Q: Which ingredient in jelly beans could cause loud, aggressive behaviour? For two weeks at the end of last term, my son was eating a packet of jelly beans a day and you could see his behaviour getting worse every day. He wouldn't listen, and the teacher was complaining.
A: For the jelly beans in the photo, artificial colours 102, 122, 129 and 133 are linked to behaviour problems. In Europe, a product with these additives would have to carry the warning 'MAY HAVE AN ADVERSE EFFECT ON ACTIVITY AND ATTENTION IN CHILDREN'. This question was asked on the Fedup 2011 Roadshow - the mother genuinely did not know the answer despite working as a health professional. We think this shows that Australian food regulators FSANZ have failed in their role to protect consumers because Australian families should have the same protection as European families
These Homebrand noodles claim "No added MSG", so what makes them so delicious?
ANSWER: Talk about misleading. Look at the Ingredients panel!
The lawyers have written this label technically correctly – there is no added monosodium glutamate (MSG or food additive 621). Instead Woolworths have added 620 glutamic acid, which is an almost identical source of free glutamates. Then there are two doses of the ribonucleotide flavour enhancer 635, which is only added to boost the effects of glutamates. So where are the glutamates? They are very high in the "ingredients" yeast extract and hydrolysed soy protein, plus the "added" 620 glutamic acid.
This Network wrote the Australian Competition and Consumers Commission (ACCC) complaining about the increasing and misleading use of "No added MSG". They told us to talk to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), who in turn told us to talk to....the ACCC.
Here's the packet – is this Mission spinach and herb wrap failsafe?
ANSWER: It looks clean and green, but ALWAYS check out the Ingredients panel:
How many ingredients here are not failsafe?
The worst ingredients are the two artificial colours 102 tartrazine and 133 brilliant blue, which are in the herb seasoning! This wrap also contains two preservatives 282 calcium propionate and 200 sorbic acid, known to affect food intolerant children. Then there's the synthetic antioxidant 320 butylatedhydoxyanisole (BHA) which affects many people.
Five nasty additives in one healthy-looking wrap. It is 1% "spinach and herb seasoning including plus green colour" to make you think it actually contains spinach and herbs.
Are these Skinns potato chips failsafe?
Here's the boast, the "Chip with nothing to hide"
Front of pack claims:
- Gluten free
- No added MSG
- Baked not fried
- Preservative Free
- Made with Sunflower Oil
- Golden Corn Added for wholegrain goodness
- 75% less fat than regular chips
Potatoes, Maize Polenta, Seasoning [Sugar, Maltodextrin, Salt, Acidity Regulators (262, 330), Flavour (Natural), Yeast Extract, Tomato powder, Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein, Spices, Vegetable Powder, Anti-caking Agent (551), Vegetable Oils, Flavour Enhancer (635)], Sunflower Oil, Emulsifier 471, Flavour
No, it hides MSG as yeast extract and hydrolysed vegetable protein and it contains flavour enhancer 635 to boost the effects of MSG 10-15 times. It also contains tomato powder which is a concentrated form of salicylates and amines for those who are sensitive to them.
More information about MSG, flavour enhancer 635 and more label shenanigans at http://fedup.com.au/information/fin-campaigns/product-of-the-year
What's wrong with this label from a food intolerance point of view?
ANSWER: You would need a degree in food technology to recognise that the ingredient "cultured dextrose" is probably the bread preservative calcium propionate 282 or some other form of propionate. Preservatives are required by law to be shown on the label, but this one is particularly misleading if you are trying to avoid preservatives. "Cultured wheat" is another way for food manufacturers to hide the preservatives that consumers don't want.
What is cultured dextrose? WIKI
This is a tough one, as a biologist I can say that the name "cultured dextrose" doesn't really specify what is within. Alcohol could be cultured dextrose, as could penicillin. This is one of those industry vernacular phrases, virtually designed to mask the actual nature of the ingredients. Not to say it is harmful, but without industrial access to msds and other proprietary info about cultured dextrose products like Microguard. I have faced this in my career where I have basically had to threaten the company with discontinuing use of their product if they didn't disclose more. I have read a couple of descriptions that say "various peptides and metabolites"- that could be anything under the sun grown via bacteria or yeast (or even chinese hamster ovary cells), and I would worry about people that have food allergies.
Possibly a far better alternative to the nasty BHA and BHT like chemicals we usually get, but I wish they would spill the beans on my hummus.
What is cultured dextrose? YAHOO
Cultured dextrose helps control the outgrowth of pathogens and spoilage organisms in refrigerated meals. It can replace chemical preservatives like sorbates and benzoates for a clean label, and is particularly effective against Lactobacilli, yeast, molds, Listeria monocytogenes and heat-resistant spore formers.
When MicroGARD is added as an ingredient to a food, the common name "cultured skim milk", "fermented skim milk", "cultured dextrose" or "fermented dextrose", as applicable, is required to be declared in the list of ingredients on the final food.
What is MicroGARD?
- A patented natural, clean-label range for shelf life protection
- Protect shelf life
- Maintain the organoleptic qualities of food
- Meet consumers' demand for natural products
- Organic products also available in this range
And here's another using "cultured dextrose", which may not only be misleading, it may be an outright lie given the claim on the packet about "no artificial preservatives".
Look out for "cultured wheat" too, which is another way to hide preservatives.