As kids many of us fought with siblings to have the cereal box in front of us during breakfast. Information about the toys contained inside the box or ones that could be sent away for with a certain number of box tops was a big draw for little eyeballs back then and chances are the same is true today. But here’s another reason to look closely at the cereal box.
Cereal is a fast breakfast option and one that is still very popular despite the multitude of other quick morning meal choices. Some cereals today focus on appealing to health conscious consumers and in general most of the brands try to present at least some sort of health or nutritional benefit on the fronts of the boxes. What we should all be paying close attention to though are the sides of the boxes where the ingredients are listed. If you are confident that you already know what to look for you may want to reconsider. The last thing food manufacturers want is for their products to be scorned by shoppers but not all of them are prepared to remove additives which are suspected of being harmful from their food. Instead they change the way in which the ingredients are described or switch to less recognized but just as suspect additives. Here are just a couple of the food additives that are suspected of causing illnesses and adverse reactions and some of the known aliases or alternatives.
MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) is probably one of the most widely known sets of initials in the food additive world. Did you know though that at times MSG will be referred to as seasonings? No more vague term could possibly exist but it’s true. Also watch out for terms such as Calcium Caseinate, Natrium Glutamate, Hydrolized Protein, or natural flavors. There are more. In truth we could write a series of articles about the various ways that ingredient names are played with by food manufacturers. So how do you really know if MSG is in your foods? It’s sometimes difficult to be sure it’s not in the foods you eat without consulting your grocer or the producer of the product.
BHA and BHT (Butylated Hydroxyanisole and Butylated Hydrozyttoluene) are preservatives that have been implicated in some U.S. health studies as possibly being both carcinogenic and tumorigenic. These antioxidant preservatives ensure that fats critical to foods’ flavors and textures are not aged too quickly by oxygen and they can also be used to preserve food color or certain vitamin content. Though studies are ongoing and conclusions are still considered a point of debate in the U.S. Many consumers already look for these additives and avoid them. Thus their names have become voodoo among many food manufacturers. But for every preservative name that the American shopper learns to look for there can be several others that fly by unnoticed. For this reason it pays to watch for other synthetic anti-oxidants such as Propyl Gallate.
When you discuss preservatives in terms of harmful food additives you should be prepared for the argument that small amounts of many preservatives have not been conclusively linked to health problems. Don’t expect everyone you meet to share your zeal for avoiding these types of ingredients. And in truth with so much still left to further research caution in some cases is simply caution. Not everything in processed foods will kill us perhaps. Still in the end finding out that foods once considered safe were in fact causing illnesses is too little too late for anyone who wants to take control of what they put into their body. To learn more about the additives that are documented and regulated by the U.S. FDA visit their site.