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What to look for in Food Ingredient Lists

What familiar food is this???

Enriched Flour, Wheat Flour, Niacinamide , Reduced Iron , Thiamin Mononitrate - Vitamin B1 , Riboflavin - Vitamin B2 , Folic Acid , Corn Syrup , High Fructose Corn Syrup , Dextrose , Vegetable Oil , Soybean Oil , Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil - with TBHQ and Citric Acid for Freshness - Less than 0.5 g Trans Fat per Serving , Sugar , Cracker Meal , Wheat Starch, Salt, Dried Strawberries, Dried Apples, Dried Pears, Cornstarch , Leavening, Baking Soda, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate, Citric Acid, Milled Corn, Modified Wheat Starch, Gelatin, Caramel Color, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed O - Less than 0.5 g Trans Fat per Serving, Modified Corn Starch, Xanthan Gum, Soy Lecithin, Color Added, Niacinamide, Reduced Iron, Red No. 40, Vitamin A Palmitate, Yellow No. 6 Pyridoxine Hydrochloride - Vitamin B6, Riboflavin - Vitamin B2, Thiamin Hydrochloride - Vitamin B1, Folic Acid, Turmeric Color, Blue No. 1


Of course the best way to be sure that you are not eating nasty toxic stuff is to eat whole foods, organic when possible, and to wash them well before eating them. If you are going to eat processed food, see if you can spot these ingredients before you buy, and seek an alternative if the food you normally purchase has one of these nasties in it. This list is in progress: feel free to argue with me or suggest other food additives to avoid. And this list does not cover all the nasty additives that are put into lotions, makeup and sunscreen to be absorbed through the skin. That's a whole different list.

--Sodium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrite (E221) (carcinogen?, causes anemia in infants, used as preservative/coloring/flavoring in processed meats including bacon, ham, hot dogs, lunch meat, smoked fish, and corned beef)(also sodium nitrite in wine)
--BHA and BHT, aka Butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydrozyttoluene (synthetic antioxidants, used to prevent rancidification of cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, and vegetable oil)
--Propyl Gallate (possible carcinogen, preservative commonly used with BHA and BHT, can be found in meat products, chicken soup base, and chewing gum)
--MSG aka Monosodium Glutamate (damages nerve cells in baby mice, causes headaches/nausea in humans, is an amino acid that enhances flavor because it binds to our 5th--recently discovered--kind of tastebud that detects and likes MEAT. It is found in soups, salad dressings, chips, frozen entrees, and restaurant food.
--Trans Fats (cause heart disease, often found in restaurant food esp fast food and in some junk food still)(includes 2/3 of soybean oils)
--Aspartame (no proof yet of causation, but many people think it causes cancer and neurological issues such as dizziness/headache. Seen as brand names Nutrasweet and Equal. Sweetener for low-calorie desserts, gelatins, drink mixes, and soft drinks)
--Acesulfame-K (may cause cancer in rats, not much research yet, this is a new artificial sweetener found in baked goods, chewing gum, and gelatin desserts.
--Food Colorings: Blue 1, 2; Red 3; Green 3; Yellow 6 (cause hyperactivity and distraction in children, cancer in mice, bladder, adrenal and kidney cancer in humans, found in beverages, candy, baked goods, pet food, cherries, fruit cocktail, sausage, gelatin)
--Olestra (may cause diarrhea, abodminal cramps, gas, inhibits vitamin absortion from fat incl carotenoids, is a a synthetic fat found in some potato chips)
--Potassium Bromate (highly carcinogenic, additive to increase volume in white flour products.)
--High Fructose Corn Syrup (worse than sugar, #1 source of calories in America)
--Sodium Benzoate (E211, preservative, causes hyperactivity and distractability in children) (ALSO: Sunset yellow (E110), Quinoline yellow (E104), Carmoisine (E122), Tartrazine (E102), Ponceau 4R (E124) ,Allura red AC (E129))
--Soybean oil (besides being hydrogenated this has isoflavone levels that interfere with natural hormones, and interfere with thyroid and immune function)
--Soy protein isolate (the ubiquitous low carb filler that is in all those energy bars and "healthy" diet foods, blocks nutrient absorbtion and causes allergies and autoimmune problems)


Food Colors May be as Damaging as Lead in Gasoline on Children’s Brains
The British magazine The Independent on April 5 2008, reported that artificial food colors (but not the preservative sodium benzoate) are now set to be removed from hundreds of products in the UK because the results of the study mentioned above also indicate that the E-numbers do as much damage to children's brains as lead in gasoline, resulting in a significant reduction in IQ.

