Know what's in your food! PART II

Do you know what’s in your sausage? I went grocery shopping last week and decided to read the ingredients on the labels. I figured that there would be at least one preservative in the factory sausage, but there were many, and some were just acronyms.

Here’s a list of what I saw:

  • Corn Syrup
  • Artificial flavors
  • Natural Flavors
  • Dextrose
  • Propylene glycol
  • Propyl Gallate
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
  • BHA
  • BHT
The USDA and FDA allow these big companies to not label the true ingredients of their products.

I researched these and here is what I found:

Artificial Flavors- “chemical enhancers” (whatever that means) that keep the flavor in the product over time as it breaks down since many processed foods are on shelves for weeks on end. One news website I read that had an article on it stated that they are “proprietary chemical formulas owned by the flavor companies that create them.” Well, I guess that sums it up. They don’t have to report what’s in it, which means, we don’t know what’s in it. The FDA allows a mixture of over 1300 various chemicals and the FDA does not require the manufacturer to disclose the ingredients. 

Dextrose- a simple sugar derived from corn, chemically identical to blood sugar. It’s used as a sweetener in many foods. 

Propylene glycol- the toxicity in humans is low, but it is described as a “synthetic organic compound”. Hmmm…ponder that phrase for a moment. It could mean so many things that I can’t list. 

Propyl Gallate- a food additive that prevents oxidation in foods containing oils or fats. It is also found in cosmetics, adhesives, lubricants, and hair products. It is not known to be a carcinogen, but it is known to be an estrogen antagonist (blocks estrogen receptors).

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)- used as a flavor enhancer for meaty foods. It is an additive linked to headaches and migraines. Tests have linked it to forms of obesity. 

BHA (Butylated hydroxyanisole)- a waxy solid used as an antioxidant food preservative. It prevents rancidification and odors. It’s also used in rubber, packaging, cosmetics and petroleum products. Several studies show it to be a human carcinogen and it has been banned in most of the world. 

BHT (Butylated hydroxytoluene)- a derivative of phenol, it is used as an antioxidant preservative. Small amounts are allowed in food, but it’s primarily used in fuels and oils to prevent oxidation. It has been linked to cancer, asthma, and behavioral issues in children.  It too has been banned in many countries.

When it comes to food, I think a good route is to keep it simple. The USDA and FDA allow these big companies to not label the true ingredients of their products. So do we really know that they are fit for human consumption? I guess we don’t.

Here are the ingredients of our bacon, which is “cured” through a natural process using celery. We do not add any nitrates, nitrites, sulfates or synthetic chemicals. Celery has natural nitrates in it and thus this is the only alternative the USDA allows. 

Smoked bacon and sausage are brined for a period of time and then usually smoked in order to preserve it. “Uncured” is a term the USDA demands that the label say, if no synthetic chemicals are used in the process. The nitrates help prevent the growth of bacteria. The term uncured is reserved for a more natural method using organic or natural processes. During the brining period, the natural nitrates enter the meat from the celery. 

If you like your community, support local, eat local, buy local. 

-Frank