6 scary-sounding food additives - and what they really are
June 22nd, 2010
10:30 AM ET
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1. Xanthan gum

Sure the word "xanthan" sounds a little ominous, and yes, the stuff is made from the bacteria that cause black rot on broccoli plants. But xanthan gum is a pretty benign substance. When the bacteria (called Xanthomonas campestris, if you're a scientist) is mixed with corn sugar, it produces a tasteless, colorless goop that can be used as a thickener. It keeps ice cream from crystallizing and is what gives gluten-free bread its spongy texture. Some people may be allergic to it, but it's pretty much as harmless as you can get.

2. Tertiary butylhydroquinone

In his book "The Omnivore's Dilemma," Michael Pollan wrote that this additive –- known as TBHQ -– was "perhaps the most alarming ingredient" in a chicken nugget. He listed a bunch of terrifying symptoms that might result from ingesting a single gram of the stuff. Of course, to get a whole gram, you'd need to eat over 300 nuggets at one sitting. So while TBHQ is pretty nasty stuff, it probably won't do anything bad to you in the short term. It's an antioxidant; it keeps cooking oil from going bad. Derived from petroleum, it's also popularly used in paints and varnishes.

3. Sodium stearoyl lactylate

You know how you use the expression "like oil and water" for two things that will never blend? Through the magic science of sodium stearoyl lactylate, oil and water blend perfectly well. It's used in flour tortillas and many other packed baked goods. No studies have shown it to be harmful, but because the chemical is made from lactic acid, it does tend to make vegans a little nervous. Most of what's used in food comes from cocoa butter and other vegetable sources, though, so they can eat all the tortillas they want.

4. Phosphoric acid

That tangy "bite" you feel when you take a swig of cola comes from phosphoric acid, an inexpensive chemical made from minerals treated with sulfuric acid. It's also used in paint stripper, but in much higher concentrations. Those stories you might have heard about soda melting metal aren't really true; soft drinks aren't any more corrosive than orange juice. But the jury's till out on phosphoric acid. Some studies have suggested that it can leach calcium out of the body, leading to weaker bones.

5. Cochineal extract

Good news: cochineal extract is all natural and has been used as a coloring for centuries. Possibly gross news: It's made from bugs. Tiny insects that live on cactuses in Mexico and South America are dried and crushed to make the bright red coloring. The Aztecs dyed their clothing with it. Since several artificial red food colorings were found to cause cancer, it's been used more in food. You can find it juice drinks, processed meats, cheese and cookies (a more refined version is known as carmine or Natural Red #4). Some people have mild allergic reactions, but other than the ick factor, there's nothing harmful about the substance.

6. Soy lecithin

Soy lecithin shows up in a lot of ingredient lists. In candy bars, it keeps the cocoa and the cocoa butter from separating; in baked goods, it makes the dough less sticky. It's a natural product, chemically extracted from the sludge left over after pressing soybean oil. While some anti-soy crusaders claim it should be avoided, other studies suggest that it could lower your cholesterol: It contains the nutrient choline, which is a popular supplement in vitamin shops.

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soundoff (324 Responses)
  1. JoSH

    Very informative article...Loads of good information. I'm big food lover and loved this article, thanks

    my site is: http://theautobinarysignalsreview.weebly.com/

    October 11, 2014 at 3:09 am |
  2. Cedric Noli

    Nice detailed description, Great work!


    October 11, 2014 at 1:23 am |
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  5. Knife Sets ·

    aspartame is good but i think Xylitol is even better because it is natural and organic "

    November 7, 2010 at 12:01 pm |
    • Knife Duller

      "aspartame is good "

      You are a complete idiot.