The lead author, Professor Stevenson, and his three colleagues have stated:

"The position in relation to AFCs [Artificial Food Colors] is analogous to the state of knowledge about lead and IQ that was being evaluated in the early 1980s ... Needleman [a researcher] found the difference in IQ between high and low lead groups was 5.5 IQ points ... This is very close to the sizes obtained in our study of food additives."

Officials at the British FSA are advising the food industry to voluntarily remove the six food dyes named in the study by the end of 2009, and replace them with natural alternatives if possible.

True to form, the food industry claims the additives are used in a mere “handful” of products, but the website ActionOnAdditives.com has already identified more than 1,000 food products that contain them – most of which are targeted at children.

BEWARE -- Already Banned Food Additives Still Found in Children’s Medicines

Another thing you need to be aware of, as a parent, is that when an ingredient is banned for use in food, it is not automatically banned for use in other areas such as medicine.

According to an expose’ by the British Food Commission last year, food additives that have already been banned for use in food and beverages are still used in a majority of pediatric over-the-counter medicines.

Their survey found that ALL BUT ONE medicine out of 41 contained an additive that had been banned.

The additives found in these drugs included:
Synthetic azo dyes
Maltitol and sorbitol
Benzoate and sulphite preservatives
The justification for using these toxic compounds is what you'd typically expect from an over-the-counter pharmaceutical trade group: Unlike foods, additives in medicines are used in small quantities and are only taken for a short time.



( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 24th, 2008 03:48 pm (UTC)
Ugh, that is just disgusting. You could not pay me to eat a pop-tart. Or most any processed food item, actually.

No wonder we (people in the U.S.) are so ill.
Jun. 24th, 2008 03:59 pm (UTC)
A friend of mine who recently visited Portland actually ate them at my house, and I am pleased to report that I had no desire. He even sent me a picture of himself eating a big slimy pastry. I used to eat those, and now they just seem revolting. He's a new friend on my journal, so the poptart ingredients were partly for him! Heh. Any thoughts about other stuff we might not want to eat???
Jun. 24th, 2008 04:43 pm (UTC)
Cereal, of any sort, other than whole-grain such as oatmeal. They put cereals through a wide variety of processing including high heat and extrusion under extreme pressure, which radically changes the molecular structure. I truly believe it is a non-food. In the book Beating the Food Giants the author tells of a study where rats were fed strictly cereal and water and they died within a couple of weeks (at least I think it's in this book; either way it is a good read).

Actually when I think about it, I avoid just about everything in the middle of the store. I shop the produce, meat and dairy, and that is about it.
Jun. 24th, 2008 11:40 pm (UTC)
I agree about the cereals. I don't even eat oatmeal anymore (has gluten in it) so when I go shopping my basket is full of whole foods and nothing else. Oh, I take it back, I still eat chocolate. =-]
Jun. 24th, 2008 04:28 pm (UTC)
"Sodium Nitrate aka Sodium Nitrite" - From what I remember of organic chemistry class, nitrites and nitrates aren't the same thing. But maybe they can so easily be converted to one another enough so that they can be treated as the same thing?

"BHA and BHT" - I've actually heard a theory that these two are healthy. I don't eat them myself, but I do know of people who eat them as supplements, because they're powerful anti-oxidants and may explain why people in the US get so little stomach cancer compared with other areas (because we use more of these than other countries). They're even being investigated as treatments for AIDS, last I heard.

I agree that the rest of them should be avoided though.
Jun. 24th, 2008 10:56 pm (UTC)
nitrate & nitrite notes
You're right, nitrite & nitrate are different and interconvertible. Nitrate is NO3- and nitrite is NO2-. Nitrate is formed in human metabolism by the oxidation of ammonia. Nitrite is easily oxidized to nitrate. Nitrate is not dangerous unless it is reduced to nitrite.

Nitrate is found in groundwater and surface waters. Fertilizers often contain nitrates. Cauliflower, spinach, collard greens, broccoli, and root vegetables contain nitrates, though not as high as meats to which nitrates are added as a preservative. Several medications are known to cause nitrate/nitrite toxicity, including quinone derivatives (antimalarials), nitroglycerine, bismuth subnitrite (antidiarrheal), ammonium nitrate (diuretic), amyl and sodium nitrites (antidotes for cyanide and hydrogen sulfide poisoning), and isosorbide dinitrate/tetranitrates (vasodilators used in coronary artery disease therapy). Ammonium nitrate is in cold packs and nitrous gases are used in welding.

There are many sources of exposure beyond these, but it is generally agreed that nitrate is a dangerous pollutant and nitrite is toxic. Sodium nitrite is routinely added to foods such as hot dogs, bacon, or ham, and those foods should be avoided.

