Additives: Look Before You Eat
Part 1: Introduction
Food is an important part of a balanced diet.
Everything that exists is a chemical.
All foods are chemicals.
All foods are safe.
Food additives are chemicals.
Therefore, all additives are safe.
You walk into a supermarket. On the delicatessen counter there are some sausages whose label reads: 'not less than 100% meat'; in other words, there is nothing in them other than meat. But it also reads: 'contains herbs, preservative and colour' so, quite obviously, it must be less than 100% meat . It works like this. Say you have 5 lbs of raw meat, but after cooking it, its weight has dropped to 4 lbs. The law allows you to make up that other lb. with a cheap filler. You now have 5 lbs of the mixture and, because it weighs the same as the original meat, you can call it 100% meat!
Asking my butcher the same question elicited a different answer. He told me that it did not mean that the whole product is 100% meat, merely that the meat that is in it is 100% meat. My local Trading Standards Department confirmed that the supermarket manager's answer was the correct one. These two answers show that even the trade is not sure what the law means. But either way, it is a fraud — and it's legal.
Once upon a time, most of the population lived close to the land. They either had a few poultry or a pig and grew their own food, or they bought it from a neighbour whom they knew. Then came the shift from the land to living in towns and food for the urban populations was brought in from specialist businesses. The consumer didn't know the producer, and if there was a choice, he tended to buy the cheaper product. Producers, to compete, had to find ways to cut costs; but unscrupulous ones had already found ways to reduce costs to enhance their profit margins. To reduce the production costs of a loaf of bread, bakers fraudulently added such things as chalk, sawdust, and pipe clay. Used tea-leaves were collected from hotels, taken to factories and 'recycled'. The once-used leaves were dried carefully with other dried leaves from the hedgerows added, and then coloured with anything which came to hand so that they looked new. From staples such as bread, cheese and beer, to the more upmarket wines and coffee, all were adulterated. The situation became so bad that it became almost impossible to buy real, pure food. The populations of the towns were so far removed from the producers that they could do nothing about it.
In 1820 an analytical chemist, Frederick Accum, wrote a book which became a best-seller. Entitled Treatise on the Adulterations of Food and Culinary Poisons , and with the skull and crossbones on the cover, the book told of the widespread fraud in food manufacture. It heralded the start of a campaign by Accum, together with the editor of the Lancet , Thomas Wakley and a number of others, which went on for over half a century, in an attempt to get government to legislate against such fraud.
Governments dithered while the manufacturers claimed that what they put in their products enhanced the taste or made it last longer or that was the way the public liked it or if they didn't, it would have to be too expensive for people to buy. But Accum and his fellow campaigners won finally when legislation was enacted in 1875 in the form of the Sale of Food and Drugs Act which made it illegal to sell food which was not 'of the nature, substance or quality of the article demanded'. Based on the 1875 act, the 1984 the Food Act added strength to it by making it an offence to 'add any substance to food, use any substance as an ingredient in the preparation of food, abstract any constituent from food, or subject food to any other process or treatment, so as to render the food injurious to health'. Manufacturers and retailers had to comply with the Trades Descriptions Act food labelling regulations and it was an offence to sell any food which was not of the nature, substance or quality demanded.
Unfortunately compositional standards and minimum meat contents regulations for a large range of meat products were removed at the same time. Despite improvements in labelling, Trading Standards Officers found that the meat content of 22 products had dropped dramatically from an average of forty-six percent to thiry-one. One chicken in gravy product fell from a fairly respectable seventy-five percent meat, to only forty-five percent meat.
In 1990 a new Food Safety Act (FSA) became law, revoking certain aspects of the 1984 Act. It was an important statement of government policy and was billed as the answer to the problems which have been discussed. This Act, which is criminal rather than civil law, covers fair trading as well as safety. Under the FSA, food has to be what YOU, the consumer, expect and want it to be. In line with the 1875 act, it is an offence to sell 'any food which is not of the nature or substance or quality demanded'. (Sect.14). It is also an offence to give a false or misleading description of a food on labels or advertising (Sect 15). If food is 'injurious to health', it is an offence under Sect. 7, and the responsibility for safety is put on the producer or seller in a new 'due diligence' clause (Sect.21). This means that they have to show that they did everything in their power to ensure that a food was alright; and that if something went wrong, it was outside their control. This due diligence clause was potentially good news for consumers as it should have encouraged food traders to review their standards and improve them, particularly as both producers and sellers of food have to ensure not only that food is safe in the short-term but also in the long-term (Sect. 7.2). Consumers can use this against producers of products with known long-term health problems.