      November 18, 2011 at 1:53 am |
  6. infawlilmLiew

    ILIANA EBONI ate about this question (many cr CHAYA

    September 5, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
  7.  Door Curtains

    the problem with using rat posion is that it can also harm your pets at the same time,"

    August 18, 2010 at 1:24 pm |
  8. Lynne Viera

    if some of you want to see stuff like xanthan gum, liquid nitrogen and Versa whip in action, check out this Watermelon Ice Cream video with Jason Santos, who's currently on Hell's Kitchen: http://how2heroes.com/videos/dessert-and-baked-goods/ln2-watermelon-ice-cream Fun!

    June 24, 2010 at 9:29 am |
  9. hotpennystocksc

    new to the forum. looking forward to the dialogue and participating. Anyone have any ideas on the second half of this year? I think its getting worse, and I have seen more volume.

    June 23, 2010 at 4:05 pm |
  10. Fingirero

    Humans should not be talking about being healthy. It's one way of eliminating bad strain (or those who will carry stupid genes that can't help but eat bad foods) in the continuation of our species. Because when time comes that natural selection will kick in for humans, those who were able to survive were the ones whose ancestry knows what and when to eat the right thing. In that way, world population will no longer skyrocket.

    June 23, 2010 at 1:03 pm |
  11. dmanburger

    And they want to ban SALT ?

    June 23, 2010 at 9:37 am |
  12. Lucky

    TBHQ = "popularly used in paints and varnishes" will NOT be on my dinner table!

    June 23, 2010 at 9:03 am |
  13. MikeTheInfidel

    You said that some rats can eat rat poison and survive because they've eaten rat poison for so long. Two problems with that.

    1. The ones that ate rat poison and DIED wouldn't be contributing to that at all, so the idea that they gained some sort of benefit that passed on to the population is moronic.

    2. If eating rat poison allows a rat to SURVIVE being poisoned, then by the same magical rules, eating fast-growing, sterile food would make people grow slowly and reproduce like rabbits.

    THINK! PLEASE! Before you try to scare people into being as stupid as you.

    June 23, 2010 at 8:11 am |
    • MikeTheInfidel

      ... that was in reply to Colorado Girl's comment "June 22, 2010 at 6:04 pm"... but CNN's comment system is a bit broken.

      June 23, 2010 at 8:12 am |
      • Colorado Girl

        Did you decide to pick apart all my comments after finding one?

        Question two: I'm guessing you've heard of adaptation and evolution? The same things that means vaccines are only effective for a couple years and the medical industry reccommends getting a flu shot each year? Because the bacteria ADAPT and CHANGE into something slightly different that the immunity the human body develops from a vaccine doesn't protect against.
        I'll say it again: MAGNIFICATION. Have you taken any environmental studies college courses? The reason PEOPLE get MERCURY POISONING from fish is due to MAGNIFICATION. Tiny fish ingest mercury and survive (evolutionary mutation, it is miniscule, it is why every living being, barring clones, has unique DNA), bigger fish eat the smaller fish, and so on, until people eat too much tuna in one week, and WHOOPS, what happens?
        So no, it is your logic that is flawed, by the logic that a couple rats eat rat poison and survive (probably due to a built up immunity, just like what vaccines cause for us against bacteria), to then be eaten by a cat that dies from the poison, it would follow that people eating how much genetically modified produce would (when they have kids) have children that mature and die earlier, among other health issues. Yes, this is partial conjecture, as deliberate changes in genetics ARE different from immunity and predisposition to developing immunity; however, it has happened in other species.

        Maybe you'd like to take up your issues with my college professors or other experts and their PhD's??

        Somebody was wondering what GMOs are: Genetically Modified Organisms. Does the Taco Bell brouhaha from around 2005 or so ring any bells?

        June 23, 2010 at 2:34 pm |
      • Colorado Girl

        Oh, and clearly you have never lived on a farm. My neighbors and my family have had this happen fairly often where we have rat poison in the barns that only made a slight differences with the rats or mice, but then a cat would die and what did the vet find? Rats with poison in their blood. It may be that the poison made the rats sick (instead of killing them, because of a tolerance...you've heard of tolerance, right? People develop it with alcohol...), so they were easier for the cats to catch...but still, some of the rats did not die and VOILA, magnification.

