup (only buy real maple syrup), canned fruit, and pasta sauce. While you’re looking to make the switch, consider a certified organic variety too! You’ll get the added benefit of no pesticides or genetically modified ingredients.

Note: Beware of “sugar-free” products. This means that the product does not contain cane or beet sugar, but instead, likely contains a chemical sweetener such as aspartame, acesulfame potassium or saccharin. Be Food Smart does NOT recommend consuming any of these artificial sweeteners.

New legislation is being considered in Europe with regards to the popular chemical sweetener, aspartame. The proposal would require warning labels on products containing aspartame stating that they may not be suitable for pregnant women. Specifically, the label would read: “Contains aspartame (a source of phenylalanine; might be unsuitable for pregnant women).”

The push to enact this labeling stems from two new aspartame studies. The first is a Danish study (Halldorsson et al., 2010) which examined the association between consuming artificially sweetened soft drinks and preterm delivery. The study concluded that, “Daily intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks may increase the risk of preterm delivery…” The second, was an Italian study (Soffritti et al., 2010) which confirmed that aspartame is a carcinogenic agent in both male mice and rats (the same group conducted other rodent/aspartame studies in 2006 and 2007 both of which concluded that aspartame is a carcinogen). Despite the outcomes of these two new studies, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and France’s Agency for Food Safety maintain aspartame is safe and that warning labels are not needed.

Why is it that most government policies basically say, prove to us that the additive is harmful, when it should instead be, prove to us that this additive is safe? Even if research is conducted proving an ingredient safe, new studies should be viewed as equally important in determining if an ingredient continues to be safe. Technology changes, new advances are made, larger and more extensive studies are conducted. I suppose I should be impressed that any arm of a government is supporting adding warning labels since we, here in the US, are nowhere near the European levels of consumer food protection. Instead, I find myself wondering how many more studies it will take before aspartame is treated like a harmful chemical not suited for human consumption.

Sources:

Food Navigator
European Food Safety Authority
BFS Aspartame Ingredient Report

Image: David Salafia via Flickr

Castoreum (that’s short for beaver anal gland by the way) makes an appearance on the David Letterman show when guest, Jamie Oliver, discusses food additives. We have a detailed ingredient report on Castoreum that you can read here. If you want to avoid this ingredient, it may be difficult. Castoreum doesn’t have to show on an ingredient list, it can simply say ‘Natural Flavor.’ Enjoy the video below.

Ingredient Spotlight: Xylitol

This Ingredient Spotlight is a regular feature from Be Food Smart. Check back regularly to see new ingredients.

Xylitol

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via Flickr: jkivinenUses:

Sweetener, Humectant

Description:

A naturally occurring sweetener found in fruit such as berries and corn husks. Can be extracted from corn fibers, but typically made from birch wood or waste products from the pulp industry.

Additional Information:

Commonly used in food products that stay in mouth for an extended period such as mints and gum. It does not ferment in the mouth and has been reported to reduce tooth decay. May also be effective in preventing ear infections. Toxic in small amounts to dogs.

Found In:

chewing gum, mints, candy, cough drops, jams, jellies, low-calorie food, food specifically marketed towards diabetics

Possible Health Effects:

In high amounts can cause diarrhea, …read more on Xylitol

Related Ingredients: Gum Arabic, Guaiac Gum

Copyright August 8, 2010 Be Food Smart

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Be Food Smart was created to educate and inform the public about what’s really in the foods we eat every day. The site has a huge database of food additives, chemicals, food colorings, sweeteners, and preservatives and allows one to search for over 400 ingredient names. Our unique ingredient reports contain simple and easy to understand descriptions, alternate names, possible health effects, and allergy information. The site is completely free and is a wonderful resource for parents, teachers, health care professionals, dietitians, and concerned consumers.

Image: jkivinen

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Unhealthy additives find our way into almost every imaginable food. Last week, my husband purchased this spice jar of garlic powder for a recipe without looking at the ingredient list (you’d think I’d have him trained better considering he lives with me!). I happened to take a peek and this is what I saw:

Lawry’s Garlic Powder, Coarse Ground with Parsley

INGREDIENTS: GARLIC, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL (COTTONSEED, SOYBEAN), PARSLEY.

So they’ve basically taken something as simple as powdered garlic and added unnecessary and harmful trans fats. Remember, ingredients are listed in order of weight, so this means there is more hydrogenated oil in this jar than parsley. Not quite what I had in mind for dinner.

Moral of this story? Never assume something simple will be free from additives and preservatives. There are many other brands which only contain garlic and parsley, so read the label and shop smart!

Back Label

This Ingredient Spotlight is a regular feature from Be Food Smart. Check back daily to see the ingredient of the day.

ANY CHARACTER HERE

Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)

E Number: E320

Uses: Antioxidant, Preservative

Found In: lard, instant mashed potatoes, ice cream, baked goods, dry dessert mixes, shortening, cereal, potato flakes

Description: Petroleum-derived preservative which helps to prevent spoilage due to oxidation. The US National Institutes of Health states that BHA is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals.” Banned in Japan.

Possible Health Effects: Evidence of causing cancer in experimental…Read more on BHA.

Related Ingredients: BHT, TBHQ

Copyright May 20, 2010 Be Food Smart

Be Food Smart was created to educate and inform the public about what’s really in the foods we eat every day. The site has a huge database of food additives, chemicals, food colorings, sweeteners, and preservatives and allows one to search for over 400 ingredient names. Our unique ingredient reports contain simple and easy to understand descriptions, alternate names, possible health effects, and allergy information. The site is completely free and is a wonderful resource for parents, teachers, health care professionals, dietitians, and concerned consumers.