Institute of Food Technologists cites that processing can include but is not limited to: "washing, grinding, mixing, cooling, storing, heating, freezing, filtering, fermenting, extracting, extruding, centrifuging, frying, drying, concentrating, pressurizing, irradiating, microwaving, and packaging." Respectively, this means almost all food has been processed to an extent before arriving to your mouth. Processed foods are not the only danger needed to be looked for while grocery shopping.
Reading nutrition labels means looking at more than calories and total sugar rate. The ingredients used in foods can be harmful to your body in high quantities. Ingredients people are consuming are used in daily products such as office supplies, cutlery, explosives, cosmetics and hygiene products, car care products or much more.
Many individuals have watched their monosodium glutamate (MSG) intake due to health reactions such as headaches, sweating, flushing, numbness of the face and neck, palpitations, nausea, chest pain and sleeplessness. However there is much more than classic MSG that can be detrimental. Not so commonly known is propylene glycol, which preserves moisture as well as dissolves colors and flavors. As a food additive found on nutrition labels, it is also found in ingredients for medications, cosmetics and antifreeze. Propylene glycol is in both Cold Stone Creamery ice cream and Johnson’s baby lotion.
Propyl gallate is an antioxidant found in foods, cosmetics, hair products, adhesives and lubricants. Deemed safe for consumption by the FDA, it is used to protect oils and fats from oxidation. Propyl gallate is found in meat products, microwaveable popcorn, soup mixes, chewing gum, mayonnaise and various frozen meals. Although the FDA says propyl gallate is edible, countries such as Japan, the UK and parts of Europe have banned it for edible use. Animal toxicity studies showed propyl gallate may cause tumors, stomach and skin irritability and allergic reactions that affect breathing. Propyl gallate should be on the brain the next time a box of Stove Top or can of soup is opened.
Potassium bromate is an unnecessary additive used to strengthen bread dough. California has the ingredient on a list of carcinogens, and the International Cancer Agency classifies it as a possible human carcinogen. EWG’s Dirty Dozen says “It causes tumors at multiple sites in animals, is toxic to the kidneys and can cause DNA damage.” Most potassium bromate converts to non-carcinogenic potassium bromide while baking, but research in the United Kingdom shows that bromate residues are still detectable in finished bread in significant amounts.
Carnauba wax is one ingredient found most commonly among what humans eat and is best known as car wax. Carnauba wax is found on fruits and vegetables, Tic Tacs, Nerds, M&Ms, chewing gum, fruit snacks, etc. However, carnauba wax is also found within shoe polish, floor polish, dental floss, tobacco pipes, cosmetics, sunscreen, semiconductors and pills. Lastly it can also be found on surfboards, explosives, knives and musical instruments. A bag of Skittles, a Cutie’s tangerine, Turtle Wax and Covergirl Lash Blast mascara all have carnauba wax in them.
Individuals need to start reading and understanding ingredient labels to know what they’re digesting.