Thursday, March 21, 2013

What's in your food?

I'm sure a lot of you know that there are hidden things in food.  I myself have known and ignored for a long time what was in gelatin and hotdogs.  When I was looking up "Natural Flavors" today I found that it could include any part of any plant or animal.  Here are some other ingredients I found that may be smart to stay away from because you are Vegan or are concerned about the health risks:


derived from collagen, a protein often collected from animal skins.  The source varies depending on the type of food,  The gelatin in desserts, for instance, comes mainly from pig skin. Gelatin, which is a thickening agent, can also be found in frosted cereals, yogurt, candy, and some types of sour cream.


Candy is often coated with shellac, a sticky substance derived from secretions of the female Kerria lacca, an insect native to Thailand.  Shellac makes jelly beans, candy corn, and other hard-coated candy look shiny. It may be called a “confectioner’s glaze” on the packaging. So sweet, and yet so sick.

Saltwater injections

in a practice called plumping, manufacturers inject salt and other ingredients into raw meat (mostly chicken) to enhance flavor and increase the weight of the meat before it’s sold.  Meat that’s been injected may say “flavored with up to 10% of a solution” or “up to 15% chicken broth.” Regular chicken has about 40 to 70 mg of sodium per 4-ounce serving, while plumped chicken can contain 5 times or more than that amount, or 300 mg and up.


strong smelling chemical found in household cleaning products, but it’s also used as gas to kill germs in low-grade fatty beef trimmings.  The trim (of animal meat) is prone to having more bacteria on so they use ammonia as a kill step to deal with the bacteria during processing. This controversial practice started around 2001, and the resulting product—sometimes called pink slime—is used as a filler in ground beef.

Bisphenol A

or BPA, has been removed from most hard plastics (including baby bottles and sippy cups), it can still be found in the sealant in the lining of some cans.  This can be especially problematic with acidic foods like tomatoes...the concern is that it leaks into foods.  BPA has been linked to brain, behavior and prostate problems, especially in fetuses and children.

Silicon dioxide

AKA ....sand.  It’s used in a lot of things as a flow agent and partly because it does a nice job of absorbing a little bit of atmospheric humidity that would cause clumping in a variety of things.
 You'll find in in salts, soups, and coffee creamer.


AKA Crimson Lake, Cochineal, or Natural Red #4 ...a red food-coloring that comes from boiled cochineal bugs, which are a type of beetle.  There have been reports that the bug-based coloring can cause severe allergic reactions in some people, including potentially life-threatening anaphylactic reactions, so the FDA now requires that the ingredient be listed clearly on food and cosmetic labels. It can be found in ice cream, Skittles, Good n’ Plenty, lemonade, and grapefruit juice.

Propylene glycol

This chemical is found in antifreeze.  Propylene glycol has lubricating properties which aid in making spice concentrates, not to mention condoms. And if you need good mixing in food, this is your compound. Things that don’t mix well in water do disperse well in propylene glycol.  You'll find it in Sodas, salad dressing, and beer.

 L-cysteine or cystine

this non-essential amino acid is made from human hair or duck feathers and is used as a dough conditioner to improve the texture of breads and baked goods. Again, since cystine comes from natural sources, you can eat “natural” and still have hair in your food.


is derived from the mucosa of veal calves’ fourth stomach, this ingredient is frequently used in the production of cheese to curdle the milk. Often listed simply as “enzymes” on an ingredient panel, it can be very hard to know exactly what you’re eating when you buy cheese.

You can find even more info through the Vegetarian Resources Group FAQ on ingredients found in food.

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