Part 2: Can you trust the labels?
To aid the consumer, Government legislation demands that packaged food should be packed and labelled with lists of ingredients and certain nutritional data. But how helpful is this really? Before the information on a label is of use, it must be intelligible to the reader. If you don't know how the decipher the codes, and I suspect many people don't, then they are of no use at all. How often do you walk into a supermarket, pick up the packaged item of food that you are considering buying and read the ingredients on the label? More importantly, if you do read them, are you thinking food or are you thinking chemistry. What are all those E numbers and chemicals? what are they for? and why are they in there? Would you, for example, buy a product whose label declared that its ingredients were:
Raspberry Flavour Jelly Crystals: Sugar, Gelling Agents (Carrageen, Dipotassium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride), Adipic Acid, Acidity Regulator (Cream of Tartar), Flavourings, Thickener (Carboxymethylcellulose), Artificial sweetener (Sodium Saccharine), Colour (Betanin).
Raspberry Flavour Custard Powder: Cornflour, Flavourings, Colour (Cochineal).
Trifle Topping Mix: Vegetable Oil (Hydrogenated), Sugar, Emulsifiers (Propylene Glycol Monostearate, Lecithin), Modified Starch, Whey Powder, Lactose, Caseinate, Thickener (Carboxymethylcellulose), Flavourings, Colour (Beta-Carotene).
Sponge Fingers. (There are no ingredients listed for these.)
Decorations: with Colour (Cochineal). (Again, no ingredients.)
A lot of people would — and do. Those are the ingredients of a well-known Raspberry Flavour Trifle Mix. If we look at these ingredients in more detail, some appear to be foods — but are they?
Sugar and Lactose are nutritionally poor, highly refined sweeteners which cause obesity, tooth decay and diabetes.
Vegetable Oil (Hydrogenated) can be any vegetable oil, there is no way to tell which, but the word, Hydrogenated, tells that it has been hardened artificially and that it is a saturated fat laced with trans-fats. Trans fats are known to be the major dietary cause of heart disease (although saturated fats are generally, but wrongly, blamed).
Whey Powder is a cheap waste product used widely as a filler.
Modified Starch ; There is no way, from the packet label, to tell what this is. But generally it is a cheap cereal filler, to bulk the product out. Starch is a very useful bulking agent but, untreated, it is difficult to use. So scientists have devised ways of treating it with acids, alkalis and oxidising agents to make it more soluble, or heat resistant, or to give it a variety of textures. Like sugar, these modified starches are high in empty calories with little or no nutritional value.
The rest of the ingredients are largely chemicals with varying degrees of toxicity from none to such symptoms as hyperactivity, hypersensitivity, allergic reaction and even cancer. When grandma made trifles, she didn't use chemicals, her jelly contained fruit, she made custard from eggs and milk, and the topping was whipped real cream.
Through stories which occasionally appear in the media, people are becoming aware that some food additives are harmful: the yellow colouring, tartrazine (E102), for example has been shown to cause hyperactivity in children. But toxicity is only part of the additive problem. They are also there to make as big a profit for the manufacturers as possible. In many cases, those chemicals are there to defraud. And it's all legal.
The current trend for high-in-polyunsaturates margarines, followed by ever lower fat, low-fat spreads is a perfect example both of toxicity and fraud. Their toxicity and cancer-causing properties are well known but in modern margarines, with the current government backed propaganda to reduce fat intake, we also have the perfect climate for fraud. Mix the polyunsaturated margarine with cheap, nutrient-poor waste products such as skimmed milk or whey powder, or make an emulsion of it with plain water, and you have a low-fat spread. They even whip it up with air and call it something like 'lite'. It couldn't be cheaper to produce and, since its price competes with that of butter, it can be sold at a vast profit. The public is buying rubbish and paying the earth for it. I can think of no reason why anyone would want a low-fat spread, but if you do, why not merely spread butter thinner? That would be cheaper and it's a heck of a lot healthier than any margarine.
Modern margarines are not the only forms of food fraud by a long way. Many brilliant (and well paid) minds are inventing new foods all the time. They hydrogenate fats; modify starches, then thin or thicken them to give a range of textures; they add emulsifiers, thickeners, preservatives and antioxidants to stop them going rancid, artificial flavours because they have no taste or the taste is pretty foul, colourings to make them more appealing, artificial sweeteners (several of which are known to cause cancer), waxes, oils, bleaching agents and improvers. Some of these additives are there to make the gunge acceptable to the buying public. Some is there so that it runs through the machines more easily. The food content is generally so poor that what you buy in most cases is an appetising-looking product which is lacking in real nutrients. In many cases you get no real food at all. Lemonade doesn't contain lemons — even the flavour doesn't come from lemons; cheese and onion flavour crisps contain no cheese and no onion. The food scientists can synthesise just about anything; and the ad-men can sell it. And if they tell you it has added vitamins and minerals, you are more likely to buy it — so they do. If it were real food, however, it wouldn't need to have vitamins and minerals added.