        June 23, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
      • MikeTheInfidel

        1. Rats cannot build up an immunity to rat poison. Either they die, or they become violently ill and avoid it henceforth, or they live.

        2. Bacteria and vaccines have nothing to do with each other.

        You were saying that we will inherit traits of the food we eat. This goes against EVERYTHING THAT WE KNOW ABOUT GENETICS.

        June 23, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
      • Caesar

        Colorado Girl:

        I will argue with your professors only if they told you that genetically modified foods are somehow causing genetic changes in people. There has never been such a thing documented or even conjectured since the LaMarck models of evolution were disproven and since molecular genetics elucidated the patterns of inheritance in living cells.

        However, I think they gave you the correct information BUT you are misinterpreting it.

        Genetically modified foods and organisms do not alter the bodies of their consumer. The thing about immunity is that influenza virus has point mutations in its HA and NA surface proteins yearly, thus the vaccination from the year before may not give you much help. Other vaccines that have long-lasting immunity work on a cell-mediated and humoral memory level and are much more sophisticated than the yearly flu doses. Bacteria DO NOT BECOME 'RESISTANT' to a vaccine, they only change and evade immunity to cause new disease.

        2) Poison. This is a chemical compound of some sort with a known toxicity to the animals ingesting it. Mercury amplification has to do with the concentrating effects of both eating the parts of the animal that contain the contaminant and also eating more than one animal with contamination to give a boosted concentration in the consuming animal. This is quantified and predictable based purely on how much toxin is in the animal being eaten to start, how much is in the consumer to start, and how many organisms the consumer eats with the toxin. There is no reason to NEVER EVER eat fish for fear of mercury poisoning in the absence of a known contamination. You'd have to be eating alot of fish to ever see amplification take effect and even then, mostly in fetuses.

        Now on to genetics. The genetically modified organisms people like to frown on have been manipulated by science to produce entirely new products using their own cellular machinery. Recombinant insulin is one of the best showings of this in E. coli. Plants and other vegetables with so called 'in-born' pesticides at levels that will never affect a human already exist. Plenty more exist that will kill you in small doses! The genetic modifications people hate are in food plants. Why? I don't understand. There is no difference from a genetically modified plant with total pest resistance versus a 1000 yr old strain of corn that was cross pollenated to give us our corn today but requires pesticides applied to stay viable.

        Eating the genetically modified organism does not change your own genetics. That would be a viral effect. The only thing I can conceive of that could be consumed and change your genetics is a virus. But then, there are NO KNOWN TERATOGENIC VIRUSES, meaning a viral infection's changes are not passed on. The effect is with a viral infection of the fetus.

        The genetic material put into these plants is fully known. Any single gene added, modified, or taken away can be plugged in and scanned for ANY VIRAL architecture whatsoever in under a minute. Eating genetically modified foods is not going to cause amplification effects in your genes. That is trinucleotide repeats. Most free nucleic acid is digested by your own DNAase enzymes anyways.

        Does that help show you anything? There is no way for a genetically modified food to alter your own genetics and then in turn pass any changes whatsoever to the offspring.

        June 23, 2010 at 9:31 pm |
  14. pennystocksk

    newbie to the forum. looking forward to posting and participating. Anyone have any thoughts on the second half of this year? I feel its getting worse, and I have seen more volume.

    June 23, 2010 at 5:08 am |
  15. pennystocksw

    newbie to the forum. looking forward to learning and participating. Anyone have any predictions on the second half of 2010? I think its getting worse, and I have seen more trading.

