Chemicals in your food Dyes and Flavorings

July 30, 2009 at 3:55 pm 2 comments

Most artificial flavorings and dyes are derived from petroleum (coal tar). They may affect RNA, thyroid, and enzymes. Most have not been studied for safety or toxicity. They are all synthesized chemicals that don’t even have common names. Most artificial flavors and dyes actually contain many chemical ingredients, not just one. Many of those chemicals are volatile.

One of the most widely used color additives — whose presence is often hidden by the phrase “color added” — violates a number of religious dietary restrictions, may cause allergic reactions in susceptible people, and comes from an unusual source. Cochineal extract (also known as carmine or carminic acid) is made from the desiccated bodies of female Dactylopius coccus Costa, a small insect harvested mainly in Peru and the Canary Islands. The bug feeds on red cactus berries, and color from the berries accumulates in the females and their unhatched larvae. The insects are collected, dried, and ground into a pigment. It takes about 70,000 of them to produce a pound of carmine, which is used to make processed foods look pink, red, or purple. Dannon strawberry yogurt gets its color from carmine, and so do many frozen fruit bars, candies, and fruit fillings, and Ocean Spray pink-grapefruit juice drink.

Yellow No. 5, or Tartrazine, is used for yellow coloring, but can also be used with Brilliant Blue FCF or Green S to produce various green shades. Use of tartrazine is banned in Norway and was banned in Austria and Germany, before European Parliament lifted the ban. Yellow No. 5 can be found in soft drinks, (Moutain Dew) instant puddings, flavored chips (Doritos, etc), cake mixes, custard powder, soups, sauces, kool-aid, ice cream, ice lollies, candy, chewing gum, marzipan, jam, jelly, marmalade, mustard, horseradish, yogurt, noodles, pickles and other pickled products, certain brands of fruit squash, fruit cordial, chips, tim tams, and many convenience foods together with glycerin, lemon and honey products.

Also known as Sunset Yellow FCF, this dye is an orange coal tar-based food dye found in orange squash, orange jelly, marzipan, Swiss roll, apricot jam, citrus marmalade, lemon curd, fortune cookies, sweets, hot chocolate mix and packet soups, trifle mix, breadcrumbs and cheese sauce mix and soft drinks. It is the color most prominently seen in DayQuil. It is capable of causing allergic reactions such as abdominal pain, hyperactivity, hives, nasal congestion, and bronchoconstriction, as well as kidney tumours, chromosomal damage, and distaste for food.

Some pretty frightening sounding chemicals like caroxymethyl cellulose, butyraldehyde, and amyl acetate are additives in some commercial ice creams. How about some diethyl glycol — a cheap chemical used to take the place of eggs, which is also used in anti-freeze and paint removers.

Aldehyde C-17, flavoring for cherry ice cream, is an inflammable liquid used in dyes, plastics, and rubber. Piperonal, used in place of vanilla, is a lice killer. Ethyl Acetate, a pineapple flavor, can also clean leather and textiles.

Shopping was easy when most food came from farms. Now, factory-made foods have made chemical additives a significant part of our diet.  Please read your labels and if you can not pronounce what is on the label don’t buy it.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kissie  |  July 31, 2009 at 1:23 am

    Wow! Very informative, thank you.

    Reply
  • 2. Stephanie  |  August 1, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    This is a great article – it’s not only scary that many vegans are eating these items not knowing the origins of these processed products. But I sit here an wonder, why anyone would approve or allow these items into our food system. All I can do is shake my head.

    I will spread the word!!

    Reply

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