Secret ingredients of food - anyone know where I can get info about which products have dodgy (or not v appealing!) stuff that isn't advertised as an ingredient?

(52 Posts)
sipper Sun 16-Dec-12 21:52:24

Oops....long title...sorry about that!

I'm after a website (or book?) that can tell me about the stuff that goes into or onto food during its production but which isn't advertised as an ingredient.

For instance, regarding the lawsuit that Jamie Oliver is facing over 'pink slime' comments, the news reports say : Lean finely textured beef is made from beef heated and spun in a centrifuge to separate the meat from the fat, before the final product is treated with a puff of ammonium hydroxide gas to kill any bacteria.

Or, another example, the shellac 'wax' coating on lemons is from a resin secreted by the female lac bug.

Bit obscure but wondered if anyone might know.

Thanks!

FellatioNels0n Mon 28-Jan-13 03:41:35

'Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't have recognised.'

Well I understand the logic behind sentiment, and I completely agree - but I'm rather partial to avocados, fresh basil, mangoes, pasta, chillies etc. Don't really want to return to a diet of apples, pears and beef brisket and root veg!

thereistheball Mon 28-Jan-13 03:29:34

This is fascinating, thank you. I live in France where we have a huge, thriving covered market 3x a week (the other days it moves to the town next door. It is big enough to support two horse butchers, for example, and has at least ten fruit and veg stalls, four fish and seafood vendors, and numerous specialist stalls, eg for regional produce) and two excellent bakeries within a minute's walk from my front door. Shopping every day, indeed for every meal, is not unusual here: a baguette bought for lunch will not be fresh for the evening. Shops stay open late to facilitate this.

I am sure it's possible to scoff chemicals here too but at least the alternative of fresh, relatively untreated produce is readily available.

sipper Sun 27-Jan-13 23:50:01

DoItToJulia Thank you - so interesting! Please do share more if you get the chance. What else don't we get told about??!

Thank you ppteafruit that books sounds good. I will have a read (and a smell). Am now on the hunt for a decent foundation that isn't full of c***!

ppeatfruit Tue 22-Jan-13 09:47:16

You're very welcome sipper It's quite a complicated subject; they can be used for soo many different things. I use lavender and tea tree neat as a deodorant for after shaving and on spots, bites etc. (not Boots's own though they've started putting 'extras' in them hmm). The others like lemon which is lovely I put on my clothes neat as a perfume! Not on anything delicate or white though!!

IMO and E probably best to look in an independent H.F. shop for your supplies. I got a book by Liz Earle to start me off it's called Vital Oils,it'd old though there are other books!! It is brilliant for health too.

The other ess. oils I mix (Of course you can mix Ttree and lavender as well) with 'carriers' e.g. Almond and Argan or what you can find; Jojoba oil is good for greasy skin even for 'flyaway hair' but not for mine which is dry.

DoItToJulia Tue 22-Jan-13 09:41:18

Aaah, typos for rushing. Sorry.

DoItToJulia Tue 22-Jan-13 09:40:22

Hi, I am a food inspector, and have to appraise food labels for their legality as part of my job.

The law as it stands at the minute permits processing aids or ingredients which form less than 2% of the finished products do not need to be declared.

Chlorine on salad is rarely washed off and is not declared as it is a processing aid. I think these may be the loop holes you refer to?

It is not a legal requirement to use Chlor-tabs at all. The food hygiene law simply states that it is illegal to sell contaminated food. It's up to the restaurant to decide how to decontaminate the food, some use the tabs, some don't.

The labelling laws are imminently about to change. The will be based on European legislation called the food information regulations and will be, we are told, much tighter on things like the provenance of food.

I have inspected many many food factories and the bigges shock for me was the bakery. The ingredients are mainly white powders.

I had loads more to add, but the baby has woken up and needs a feed (on mat leave), but I will be back!

sipper Tue 22-Jan-13 09:07:25

Thanks for the replies and the info. boxoftricks , your pub sounds fabulous.

ppteafruit thanks for the idea. That sounds great. Any oils you recommend starting with? Do you use them neat?

ppeatfruit Sat 19-Jan-13 17:46:46

When I use ess. oil as a perfume I put them on my clothes its lovely!

ppeatfruit Fri 18-Jan-13 11:38:30

sipper I sooo agree with you; I gave up on buying normal perfumes when my favourite Penhaligon's decided to add ingredients that I didn't recognise and didn't want on my body.

So I buy organic essential oils (I'm collecting them slowly; some are MUCH more expensive than others but not more than the BIG BRAND perfumes) and then I use which ever one I fancy as a perfume, they are used for a massage with a carrier oil like almond. Also they can be used as cleansers, and moisturisers mixed into pure organic shea butter. I've bought books to help me.

boxoftricks Thu 17-Jan-13 14:18:11

I do agree, but if you want to buy sausages for example, then you've got to accept that there are going to be preservatives; for asthetic reasons, to prevent bacteria growth, for quality consistency, unless you make them yourself!
The 'evidence' of bowel cancer caused by nitrates- we're the people overweight? Genetic predisposition? Already suffering from bowel disease? Whilst I believe that there a now lots of chemicals in things that we didnt have in caveman times, it is also quite simple to avoid them.
I run a high-end gastro pub in London and am VERY proud that we make everything on site, every day. Our freezer is about the size of the microwave and is only big enough for 3 containers of homemade ice cream.
But. It's not something I revolve my life around, and am worried about. this is probably because Im very lucky and don't have crap food in my life, but I honestly think- unless you eat food how it should be eaten, what should you expect?!
What irritates me more is the eu rules on vegetables, shape size etc being class 1. Such a waste of funny shaped carrots!!!