    June 23, 2010 at 4:26 am |
  16. Real Life Time Line

    Just to check a few facts, how many of these comments have come from those who are trained in food science? Okay now how many actually know how long it takes to create food from scratch? Okay now how many actually have more than 12-18 minutes a day to actually prepare eah of their meals everyday? (those who do have the time should really go out an get a job). The basis for the processed food indusry is to satisfy the demand of the market, no market no profit. The three key drivers for a new food product are taste, cost and conveience. If some of you want to go back 50 – 75 years with your diets please review the overall state of human health at that time. We lived nearly 12 years shorter, had higher rates of malnutrition (remember diseases like ricketts) and our diets were strongly controlled by where you lived. If you lived too far from the source of a certain grain or fruit then too bad, no oranges for you in February. Modern processing allows more people in more locations to enjoy a wide variety of foods with longer shelf lives. Yes this does require the use of additives that our grandparents never heard of. My granparents never used a computer either, does that mean I should not? Do I even want to consider living that way? You want to see some really scary names on products try reading your medicine labels. Do you want to retreat in time to live before anti-biotics? No? I did not think so. There is a reson it is called progress people, the "good olde days" were not that good. I wonder what the ratio is comparing the number of people who starve or suffer from malnutrition in the world to those who have developed serious health issues because their babbeque sauce has 0.025% xantha gum in it. There is a term for those who wish to turn back the clock on human progress "luddite". There is another term for those who insist on doing it "extinct"!

    June 22, 2010 at 10:01 pm |
  17. Juanita

    what they said in this article about soda not harming metal is not true. Test if for yourself. Drop a penny in a glass of pop and leave it a couple days and get back to me!

    June 22, 2010 at 9:49 pm |
  18. read closely for_facts

    The bias in the article is on the side of many companies who advertise on the cnn network. Of course they want you to feel safe about consuming the additives. Just as many independent studies found how damaging they can be. See for your self...Next time your at the mall look around and see how many are overweight , there is a direct link. 30 years as a Doctor/Chemist will teach you a thing or two

    June 22, 2010 at 7:22 pm |
    • Chemophage

      It's sad to see that the many years of education that preceded that "30 years as a Doctor/Chemist" didn't include a basic knowledge of proper English usage, such as completeness of sentences, capitalization, punctuation, and improper usage of words such as "your self" instead of "yourself" and "your" for "you're."

      June 22, 2010 at 10:57 pm |
  19. some dumb guy

    avoid dihydrogen monoxide! many are killed every day. it's not always listed on the label. gov't should ban this substance due to the huge numbers of deaths caused.

    June 22, 2010 at 7:05 pm |
  20. Michael

    The best way to solve the problem, is to learn to cook, and eat at home... Remember how your folks did, Dinner at home, breakfast before you left for school...You packed a lunch, It's not that hard, and don't give me that cr-p, I don't have time... You have time to blog, facebook, internet, multi-task..., You have the time....

    June 22, 2010 at 7:03 pm |
  21. frank thomas

    Just eat most any and everything edible, foods are all chemicals in different combinations, let the body sort them out, that what a liver is for, primitive tribes eat fresh meats and vegetables, fruits and nuts, free of fertilizer and generally live lives like we do , maybe a little shorter because they lack medical care. Our medical care just keeps one going when they should have died off naturally .

    June 22, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
  22. Monkey Sea

    I'm very sad now. You went from conversation to deplorable attack at everybody. If you cared as you say you do then there wouldn't be so much "moron" name calling. You lead more people with natural honey...

    I am going to go home. I wish I had as much time as the big C does to rant but sadly I have a company to run. C, if you take your own advice you will see we all were having fun talking about what positive things we came across in our journey of experimentation and learning. You, a simple troll (and a couple friends) come in and try to ruin it.

    This is a CNN blog. Nobody here is under any directive to show you proof or cite anything. There are plenty of people with ACTUAL MD and PhD after their name (unlike you) that do have issues with all of the things we are talking about.

