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Tag: sodium benzoate

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.

Remember Real Housewives of New York City’s, Bethenny Frankel? Apparently, this reality TV star now has her own line of cocktail drinks called Skinnygirl. AccessHollywood reported last week that Whole Foods was pulling Frankel’s Skinnygirl Margaritas from their stores after learning that the cocktail contained a preservative. In a statement to AccessHollywood, Whole Foods said:

“After discovering that [Skinnygirl Margarita] contains a preservative that does not meet our quality standards, we have had to stop selling it.”

The Skinnygirl website does not include the ingredients in their products, but I was able to find a picture of the ingredient label on FitSugar:

WATER, BLUE AGAVE TEQUILA, AGAVE NECTAR, CITRIC ACID, NATURAL FLAVOUR, SUGAR, SODIUM BENZOATE

At first, it looks okay. 7 ingredients is a pretty low number and it is thankfully free of artificial flavors, colors and sweeteners. But….and that is a big but (no pun intended), like virtually every pre-mixed cocktail,  it does contain a preservative.  So, what’s the big deal? Here are the possible health effects from consuming sodium benzoate:

“May exacerbate asthma, hyperactive behavior (when consumed in products with certain food colorings), and cause skin rash upon contact. A study in 2007 indicated that it may cause serious cell damage associated with cirrhosis of the liver, ageing, and Parkinson’s disease. In animal studies, there are reports of possible weight gain, liver and kidney issues, and birth defects.”

Be Food Smart Sodium Benzoate Report

Sodium benzoate is found in thousands of foods and beverages and is very difficult to
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The check arrived after a decent Chinese dinner of Egg Foo Young and Stir Fry Vegetables. As is customary these days, the paper check was buried under a pile of individually wrapped fortune cookies.  My 3-year old’s eyes greatly enlarged as she realized the noisy packages were filled with dessert. I let her select her cookie and explained why there was an itty bitty piece of paper inside. This was my fortune:

You will take a chance in something in the near future.
Daily Numbers 0, 3, 9.  Lotto Six #’s 22, 43, 11, 13, 4, 27

As I crumbled up the wrapper, I noticed that the ingredients were listed in small red lettering.

INGREDIENTS: Flour, Sugar, Water, Hydrogenated Vegetable Shortening, Margarine, Corn Starch, FD&C Yellow 5 & 6, FD&C Red #40, Citric Acid and Preserved with Sodium Benzoate.

I know it’s dessert, but this cookie barely has one redeeming ingredient to it’s name. It’s really just refined white flour mixed with sugar, trans fats, colors and preservatives. It’s funny to me that they have to add 3 different types of artificial colorings to achieve that “baked brown” look. I wonder what color the cookie would be without it.

My fortune is quite amusing and accurate. I’m taking a chance with my health just by eating the cookie! In fairness, one fortune cookie is not going to kill you, but understand you’re eating crap, even if it does come in a decorative package with lotto number suggestions.

Image: Ksayer1 via Flickr

If that soda can had a warning label which stated “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children,” would you give it to your child? This is the decision parents in the European Union (EU) now have. After numerous studies indicated that artificial food dyes caused behavioral and hyperactivity issues in children, the EU finally took action. On July 20, 2010 new food coloring legislation went into effect in the EU which requires special labeling of foods containing six colorants.

Here are the six offending dyes:

In the US, it is very difficult to avoid consuming synthetic food dyes. Virtually every type of brightly colored candy contains food coloring as does soda, sports drinks, cereals, packaged snacks and most medication designed for children.  Food colorings in general, whether artificial or natural, have one thing in common: They are added to the food ONLY to make it look more appealing. Now, I try to avoid processed snacks and junk food as best I can, but throw a few Red Vines, gummy sour watermelons, or Peanut M&Ms in my line of sight and watch my willpower crumble.
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