sipper Thu 17-Jan-13 14:05:11

Hi boxoftricks absolutely and I couldn't agree more, but it is also true that in many cases people simply do not know or understand what is on their food/what processes it has gone through. More info and transparency would be useful all round.

boxoftricks Thu 17-Jan-13 14:00:47

Honestly, if you look hard enough, you can find evidence that too much or too little of ANYTHING can cause cancer/dementia/ disease of the week.
Do you drink wine? Wash your hair with shampoo? Use washing up liquid? All 'normal things' but things that some people avoid for fear of health.
The best thing you can do, is eat food in its simplest form. Or take a step further down the processing line. Eg, instead of eating cheap sausages, eat sausages with a higher meat content, that you know the origin of.
Many nitrates are present in food for preservation reasons. Just eat food in its original form. Focus on changing what you eat to eat better not just avoiding "bad" food.

sipper Thu 17-Jan-13 13:39:30

Thank you boxoftricks that's interesting to read.

Anyone know about the nitrites?

boxoftricks Thu 17-Jan-13 10:47:35

In pubs, restaurants all over the country, it is a legal requirement to decontaminate leaves, veg, fruit using 'chlor-tabs' in a food washing sink. It is a very very weak chlorine solution, items are plunged into it, for a couple of minutes, removed, the sink drained, and then replunged into clean cold water to rinse.
I saw that programme, and it showed shortened processes. Remember this is a tv programme and can't possibly show everything.
The amount of chlorine left on the leaves would be negligible and far outweighs the risk of bacteria.

sipper Thu 17-Jan-13 10:29:25

Hello fellow MNers interested in what's in the food we eat...

Does anyone have any info about salad (re. my question in post above this one)?

Also, anyone up to speed on nitrites? I'm reading more and more about them, how many foods they are present in, and their cancer-causing connections. See this link for starters www.preventcancer.com/consumers/food/hotdogs.htm There's often media coverage saying processed meats cause bowel cancer, but from what I've been reading it's the nitrites that the manufacturers add that is actually causing/implicated in bowel cancer. Why can't manufacturers produce foods without it? Seems it is used to preserve but also to enhance the colour. Maybe if we all got more used to more natural colour degradation they could just use salt and we'd be a lot healthier. Any info gratefully read. Big thank you!

sipper Thu 17-Jan-13 10:29:08

Hello fellow MNers interested in what's in the food we eat...

Does anyone have any info about salad (re. my question in post above this one)?

Also, anyone up to speed on nitrites? I'm reading more and more about them, how many foods they are present in, and their cancer-causing connections. See this link for starters http://www.preventcancer.com/consumers/food/hotdogs.htm There's often media coverage saying processed meats cause bowel cancer, but from what I've been reading it's the nitrites that the manufacturers add that is actually causing/implicated in bowel cancer. Why can't manufacturers produce foods without it? Seems it is used to preserve but also to enhance the colour. Maybe if we all got more used to more natural colour degradation they could just use salt and we'd be a lot healthier. Any info gratefully read. Big thank you!

sipper Thu 10-Jan-13 23:22:24

Does anyone know if the chlorine wash that prepared salad, (salad that is chopped up and sold in plastic bags), gets washed in is:

a) rinsed off before bagged?
b) does rinsing with water fully get it off anyway? (whether at home or prior to bagging?)

I saw a programme this week that showed a prepacked sandwich factory. They showed as part of the process the chlorine solution the lettuce was washed in and they then showed it seemingly going straight to the bread to be made into a sandwich. That salad did not seem to have the chlorine rinsed off at all.

I eat salad but don't fancy the chlorine so much.... I know there's the option to buy a full lettuce and chop it up, so it's not about that so much as wanting to know how on earth a consumer can tell what's on what they are buying.

sipper Thu 10-Jan-13 23:14:26

Lamazeroo thank you for the Eat Your Heart Out recommendation. Am part way through reading it and already feeling v cross at the food industry!

sipper Thu 27-Dec-12 21:55:36

Ooooo... I haven't seen Lush gorilla scents... is that for real????? eau de gorilla? jungle pheromones??? recommend?

sipper Thu 27-Dec-12 21:54:18

Ruggles Thank you! Sounds like a book worth reading. There seem to be a lot of these catch all terms - perfume, flavourings etc - that don't require explaining on the label. Seems wrong that manufacturers can lump things in under these headings, meaning the consumer is none the wiser. I have ended up trying to avoid products with these catch all words in their ingredients list, but I would much rather know what they actually are so I can make a decision based on complete info sad

Ruggles Thu 27-Dec-12 19:08:37

What a brilliant thread! I am so freaked by some of the stuff in our food - things that we thought were good for us confused. It is so difficult to know what's included and what is best etc. Add in food miles / organic / where to buy etc and no wonder we are spinning.

We read labels quite carefully as DCs have strong allergies but have recently started following a stricter diet and someone recommended What's Really in Your Basket which is great and a real eye opener. It grades ingredients into green, amber and red depending on how good / bad they are. Interesting how many labels from retailers which I used to trust, don't tell you what is in there - e.g.
'Flavourings' in squash.

KnittyFoxyMa Wed 26-Dec-12 01:02:23

Yw. re perfumes, have you looked at Lush gorilla scents?

sipper Thu 20-Dec-12 13:04:49

Thank you KnittyFoxyMa

KnittyFoxyMa Wed 19-Dec-12 13:25:52

not on the label is excellent, also the food we eat by Joanna Blythman.

sipper Wed 19-Dec-12 00:11:21

Lamazeroo thanks for the link

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