Then there's that great con where they get you to buy a product — and you have to add your own food. One classic is the fruit pie mix. They start with a homely name: 'Grandma's Traditional Cherry Pie Mix', put it in a package with an appealing picture, advertise it on commercial television and it will sell like the proverbial hot cakes. When you buy it and look at the ingredients and instructions, you will read something like: 'Cherry flavour pie mix — just add sugar, milk and eggs'. What you have bought is a mix of chemicals — you have to add the real food yourself.
There are a few clues if you know what to look for. In the trifle example above, we see the words 'Raspberry Flavour'. The clue is in the word 'flavour'. The law allows the word 'flavour' to be used when all that flavour is artificial. If it says 'Raspberry Flavoured Trifle', however, there must be some real raspberry in it — although there may not be much. If the label proclaims 'Raspberry Trifle' then there will be more fruit, although again there may not be much. When artificial flavours are used, the manufacturers have some 6,000 to choose from; but you won't know what they are because they are not subject to any regulation and they won't be specified on the product's label. And don't be fooled if the label tells you that the product contains natural flavours. These will have come from a laboratory too.
Part 3: Artificial flavours
Artificial flavours are used to disguise the taste of poor quality products. Smoked bacon is comparatively expensive to produce, but dye ordinary bacon and use an artificial smoky flavour and you can make more profit.
And that is only part of the fraud. Bacon spits in a frying pan because of the amount of water in it. Water is also added to many other meat and fish products. The packet may say how much extra has been added — but it probably lies. Manufacturers are allowed to add a certain amount of water without declaring the fact. The amount of water they declare does not include the amount allowed; so if the label says 'with 15% added water', it really means 'with 15% added water on top off the amount I am allowed to add without telling you'.
People are demanding leaner meat so the fat is cut off it — but it isn't thrown away. Manufacturers don't throw a potential source of profit away. Once fat is cut off, it has little value, so it is used as a cheap filler, stuck together with additives to bulk out other products. We aren't eating less fat, it is merely being sold to us in a different, and more expensive, form.
Even though additives have to be listed on product labels, those labels may only tell half the story, for enzymes used in the processing of the product do not have to be listed. Enzymes are used to tenderise meat, to clean milk contaminated with antibiotics, to make modified starches and in the baking and brewing industries. Some of these enzymes are made from plant or animal tissue but most are made by microbial fermentation. Naturally the industry says that they are safe but there have been a number of reports of allergic reactions to them in workers in the industry. The government's Food Additives and Contaminants Committee published a report on enzymes in 1982. It recommended that enzymes should be regulated and that many should be placed in 'group B' because their safety had not been proven.
Another example of where additives are not labelled is in the case of cheese that is 'suitable for vegetarians'. The rennet traditionally used to curdle milk in the cheese making process is made from animal products. So it is unacceptable to vegetarians. Many cheeses today are made suitable for vegetarians by using a form synthesised vegetable rennet. In most British cheeses this is genetically modified soya. European labelling laws require that products containing genetically modified materials shall carry that information on their labels. Cheese 'suitable for vegetarians', however, rarely does because it is not an 'ingredient' but a part of the process of cheese making.
Additives in food are not only used to defraud — to make cheap substitutes for real food at a profit, they do it in a way that can have a profound effect on your health. Not just because many are toxic but because real food is replaced with cheaper ingredients and the fact disguised. Healthy, additive-free butter is not a great profit maker, but chemical-laden, unhealthy, low-fat spreads are. By replacing real food with artificial we risk various forms of malnutrition and deficiency diseases, a situation which is particularly worrying in the most vulnerable section of our society: the young. For children, the consequences are potentially catastrophic.
We have had legislation designed to protect the consumer for over a century and it has had almost no effect on the amount we are conned by the food industry. How do they get away with it? Well, government is advised by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Foods (MAFF) various committees. Many of the members of those MAFF committees are members of the food industry. It is the food industry that advises government and shapes policy. If the food industry wants something, it gets it. Consumers appear to have very little voice in the matter. The next time you shop in your supermarket, look at the labels. If the first, and thus the largest, ingredient is water, or if you can't find any food among the additives on the label, don't buy it. If we all get together and don't buy a product, the manufacturers will soon get the message and change. Write to your MP as well. If enough of us do that, we might get somewhere.