Nitrites are also formed by bacteria (such as nitrosomas) which are called nitrifiers. Nitrite poisoning causes anemia (methemoglobinemia, "blue baby disease") because the nitrites bind to hemoglobin and reduce oxygen carrying capacity, predominantly affecting infants and children.

Biofilms are layers of bacteria that may coat various surfaces ranging from catheters to the insides of pipes. Water pollution from these organisms forming biofilm in water pipes is asource of nitrites. Injecting ozone removes nitrites from water, which is why high end water filtration systems brag about their ozone capacity.

Here's one company I found online that sells ozone generators: http://www.lenntech.com/ozone.htm

Of particular interest to me is that sodium nitrite (E221) is used as a preservative in wines. It is used to sterilise fermentation equipment and food containers, and for its antimicrobial properties. E221 is not used on meat, cereals and dairy products because it destroys thiamine content. I do not have proof, but I believe this is the reason that legally imported and US-made wines give me headaches. French wines consumed in France do not make me ill at all.
Jun. 24th, 2008 11:12 pm (UTC)
BHA and BHT are fat soluble synthetic antioxidants, added to foods to prevent lipids from being oxidized (turning rancid). BHA is butylated hydroxyanisole and BHT is butylated hydroxytoluene. BHA and BHT are also used to preserve fats and oils in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. They are both FDA approved.

BHA is found in butter, meats, cereals, chewing gum, baked goods, snack foods, dehydrated potatoes, beer, animal feed, food packaging, cosmetics, rubber products & petroleum products.

BHT is in many packaging materials, and in shortening, cereals, and other foods containing fats and oils.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (part of the World Health Organization) says BHA may be carcinogenic. The State of California has listed it as a carcinogen. Some studies show the same cancer causing possibilities for BHT.

It has been suggested that BHA and BHT serve as antioxidants in a human, same as in a product, and thus they may combat oxidative stress. Some people have trouble metabolizing BHA and BHT, affecting their health and behavior.

It has also been suggested that BHA and BHT could have antiviral and antimicrobial activities, and apparently there is research in process with regard to the efficacy of BHT for treating AIDS and Herpes simplex. I suspect that these researchers have ties to the manufacturers of the product, and until the research plays out, I would recommend that people use natural rather than synthetic antioxidants for their health. Eat berries and citrus.

As for the reason that Americans get less gastric cancer than the rest of the world, it is because we have electricity and home refrigeration. We eat more fresh meat and less salted/chemically-treated meat than the rest of the world.

An interesting school project on preservatives: http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/webprojects2001/anderson/preservatives.htm

Thanks for the comment and the impetus to learn more.
Jun. 24th, 2008 04:29 pm (UTC)
You also forgot one -- soybean oil. That was in the Pop Tart and pretty dangerous too.

Edited at 2008-06-24 04:29 pm (UTC)
Jun. 24th, 2008 11:33 pm (UTC)
soybean oil added to list
OK, I'm working on why soybean oil is so bad. My last understanding was that the worst soy product is TVP (textured vegetable protein) because it is so contaminated from processing, but I have ceased to eat any soy at all in the last few years, and stopped studying it too.

I know that soy is a very common allergen, and that the US grows more soybeans than any other country on the planet. Two thirds of soybean oils in use are hydrogenated and so form trans fatty acids which we know are bad. Soy has been shown to interfere with the thyroid and immune system.

Soy is absolutely not to be fed to infants in formula, as it doubles the risk of goiters and autoimmune disease. Soy formulas often have high manganese levels which is harmful to infant brains and may cause ADHD. Also, the high isoflavone levels in soy products are associated with earlier puberty rates in girls in developed countries. I read that 1% of girls show signs of puberty at age 3!!

Here's a soy product manufacturer promoting their product: http://www.soya.be/soybean-oil.php

Here's my favorite online doc on soy oil: he recommends using coconut oil, which I do: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2006/03/04/wake-up-america-even-improved-soybean-oil-isnt-good-for-you.aspx
Jun. 24th, 2008 11:41 pm (UTC)
Re: soybean oil added to list
I think Mercola is mixed, a lot of what he says is fine, but sometimes he promotes a particular type of product for financial reasons / ties to the manufacturer (e.g. krill oil), and at other times he uses fallacious arguments (e.g arguing that microwave use is unsafe because if you microwave blood, as one nurse did accidentally, and then try to put it in a patient it will harm the patient). He also tends to say that if anything is unnatural it's automatically bad, which although is generally the case isn't a universal rule that applies to 100% of cases -- there are plenty of natural foods that are more harmful than artificial foods (e.g. poison mushrooms are worse than Pop Tarts), and he tends to recommend against vitamin usage except in rare cases.

