Chemicals in Our Food?
Ever wonder why certain foods have that great aroma? Or why certain delectable delights look and taste so scrumptious?
You'll find that the food in most fast food restaurants and famous brand named products contain chemicals that earn them the title of
being "processed." They are made to lure the consumer, and they vary from French-fries to dried foods to breads and baked products.
Some foods that lack taste or color are injected with additives that give them the
flavors which make the products seem
"healthy," when in reality they're just a
mixture of scientists' chemicals to give
artificial smell and taste.
Facts like this may seem hidden by the
food companies that do not want to
reveal the truth, but a consumer needs
only a little bit of persistence in order
to find important information that's
right under their noses.
A good information starter is in Eric Schlosser's bestselling book, "Fast Food Nation." Schlosser states the origin of processed foods, which came about at the
beginning of World War II, when farmer
and entrepreneur J.R. Simplot began
adehydrating company for drying potatoes soon after starting "the golden age of processed foods" in the 1950s as more families began owning iceboxes.
TV dinners and other products such as "Cheese Whiz" and "Miracle-Whip" began the trend of processed foods, becoming all the rage with advertisements claiming that processed foods were better than natural foods.
Ever since then, foods have become processed to taste delicious. Yet some companies never reveal what makes those foods so delicious, citing only that it is a "secret recipe." Schlosser's book describes a visit to a laboratory where groups of scientists can form additives that taste like ice cream, grapes, potato chips and smell like comfort foods that will induce childhood memories to make consumers crave a certain company's
hamburgers and shakes.
According to Schlosser, about 90 percent of food in the United State is processed.
At any McDonald's, a framed nutritional chart is hung on a side wall away from the menus and tempting picture ads. On the bottom of this chart, in tiny font, is a warning from the Food and Drug Administration stating that a certain chemical called acrylamide is used in the French-fries and coffees.
The warning states that this chemical
may cause cancer to humans when consumed.
Anyone who goes to the McDonald's website will have a tough time trying to find out this information. However, there is a large amount of information on the FDA website on the chemical acrylamide.
There you'll find information on a 2002 study conducted in Sweden which concluded that when certain types of food are chemically processed at high temperatures, acrylamide is found to lead to cancer in lab rats. Research has led to the conclusion that it may cause nerve damage to people exposed to high levels of the chemical.
Not enough research has been done on whether it is a leading factor in cancers in humans,
so it is only stated as a potential risk to
A list on the FDA website shows all the foods that are processed with the chemical acrylamide. The list states every range of food from Gerber's Baby Food to McDonald's and Burger King French-fries, M & M's, "Count
Chocula" cereal as well as certain brands of coffee. The list is endless.
For those who grow weary of the vast information on the slightly confusing FDA website, the Center for Science in the Public Interest's Food Safety website provides a more summarized list of all the chemicals and additives that are put in our food products, as well as up-to-date information on studies made on those chemicals, the leads to diseases and cancers found in those studies, the additives that are healthy for consumption or hazardous
to a person's health, and how the FDA states whether they are a hazard or only a potential hazard.
Another chemical that stands out is Monosodium Glutamate, or MSG, which is used to bring flavor to certain foods like soups and salad dressings. After research found that MSG destroys nerve cells in the brain and is very sensitive to some people, causing them headaches and changes in heart rate, the FDA ordered for MSG to be cut back,
but it is still in use today.
Sodium benzoate or benzoic acid and ascorbic acid is another famous chemical which is put in favorite sodas like Diet Coke, Dr. Pepper, Sunkist Orange Soda, fruit
punches like Hawaiian Punch and Kool-Aid,
or energy drinks like Rock Star and Monster.
These drinks contain a chemical called
Benzene, which is a carcinogen.
Although undetected before 2005, this chemical, which is also used as an additive
in gasoline and used as a solvent to make
dyes and synthetic rubber and is linked
to leukemia, is put into soft drinks.
Because of cancer findings in 2006 by scientists, the FDA pressured many of the
soft drink companies to lower the amount of
benzene levels in their products, but again,
benzene is still used in certain sodas today.
Propyl gallate, an antioxidant preservative
used in meat products and chewing gum, and
quinine, a flavoring component for tonic
water and the product Canada Dry, have been poorly tested. Even as such, scientists have found that propyl gallate may cause cancer and that quinine might lead to birth defects.
These soft drink companies, food companies and fast food corporations have all denied that these chemicals are harmful, starting their own research labs and findings to prove that the discoveries of other scientists are wrong.
Though some consumers may be ignorant as to what they eat, it is best to check the facts and maybe reconsider that diet coke and fries.