Know what's in your food! PART III

What’s in your bacon? I went grocery shopping today and decided to read the ingredients on the labels. I assumed there would be at least one preservative in the factory bacon, but boy was I surprised to see how many there were. The shocking part for me wasn’t even the amount, it was that some were just acronyms.

Here’s a list of what I saw for preservatives:
Sodium phosphate
Sodium nitrate
Sodium erythorbate

Other stuff I found in one of the packages were:
Artificial flavors
Maltodextrin
Dextrose
Propylene glycol
Polysorbate 80

One of the packages had in the ingredients “Natural Maple Flavor”, which contained “artificial flavors”. So how are artificial flavors….natural? You’re probably as confused as I am.

I researched these and here is what I found:

Sodium Phosphate- “Helps keep your meat moist” and generally refers to one of three chemical compounds. [Oh great….again, we see where the producer doesn’t have to be specific] The most common is trisodium phosphate, with others being sodium dihydrogen phosphate (AKA monosodium phosphate) and disodium hydrogen phosphate (AKA disodium phosphate). 

Commonly sold as a whitish powder, it’s used for degreasing, stain removing, and additives in soaps. Today’s kids that are eating Tidepods may not be far off. 

Sodium Nitrate- is also known as Chile saltpeter. Used high doses to kill rodents, while small amounts are used in prepared foods. The FDA has not yet determined how much is safe to eat. 

Sodium Erythorbate- is used to maintain the pink coloring in meat and reduces nitric oxide. This replaced sulfites in fresh and prepared meats by the USDA, since to many it is an allergen. It is derived from processed sugars of sugar cane and corn. 

Artificial Flavors- are “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. 

Maltodextrin- derived from a starch grain. In the US it’d derived from mostly corn, where in Europe it’s mostly from wheat. It’s used as sweetener and is often found in soft drinks, beers, and candy. 

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’s so many things that I can’t list. 

Polysorbate 80-is used to stabilize mixtures of various compounds and not allowing them to form together. It’s found in food and cosmetics as a de-foamer. It’s made from fatty acids found in vegetables and animals. 


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’s 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. 

Bacon is a form of cured meat. It’s pork belly salted or brined for a period of time and then usually smoked in order to preserve it. “Uncured” bacon does not truly exist. But the USDA demands that the label say this 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. 

Our bacon is uncured and contains the following ingredients:  Pork, water, Brown Sugar, Maple Syrup, Sea Salt, and Celery powder. No synthetics!

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