Edited at 2008-06-24 11:41 pm (UTC)
Jun. 24th, 2008 11:48 pm (UTC)
Re: soybean oil added to list
Agreed that Mercola is now in the business of also selling products with his website....the transition from purity to commerciality was a little hard to take, but I remain convinced that he has our best interests at heart and that he would not promote a product that he does not fully believe in for good scientific reasons. He also tends to be 2-5 years ahead of everybody else when it comes to noticing trends or predicting that certain products or practices may not be as good/bad for us as previously thought. I take everything with a grain of salt---you have to these days---and I have a great deal of respect for this particular doc.

Thinking of BHA and BHT---OK, so they're antioxidants, synthetic, could be good for you in that antioxidant way....and yet there are natural antioxidants out there, like what's in fruit, so why bother eating synthetic ones? I guess I side with him in that department too. All else being equal, I'll choose a food that we evolved with over a supplement that was cooked up in a lab.
Jun. 25th, 2008 12:04 am (UTC)
Re: soybean oil added to list
The reasoning the people who take those give is that they're so much stronger than the natural ones that it's worth it. From what I remember, something like 1000x as strong.

Also, humans did not evolve with most of the food we eat today. We evolved in Africa, we didn't evolve to eat 99% of the fruits and vegetables that we eat today, we evolved to eat the fruits and vegetables of Africa. So I think it's a mistake to say we evolved to eat natural foods in general, we only evolved to eat specific natural foods.
Jun. 25th, 2008 12:11 am (UTC)
Re: soybean oil added to list
Yes, I understand your point that it is not easy to even know what to eat if you're trying to eat more like what the humans that preceded you ate. But it is guaranteed that they didn't eat chemistry projects, they ate living things. I feel secure that eating live plants and animals is healthier than eating things that have been modified and packaged. And I do make the attempt to understand where MY people came from and what sort of lives they lived, because that gives me a clue what sort of fuel this body may run best on.

We are one of only a very few species that do not make our own vitamin C. It makes sense to me that we lost that metabolic pathway because we had good dietary sources of vitamin C. I can't vouch for the relative strength of blueberries/citrus vs BHAm but I know for sure that we did not evolve eating BHA. Also there probably are other metabolic effects from eating new synthetic substances that have not yet come to light.
Jun. 25th, 2008 12:29 am (UTC)
Re: soybean oil added to list
That's true, but I still think it should only be a rule of thumb rather than an ideology. Also, people in the past didn't live very long -- granted it was mostly infectious diseases, but still. Durk Pearson (one of the few people to take the FDA to court over health freedom and win) once said something like "if you only eat naturally, don't expect to live very long". I remember that one of the oldest people who ever lived said she ate a lot of chocolate (two pounds a week) and olive oil; she also smoked, and only quit at 119 -- none of those (even the olive oil) is very natural.
Jun. 25th, 2008 12:36 am (UTC)
Re: soybean oil added to list
Actually I just checked and he apparently lost the case, I may be misremembering there. http://web.archive.org/web/20001119132200/http://www.dcd.uscourts.gov/95cv1865.html
Jun. 25th, 2008 01:57 am (UTC)
Re: soybean oil added to list
I get your angle. You think Mercola is ideological about his emphasis on natural healing, and perhaps that I am too? I will restrain myself from being offended. There is not much that I believe in, but I do believe that part of the reason that our people are so sickly is because we have strayed too far from a diet of natural whole foods. I do not agree with your implicit assertion that it is irrelevant. Those individuals who live to be very old have certain things in common, and lots of research has been done on them which I will not repeat here. Suffice it to say that the greatgrandma who ate chocolate and smoked cigarettes probably also ate lots of whole natural foods and did not consume the junk foods that many Americans subsist on today. I do not know the reason for your resistance to the idea of "natural" being healthy and good, but I detect that you have quite a bit of resistance. Perhaps a parent drove you nuts trying to make you eat your veggies?
Jun. 25th, 2008 02:32 am (UTC)
Re: soybean oil added to list
Haha, being offended is for kids, we're too old for that :D

I don't think anyone who lived to be 120+ could eat processed foods much (because they didn't exist for much of their lifetime), so it's hard to say, there's no basis of comparison there.

I've no resistance, I eat primarily natural unprocessed foods. The most-processed food I eat is probably hummus. I just think it's a bad habit to fall into thinking that natural is necessarily better.
Jun. 24th, 2008 08:46 pm (UTC)
So what flavor were they? :D
Jun. 24th, 2008 11:22 pm (UTC)
No idea. I swiped the ingredient list instead of typing it in myself...didn't have a package on hand.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )



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