    There I said my peace. You really are just a bully C. I can tell how little control you have over yourself by how you phrase and attack. Its probably the chemicals. It enrages you how little power you have, doesn't it! Hope you don't own weapons lol

    Meow. Goodnight all :)

    June 22, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
    • Bob

      You belittle him for name calling (which I didn't see, but I could be mistaken so don't hold me to it), then use an ad-hominem attack to discredit him. To top it all off, you used the classic "you must be a basement dweller living off your parents, while I'm saving the free world" attack. Priceless!

      You did nothing to address his logic, or add to the conversation at hand. He is, showing how people's fear of the unknown is affecting their reasoning. Just because someone wrote it doesn't make it true. Don't use logical fallacies to try to press your point.

      No, I don't know Caesar (although I think it would be cool to share a beer with him after this) so don't start on the "and a couple of friends" stuff. A troll is someone who throws in obvious disinformation or inflammatory statements simply to incite a written riot so to speak. He's not a troll.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  23. Thomas

    "It contains the nutrient choline, which is a popular supplement in vitamin shops."

    That is a pretty stupid defense of the additive, because vitamin shops are filled with snake oil.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
    • Caesar

      Yep. I say eat up those lead-tainted 'natural supplements' and feel healthy lol.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  24. CulinaryFool

    Lets get to the Meat and Potatoes that both sides can agree on. WELCOME TO The NEW and Improved SOYLENT GREEN. It is everything that your body and mind needs, because it is made from People. Natural healthy People, Pro Big Ag lives it because it supports all the wonderful chemical science we can use to make it tasty, Mmmmm Good. (That means Jobs) And Anit-Big Ag people love it TOO. Because it is made mostly from the overpopulating masses that have no soul. It's the best of both worlds in convient travel size pouches, and now in a Mango-Mind powder for your own Sports drink

    June 22, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
  25. Alex

    How about adding high fructose corn syrup to that list?
    Please watch :

    June 22, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
    • Caesar

      You made one fatal flaw:

      The SUBSTANCE is not toxic.

      The effects of high sugar intake by the OVERCONSUMPTION OF THE PRODUCTS that it is used in, however, is what he talks about. Naturally sweetened sodas (10-4 Dr. Pepper) still have the same amount of calories and sugars than one with high fructose corn syrup. Guess what? You drink three of EITHER of those a day and you're overconsuming sugar.

      For god's sake people, it is NOT THE SUGAR. It's the AMOUNT of sugar you are eating. The sugar is not toxic.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
  26. Joseph Ramos

    Watch "Super Size me" and see what processed food does to you body in 30 days.

    June 22, 2010 at 4:43 pm |
    • Caesar

      Or the fact that he was eating a disproportionate amount of fats, oils, and sugars and salts without fibers, adequate breads, and essential vitamins?

      That's not what 'processed food' does to you in 30 days. ALL it shows is what McDonald's for 30 days can do to you. Your conclusion went an extra step that wasn't even relevant.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
    • Bob

      Supersize me is a pathetic attempt to scare you into thinking fast food is the devil. It's not. Demon at worst, and certainly no angel. If he made the same, or similar, foods at home, he'd probably be in the same shape as he was at the end of the "documentary". Overindulgence in hollow calories (excessive fats, processed carbs, sugars, sodium, etc.) was the cause of his decline in health, not the fact that it was fast food in and of itself.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
    • JoeMcPhee

      Or maybe it's that he always drank two sodas, always ordered multiple burgers, always got the extra large fries and also stopped walking at the same time. I don't think it's any surprise that if you go on an 8000 calorie a day diet and stop exercising you're going to pork up... it was an effective marketing device, but it certainly wasn't the damning indictment of the fast food industry that it was portrayed to be.

      Food Inc, made some better points about the issue, although it wasn't nearly as sensational.

      June 23, 2010 at 5:48 am |
  27. bdesigner

    This article was probably written by a freelance writer... who doesn't even know what it means to be healthy... Americans really need to do some research on where their foods are coming from.