Study by Shropshire Trading Standards Department on meat content of meat products, pre and post 1984 Meat Products Regulations , 1986, Shropshire County Council.
Millstone E. Food Additives . Penguin, London, 1986.
Aruoma OI, Halliwell B. Free Radicals and Food Additives. Taylor and Francis, London, 1991
FRUIT SHOULD BE EATEN ON AN EMPTY STOMACH
We all think eating fruit means just buying fruit, cutting it up and popping it into our mouths. It's not that easy. It's important to know how and when to eat fruit.
What's the correct way to eat fruit?
IT MEANS NOT EATING FRUIT AFTER A MEAL! FRUIT SHOULD BE EATEN ON AN EMPTY STOMACH.
Eating fruit like that plays a major role in detoxifying your system, supplying you with a great deal of energy for weight loss and other life activities..
FRUIT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FOOD.
Let's say you eat two slices of bread, then a slice of fruit. The slice of fruit is ready to go straight through the stomach into the intestines, but it's prevented from doing so.
In the meantime, the whole meal rots and ferments, and turns to acid. The minute the fruit comes into contact with the food in the stomach, and digestive juices, the entire mass of food begins to spoil.
Eat your fruit on an empty stomach, or before your meal! You've heard people complain: Every time I eat watermelon I burp, when I eat durian my stomach bloats, when I eat a banana I feel like running to the toilet, etc. This will not happen if you eat the fruit on an empty stomach. Fruit mixes with the putrefying other food and produces gas. Hence, you bloat!
Graying hair, balding, nervous outburst, and dark circles under the eyes - all of these will NOT happen if you eat fruit on an empty stomach.
There's no such thing as some fruits, like orange and lemon are acidic, because all fruit becomes alkaline in our body, according to Dr. Herbert Shelton who did research on this matter. If you have mastered the correct way of eating fruit, you have the Secret of Beauty, Longevity, Health, Energy, Happiness and normal weight.
When you need to drink fruit juice drink only fresh-fruit juice, NOT from the cans. Don't drink juice that has been heated. Don't eat cooked fruit; you don't get the nutrients at all. You get only the taste... Cooking destroys all of the vitamins.
Eating a whole fruit is etter than drinking the juice. If you should drink the juice, drink it mouthful by mouthful slowly, because you must let it mix with your saliva before swallowing it. You can go on a 3-day fruit-fast to cleanse your body. Eat fruit and drink fruit juice for just 3 days, and you will be surprised when your friends say how radiant you look!
KIWI: Tiny but mighty, and a good source of potassium, magnesium, vitamin E & fiber. Its vitamin C content is twice that of an orange!
AN APPLE a day keeps the doctor away? Although an apple has a low vitamin C content, it has antioxidants & flavonoids which enhances the activity of vitamin C, thereby helping to lower the risk of colon cancer, heart attack & stroke.
STRAWBERRY: Protective Fruit. Strawberries have the highest total antioxidant power among major fruits & protect the body from cancer-causing, blood vessel-clogging free radicals.
EATING 2 - 4 ORANGES oranges a day may help keep colds away, lower cholesterol, prevent & dissolve kidney stones, and reduce the risk of colon cancer.
WATERMELON: Coolest thirst quencher. Composed of 92% water, it is also packed with a giant dose of glutathione, which helps boost our immune system. Also a key source of lycopene, the cancer-fighting oxidant. Also found in watermelon: Vitamin C & Potassium..
GUAVA & PAPAYA: Top awards for vitamin C. They are the clear winners for their high vitamin C content. Guava is also rich in fiber, which helps prevent constipation. Papaya is rich in carotene, good for your eyes..
Drinking Cold water after a meal = Cancer!
Can u believe this? For those who like to drink cold water, this applies to you. It's nice to have a cold drink after a meal, however, the cold water will solidify the oily stuff that you've just consumed, which
slows digestion. Once this 'sludge' reacts with the acid, it will break down and be absorbed by the intestine faster than the solid food. It will line the intestine. Very soon, this will turn into fats and lead to cancer.. It is best to drink hot soup or warm water after a meal.
A serious note about heart attacks.
HEART ATTACK PROCEDURE
Women should know that not every heart attack symptom is going to be the left arm hurting. Be aware of intense pain in the jaw. You may never have the first chest pain during the course of a heart attack. Nausea and intense sweating are also common symptoms. Sixty percent of people who have a heart attack while they're asleep do not wake up. Pain in the jaw can wake you from a sound sleep. Be careful, and be aware. The more we know, the better our chance to survive.