What’s in your fast food?

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I thought this was interesting. If we are what we eat, then what does it say about us?
I tried to offer just an excerpt from the article but it still ended up longer than desired. Oh well, some might find it useful.
The whole text can be found here:
http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/stories/8-creepy-mystery-ingredients-in-fast-food

“People have been adding flavors, spices, natural preservatives and ripening agents to food since antiquity. But as the popularity of highly processed food has risen dramatically since the 1950s, so has the astounding array of bizarre chemical additives used in food manufacturing. Fast-food recipes seem to be born more from the laboratory than from farm or field.

All these ingredients are labeled as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe).
These four little words seem to have become the FDA mantra when it comes to food additives; all of the above ingredients, and an expansive array of other chemical additives, have been generally recognized as safe in scientific studies. Taken out of context and looked at individually, maybe a little ammonium sulfate here and a petroleum product there aren’t going to cause quantitative damage to lab animals. But if you were to add up all of the chemical ingredients consumed during a life of a fast-food fueled Western diet, what would that look like? Would it look like an epidemic of obesity, diabetes or cancer?

Let’s look at the strangest of them:


1. Duck feathers and human hair (L-cysteine)
You thought duck feathers sounded bad? How about human hair? These are the two most-common sources for l-cysteine, an amino acid used to condition dough for increased pliability, which facilitates better machine processing. CNN reported that most human-derived L-cysteine comes from Chinese women who help support their families by selling their locks to small chemical-processing plants.

2. Sand (silicon dioxide)
Silicon dioxide, also known as silica (also known as sand!), is used to make glass, optical fibers, ceramics and cement. Oh, and chili. Used as an anti-caking agent, it is often added to processed beef and chicken to prevent clumping, and is listed in the ingredient panels for chili from both Wendy’s and Taco Bell.

3. Wood (cellulose)
Processed wood pulp, known as cellulose, is used in everything from cheese to salad dressing, from muffins to strawberry syrup. Food processors use it to thicken and stabilize foods, replace fat and boost fiber content — as well as to minimize reliance on more costly ingredients like oil or flour. Powdered cellulose is produced by cooking virgin wood pulp in chemicals to separate the cellulose, and then purified. Modified versions require extra processing, such as exposure to acid in order to further break down the fiber.

4. Silly Putty plastic (dimethylpolysiloxane)
Eight-syllable ingredients make sense for Silly Putty, but French fries? Sure enough, dimethylpolysiloxane, a form of silicone used in cosmetics and Silly Putty, is also found in many a fast-food fried thing. It is the secret ingredient that keeps fryer oil from foaming. McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish and French fries have it, as do Wendy’s Natural-Cut Fries With Sea Salt. In fact, most fast-food items that bathe in a deep-fat fryer are imbued with a hint of dimethylpolysiloxane.

5. Petroleum-derived preservatives (TBHQ)
Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) is made from compounds derived from petroleum and finds a home in cosmetic and skincare products, varnish, lacquers and resins — and processed food. McDonald’s, for example, uses it in 18 products ranging from its Fruit and Walnut Salad to Griddle Cakes to McNuggets.

6. Soil fertilizer (ammonium sulfate)
Ammonium sulfate is sold by chemical companies to food manufacturers as “yeast food for bread,” and many fast-food companies list the ingredient in their bakery products.
But that’s just its night job; when ammonium sulfate is not moonlighting as a food additive, it performs its main task: as a fertilizer for alkaline soils. Ammonium sulfate also does duty as an agricultural spray adjuvant for water soluble insecticides, herbicides and fungicides.

7. Beetle juices (carminic acid, confectioner’s glaze)
Food dyes approved by the FDA include colors synthesized from petroleum derivatives and coal tar, but with all of the negative attention paid to artificial food color, natural dyes are on the rise. Yet some food dyes based on natural ingredients come from things that you may not care to ingest. Meet carminic acid, a commonly used red food coloring that comes from the dried, crushed bodies of female scale insects called cochineal. It is used in a wide variety of products ranging from some meat, sausages, processed poultry products, marinades, bakery products, toppings, cookies, desserts, icings, pie fillings, jams, preserves, gelatins, juices, drinks, dairy products, sauces and dessert products.

8. Meat paste-goop (mechanically separated meat)
Mechanically separated meat (MSM) has been produced since the 1960s, but has been enjoying new fame lately courtesy of a photo making the rounds which shows an industrial machine extruding a plump ribbon of pink paste into a box. It is commonly referred to as “pink slime.” Looking more like frosting than pureed meat and bone bits, the FDA defines mechanically separated poultry (MSP) as “a paste-like and batter-like poultry product produced by forcing bones, with attached edible tissue, through a sieve or similar device under high pressure to separate bone from the edible tissue.” “

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