    June 22, 2010 at 4:28 pm |
  28. Robert

    People have forgotten how and why fast foods came to be. All this talk about growing and preparing your own foods, it's a nice thought, but our way of life simply won't allow many of us to do that. I get up at 6 am and have to rush to be at work at 8 am. No time to drive back home for lunch. Return home at about 7 pm. Tired. Next day the same. Saturdays: Run errands. Have the afternoon off to rest a bit. Am I really going to harvest beats on sunday? or tend to the chickens? Oh, by the way, I live in an apartment...

    June 22, 2010 at 4:24 pm |
    • Bob

      While I agree that all this "zomgchemsarebad!" talk is a bit extreme, you can always make time to eat right IF you want and choose to. When you do feel like cooking, make twice what you'd normally make, and freeze the leftovers. After a few meals you'll have a decent variety to choose from so you won't get bored with lunch. You can do the same with pancakes, french toast, sausage biscuits, etc. When you really don't feel like what you have, go ahead and have that egg mcmuffin or cinnamon roll you want instead. 100% chem free? Hardly. Infinitely better than fast food often? Definitely.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
  29. LazyEater

    As long as semen never pops up on the ingredients list, I'm happy with my ignant self.

    June 22, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
    • Bob

      Take it you don't like cowboy caviar. Me either, just sayin!

      June 22, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
  30. BrianPE

    I can't eat strawberry yogurt to this day after my mother-in-law repeatedly told me she was grossed out that I would eat something that contained 'bugs' (Cochineal extract)

    June 22, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
  31. Maryann - Orlando FL

    Wow – Caesar has been bashing other posters for more than three hours now! Maybe he needs to get out of the basement for a while.

    June 22, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
    • Caesar

      I'm not busting. Not in a basement either. I'm enjoying a nice coffee and doing reading on one browser, and putting in my two cents about some of this utter misinformed nonsense when I can spare.

      June 22, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
    • Caesar

      I also happen to find this topic important, especially given the terrible misinformation that is being revealed today.

      June 22, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
  32. Jose Ralat Maldonado

    Another interesting fact about xantham gum: It's used in oil drilling. Mixing it with water boosts the viscosity of the lubrication applied to well pumps.

    June 22, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
    • Caesar

      And formaledehyde is both used in alcohol metabolism in mammalian cells AND embalming corpses?

      What's your point...

      June 22, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
  33. jw

    Who funded this article? Sounds like a sly plea for the industry.

    June 22, 2010 at 3:44 pm |
    • Caesar

      You, sir, are really mistaken.

      Why does any dissenting opinion, made in the name of actual research and NOT THE INDUSTRY, mean it's a plea for 'big food'???

      June 22, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  34. billybob

    So you picked 6 food additives with weird names that aren't all that harmful... Great job (please not the sarcasm).

    Yay! 6 down, 1400+ more to go!

    So I expect your next article will be entitled "6 scary-sounding food additives – that are really scary"
    Suggestion: Ethylparaben?
    FD&C Red 40?
    FD&C Yellow 6?
    Orthophenyl phenol?

    June 22, 2010 at 3:43 pm |
    • David

      You only named five. You have o-phenylphenol in there twice.

      June 22, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  35. David

    What gets me is just the ignorance of the names of things, go find out what it really is. If it says ascorbic acid added as preservative, people avoid it. If it says fortified with vitamin C, people think it's good. Both are the exact same thing. If I call it monosodium glutamate, run, but if I call it amino acids use it for a suppliment. Same thing.

    For those who say if I can't pronounce it I won't eat it, what about pantothenic acid. Look that one up and tell me how scary it is just cause you can't say it. I dare you to avoid it entirely. How about Phylloquinone? Better learn to pronounce that one pretty quick if you don't want to bleed out.

    June 22, 2010 at 3:41 pm |
    • Caesar

      Thank you.

