The food products you buy at the store often contain additional ingredients. We decided to find out what’s really contained in our favorite food.
The information we provide below does not mean you should never eat any of these products, but it does show we need to control the amount that we consume. This is especially important where children are concerned. Read till the end to get the best advice for choosing food products.
The concentrate here is a puree which contains tomatoes and cornstarch. The amount of tomato in the concentrate depends on the quality of the ketchup, and it varies between 6% and 10%. When ketchup is made, corn syrup is often added, which helps to preserve it and make it viscous.
- Advice: When choosing ketchup, go for ones that are of higher quality.
7. Crab Sticks
The meat (surimi) used in crab sticks is produced using inexpensive kinds of fish. The fillet is cleaned, efforts are made to remove the fishy smell, and then it is ground down into mince. The other ingredients — salt, sugar, soya protein, vegetable oil, food colorings, and additives — are then mixed in.
- Advice: High-quality frozen crab sticks don’t snap when bent and are bound up in a thick wrapping. If they easily break when bent, this indicates the presence of a large amount of cornstarch.
6. Potato Chips
Potato chips are more often made from reconstituted potatoes than fresh ones, which is outwardly similar to washing powder. Rice or corn flour is first added to this. Acrylamide, a carcinogen, accumulates during the process of thermal processing of the potato chips. Some brands of potato chips have been found to contain amounts of this chemical that exceed safety levels (0.2 µg per kg) by 1,000%.
- Advice: Potato chips made from whole potatoes contain more oil because they are fried, whereas those made from reconstituted potatoes are usually baked.
Apart from the above-mentioned ingredients, some brands of cereal contain palm oil. In addition, corn syrup can be found in many of them. This contains a high amount of fructose — a fact that isn’t mentioned on the box.
- Advice: Because of the presence of sugar and large amounts of cornstarch, specialistsdo not recommend feeding children cereal for breakfast every day. Sugar is found more often in “frosted” cereals and those containing fruit.
4. Fruit Yogurt
Apart from the fruit itself, the amount of which varies between 1% and 5%, the fruit filling also contains cornstarch, sugar, aromatizers, colorings, and acidic regulators. Cornstarch, gelatine, sodium alginate, and gum resin are used as stabilizers.
- Advice: The best yogurts contain whole milk and healthy bacteria (the amount of bifidobacterium and lactic-acid bacterium should be indicated.) Cream and buttermilk are also acceptable ingredients.
Botanical oil, most often palm oil, is used in the production of this chocolate spread. Other ingredients include vanilla, emulsifiers, thickeners, and aromatizers.
- Advice: Don’t buy chocolate spread that has a white layer, as this is more likely to contain palm oil and less cocoa. The world’s leading producer of chocolate spread recommends consuming no more than 2 teaspoons a day.
2. White Chocolate
Chocolate should really only contain cocoa butter, but often you’ll find it’s diluted with palm oil, coconut oil, and shea butter. Other ingredients include emulsifiers (most often, lecitin), aromatizers, and additives.
- Advice: High-quality chocolate should be brittle and hard and should crack and crumble when broken.
1. Condensed Milk
Condensed milk is made by evaporating a liquid derived from milk (one can requires about 1.5 liters). It should only contain animal dairy fat. Producers often reduce the amount of milk it contains and use vegetable fats and thickeners to reach the required fat content and consistency.
- Advice: If the can has a description written on it along the lines of a “dairy product containing sugar,” the chances are it’s been made in the way outlined above.
General advice for choosing food products
- The general rule: the less ingredients a product contains, the healthier it is to eat. Try to remember what constitutes an unhealthy additive. Lists can be found here, here, and here.
- Names that are similar but not identical to famous brands allow producers to avoid observing certain standards of food quality. In some places, companies are able to set their own standards, which may differ from the nationally enforced ones.
- Check products for the presence of sugar, which might be described as “syrup,“ ”molasses,“ “dextrose,” ”sorbose,“ and other names ending in ”-ose.” It can also appear on packaging as E967 (koenlinite), E954 (saccharin) — basically, any additive beginning with “E9.”