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Tag: health effects

I like condiments. Sauces, dips, drizzles and sprinkles. Having the right agent for the right dish. Mushroom risotto is just that much more superb with a sprinkling of freshly grated Aged Parmesan. Toasted sourdough bread practically begs for a luscious and moisturizing spread of mayo. Given my affection for accoutrements (one of my favorite words as long as it’s pronounced with a French accent and optional grandiose hand gesture), it shouldn’t really come as surprise that I might have tempura sauce for, you guessed it, tempura. What sucks, though, is when you look at that Kikkoman bottle that’s been in your fridge (for, dare I say…years?) and take a glance at the ingredient label:

Ingredients: naturally brewed soy sauce (water, soybeans, salt), sugar, water, salt, vinegar, bonito extract (fish), natural flavoring, monosodium glutamate, caramel color, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, succinic acid, sodium benzoate. 

I’m not even going to start a dialogue about the possible issues of soy at this juncture, but rather stick with the other goodness that blesses this dipping agent.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) – This oldie but goodie just won’t go away. If you are wondering why your asthma is suddenly flaring up or what the deal is with your headache and heart palpitations, this flavor enhancer could be to blame.

Caramel Color – The type of caramel color generally used for soy sauce type products is prepared with heat and ammonium compounds (Caramel III). In February 2011 the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) petitioned the FDA to bar the use of caramel colorings produced with ammonia  due to the formation of two known carcinogens (2-Methylimidazole & 4-Methylimidazole). Great, now my “sauce” is going to give me cancer. At a minimum,  caramel coloring produced with ammonia needs to be labeled differently so consumers will know which type of caramel coloring was used.

Sodium Benzoate – This extremely popular preservative may also exacerbate asthma and in animal studies there are reports of liver and kidney issues. It has also been linked to hyperactivity.

Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate – On their own, these two additives are somewhat benign. They are not doing you any favors, but probably not going to kill you. However, I bring them up because they are virtually exclusively used in conjunction with MSG. If you see these two culprits, put the object back on the shelf and walk away.

Clearly this tempura dipping sauce is not something any self-respecting, co-founder of a food additive database website should have anywhere near her fridge. Yet, it was. I consider myself on notice. Check your refrigerators, especially those condiment containers that seem to last forever) and pantries for gems like these. Then, take great pride in chucking them. This is 2012 my friends and it is time to make the commitment to ditching the pseudo food.

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

Image: Vinni/Flickr

Yesterday, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) formally petitioned the US Food and Drug Administration to change legislation on a very popular additive, caramel coloring. Specifically, CSPI requested that the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status for caramel coloring produced with ammonia be revoked:

“…request the Commissioner of Food and Drugs to revoke sections 21 CFR 73.85 and 21 CFR 182.1235 (generally recognized as safe or ‘GRAS’ regulation),… which authorize the use in foods of caramel colorings that are produced by means of an ammonia or ammonia-sulfite process and contain 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, both of which are carcinogenic in animal studies.”

This includes Caramel Coloring III (used in soy sauce, gravy, beer) and Caramel Coloring IV (used in beverages and colas), both of which are produced with ammonia. In the petition, CSPI indicates that reactions occur when carbohydrates and ammonia are used to produce caramel coloring and form by-products including 2- and 4-methylimidazole (“2-MI” and “4-MI” or “4-MEI”).  This chemical pair have been shown carcinogenic in animal studies. One interesting point that CSPI makes is that caramel coloring in soft drinks are typically used to make the soda its customary brown color. This is purely cosmetic and could be substituted with something else or omitted from drinks such as Coke and Pepsi without sacrificing much taste.

The CSPI petition also requested that the FDA change the names which are permitted for these types of caramel coloring and not allow caramel coloring in products which are labeled “natural,” due to the highly processed and chemical nature of these additives.

“… the FDA immediately should change the name ‘caramel coloring’ to ‘chemically modified caramel coloring’ or ‘ammonia-sulfite process caramel coloring’ …and should not allow products to be labeled ‘natural’ if they contained any type of caramel coloring.”

To read the full petition from the Center for Science in the Public Interest which includes references, click here.

This information is very relevant to today’s shopper since caramel coloring is found in thousands of foods INCLUDING so called health food.  Start paying attention to this additive as you study your ingredient labels. To read a full report on the different types of caramel coloring, other possible health effects and allergy information, click here.

Sources:
Center for Science in the Public Interest

Image: Vinni via Flickr

Ingredient Spotlight: Citric Acid

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

Today’s additive is Citric Acid, which is one of the most widely used acids in the flavoring industry. It has even been used to dissolve bladder stones!

Citric Acid

Names: Sodium Citrate, E330

Uses: Flavoring, Acid, Antioxidant, Preservative, Emulsifier, Firming Agent

Found In: beverages, soda, ice cream, candy, fruit juice, wine, juice, jam, canned fruit and vegetables, frozen fruit, cheese spreads, dressings, preserves, cheese, mayonnaise

Description: Naturally occurring acid found in citrus, other fruit and coffee. Mainly derived from citrus by fermentation process of the fruit sugars. Produces a sour taste and is one of the most widely used acids in food flavoring. Used to flavor, adjust pH balance, cure meats, prevent certain flavors, firm vegetables, brighten colors and preserve food.

Possible Health Effects: In large or concentrated amounts can cause … continue reading about Citric Acid

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.

Ingredient Spotlight: Guar Gum

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

Guar Gum

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By: VirtualErn via Flickr

Names: E412, Gyamopsis Tetragonolobus, Gum Guar, Guar Flour, Guaran

Uses: Thickener, Stabilizer

Description: Extracted from the guar bean; made with the ground up guar seeds. Used as a thickener, binder, and stabilizer in a variety of foods. The guar bean plants are mainly grown in India and Pakistan. Also used as a bulk laxative.

Found In: baked goods, cereal, fruit drinks, frozen fruit, cheese spread, dressing, jelly and preserves, yogurt, kefir, sauces, ice cream

Possible Health Effects: If consumed in large quantities or without enough water, may swell and cause throat blockage. As with many fiber products, may cause flatulence and abdominal cramping…read more on Guar Gum.

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: VirtualErn

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

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In recent news, this popular food additive was found to be effective against the common cold and the H1N1 flu virus!

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Carrageenan

Names: Ammonium Carrageenan, Calcium Carrageenan, Potassium Carrageenan, Sodium Carrageenan, Chondrus Extract, Irish Moss

Uses: Stabilizer, Texturizer, Emulsifier

E Number: E407

Found In: ice cream, chocolate milk, sherbet, jam, jelly, cheese spread, dressings, crackers, pastries, custard, evaporated milk, whipped cream, infant formula, soy milk

Description: Derived from a red seaweed by heating and converting into a gel. Used to thicken and stabilize processed foods. Also used as an emulsifier in certain products. Roughly 80% of the world’s supply comes from the Philippines. In 2007, the joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) indicated that carrageenan should be restricted in infant formula due to the gastrointestinal effects on infants.

Allergy Information: May cause allergic reaction in sensitive individuals

Possible Health Effects: In  animal studies, results indicated that when carrageenan was subject to high temperatures…read more on Carrageenan.

Copyright July 2, 2010 Be Food Smart, Updated December 20, 2010

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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.

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.