      June 22, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
  36. Abby

    This article sounds more like a defense of processed food than an unbiased report of what we are eating. Let's be realistic, defending chemicals in our food that could easily be replaced by natural ingredients is not what we need. Nobody cooks with xanthan gum or TBHQ in their kitchens, why accept it in food you buy at the store?

    June 22, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
    • Caesar

      Why buy it? It's how you get that particular food to last, that's why. Something you just cannot make at home but want to use for dinner? That's why.

      You ever use corn starch for sauces or gravies? Same idea, just a different compound. Your fear is unfounded.

      June 22, 2010 at 3:59 pm |
  37. Breksa

    "So while TBHQ is pretty nasty stuff, it probably won't do anything bad to you in the short term." This is a troubling statement....are they trying to say that it's OK if it kills you 10 years from now as long as you don't drop dead while in the resaurtant eating it????

    June 22, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
  38. Richard W

    The author of this article forgot to mention that #1 Xanthan Gum is made from at least 80% genetically modified corn. #3 Sodium stearoyl lactylate is made from cows treated with the genetically modified Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone. I'm not sure the percentage on that. #6 Soy Lecithin is made from at least 90% genetically modified soybeans.

    The most recent study found that rats, when fed a diet of GM corn/soy, by the third generation had become 100% infertile, and had HAIR GROWING ON THE INSIDES OF THEIR MOUTHS. Everything I've said is scientific fact.

    June 22, 2010 at 3:15 pm |
    • David

      Everything you've said is scientific fact. I am not going to doubt you, but when you say something like that it should follow with a citation. Something like JAMA, vol15, pg 37 (made up citation). Then we can know it is a fact. Otherwise it is just some stuff you said.

      June 22, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
      • Bob

        The book he read it in didn't include inconvenient footnotes or citations. Everything written, including research papers, is simply true by definition. It's been proven by science!

        June 22, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
    • Joe Friday

      Xanthan gum is not made of corn, GMO or otherwise- the bacteria makes the gum. That's like saying milk is 80% made of grass, because the cow ate it Also people are not allergic to xanthan gum-it is most commonly used by people with allergies in baking. Some people may have an intolerance for any type of food, but true allergens are well known-milk, eggs, wheat, soy, shellfish, fish, peanuts and tree nuts-all perfectly edible to all but those few allergic people.

      July 7, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  39. LOLz

    Thank you for giving me entertainment during my work day

    June 22, 2010 at 3:11 pm |
  40. atti

    I think Caesar could be with the KGB. Careful.

    June 22, 2010 at 3:02 pm |
    • Caesar

      You say that because I ask people to open their eyes and think for themselves and try to adopt a practice of challenging their beliefs with rigor rather than accepting blind and unproven statements?

      KGB? I didn't think the USSR were still around. Shows how much you know.

      And I encourage you to learn as much as you can so you'll stop sounding like a moron.

      June 22, 2010 at 3:05 pm |
  41. Caesar

    Wheat and sugar aren't killing people. Genetically modified food is not toxic. Organic farming is not truthful. Gluten-free diets by choice are unproven to improve health besides the placebo-effect laden anecdotes you'll find everywhere.

    I encourage all of you that disagree to backtrack and read mine and Chemophage's statements. If you will waste two hours of your life on a food documentary or even longer on a 'food industry expose' book, you can find it in you to spend several minutes reading about science that has actually been proven and repeated and shown to be effective. Don't play the blame game until you've actually listened to both sides of the story. That's what science is about: challenging itself until arriving at a universal solution. It doesn't find a single outlier and claim it as the ultimate truth like the food 'science' industry likes to.

    Please take the time and consider the other side of the story. The proven side of the story.

    June 22, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
    • Juicesmith

      Thank you! As a food scientist (with a scary-to-ignorant-hippies biotechnology degree, no less), hysteria about "processed" foods and "additives" makes me crazy, because most of these claims are contradicted by actual, sound academic science.

      Unless you are strictly a hunter-gatherer, everything you eat is processed and genetically-modified. Breeding of plants and animals *is* genetic modification. If it was picked by machines or refrigerated, it is processed. Finding hysterical conspiracy theory-type rants via Google isn't research. Search legitimate academic research instead. That's as rigorous and unbiased as information can possibly be.

      Don't eat fast/junk food; don't eat anything with added sugar, and you'll be fine. Seriously. That's just common sense. HFCS isn't worse for you than regular sugar, because they're both empty calories. It just happens that your tax dollars subsidize the corn industry, keeping HFCS artificially cheap. Write your members of congress and insist that they tell the corn industry to stop taking handouts.

      Modern agricultural practices keep billions of people from starving to death, too.

      This comment thread has LOADS of misinformation derived from ignorance about how the world works (specifically in terms of science, agriculture, and industry). I am looking right now at the list of ingredients Trader Joe's does not allow in their store-brand products, and it makes me want to scream, because about half of it is on there literally because someone doesn't like how those things sound.

      June 22, 2010 at 3:15 pm |
      • Caesar

        I appreciate the reply and thoughts.

        I wonder if people even consider the effects of stress over their eating habits and choices? People that obsess about being healthy tend not to stay healthy unless they are enjoying the pursuit. That may have more to do with it than anything.

        June 22, 2010 at 3:23 pm |
      • cynthia

        I have read that Wendy's Frostys are made entirely of chemicals. I have read that the chemical factories on the shores of New Jersey manufacture the smells (fragrences !), color & textures of many of the fast food products so they are essentially identical no matter which COUNTRY you purchase your fine fast food meal. I think too much of my health & body to eat this garbage. Years ago a pathologist told me when he did an autopsy (in the 1960's), the body had a firmer internal texture due to the preservatives the person had been eating for so long, unlike the bodies he dissected in the 1930's & 1940's.................

        June 22, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
  42. Matthew Karlsson

    I was eating some left over cake we bought at BJ's a few weeks ago to celebrate a graduation, until I stopped mid bite while reading the list of ingredients. There, solidly in the middle of the label I found one of the ingredients to be "Ethylene Glycol".... Antifreeze.

    Since I like my kidneys (and my life) I decided to stop eating it then and there, and have been paying much closer attention to ingredients since. It's amazing they are allowed to put poison in food, and even list it on the ingredient label...

    June 22, 2010 at 2:18 pm |
    • Caesar

      They do it to air and water all the time.

      Except there's this principle that you are missing: Toxic levels.

      Without a toxic level, a poisonous substance that is still providing some benefit to the texture, shelf-life, or color of the food is going to do nothing to you. There are traces of toxins in every breath of air, draught of water, sip of purified water, juice, piece of fruit, and anything else you'll ever consume.... The KICKER is that they are NOT AT TOXIC OR SIGNIFICANT LEVELS

      June 22, 2010 at 2:33 pm |
      • Manuel

        You're right Caesar nothing would happen to you; if that's all you ate or if Matthew ate 100 cakes. but this stuff is in alot of different foods that we eat. so, if you're eating it a couple of times during the day, everyday, then what are the consequences? Does this stuff accumulate? How can you be so sure it won't harm you or anybody else? Are the texture, shelf-life, or the color of the food that important that you're willing to take the risk? Maybe Caesar should challenge his own beliefs because I've heard/read the same thing that he's saying about the amount we intake and it's always the same, "yes these chemicals are bad, but they're in small quantities....you would have to eat tons of it".

        June 22, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
    • DrFood

      I'm guessing now that you know about the ethylene glycol, it's more dangerous?

      June 22, 2010 at 3:08 pm |
    • David

      Pretty sure it said propylene glycol and not ethylene glycol. Still not great for you, but a HUGE difference in toxicity.

      June 22, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
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