The Bad Habits of Ingredient Declaration

These are few ways in which manufacturer can manipulate ingredient declaration. I call them bad habits as its intention is only to benefit their side.

food ingredient listManufacturer have the bad habit of hiding specific ingredient behind their generic names. Using sweetener, emulsifier, thickener, meat  preservative and natural ingredients are common. They are fooling us! There are hundreds of preservatives available out there! How do we know if they are using the safe or not. Perhaps those that are hidden are not.

Too small to read. I am betting most of them are 10 points or way smaller. Reading 12 point font on computer screen and magazine make me feel tired. What more if it is on the oddly shaped food package.

Some ingredients are written in their technical term. Acesulfame k, HCFS-42, HCFS-90, hydrogenated starch hydrosylate and aspartic acid. Who the hell care about those. Anyone need an internet access in hand to understand it well while in grocery. Such trick will consume long hours and deemed not practical. Memorizing every item definition, benefits, functions and side effects is not practical either. I understand this to some extent. They are trying their best to be specific  to a point beyond reach by the masses.

There are too many ingredients. Too many that makes you think it is likely not the way you wanted. Example, mayonnaise basic ingredients are oil and egg. A brand having more than 15 is doubtful to eye of keen buyer.   Ingredient listing is not the thing to blame here though, it is the process which the product passed through.

Ingredients listed on tanzan. A labeling technique employed by bottled softdrinks manufacturer. Series of tiny letters are written on sides of tanzan. Anyone would easily think it is a design instead of ingredient listing. Perhaps many never noticed it. Corrugated tanzan edges make reading more difficult. There are only few crazy persons out there who were as crazy as me reading what were in the list.

Omitting ingredients. Offenders of this did are hard to identify. It maybe easy if you have a sensitive and accurate tongue. Otherwise, it requires a rigorous wet chemistry.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Accepts coaching and consultancy services. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines.

What is Stabilizer E340?

The E Numbering is a system used by the European Union. Every approved food additive has a corresponding E number. It is safe to assume that every ingredient with a corresponding number is safe for use, unless otherwise revoked.

The Stabilizer E340 corresponds to three variants of Potassium phosphates. Namely, monopotassium phosphate, dipotassium phosphate and tripotassium phosphate. A food product having E340 on ingredient listing has either one or mixture of two or more.

stabilizer e340 with other ingredientsIn general, it is an antioxidant, acidity regulator and a chelating agent (for binding metal ions).

Monopotassium phosphate has other surprising non food applications, for fertilizer, fungicide and nonlinear optics.

Dipotassium phosphate or simply phosphoric acid is also used in fertilizer industry. Other applications includes the following: imitation dairy creamers, starter cultures, dry powder beverages, mineral supplements, agar plates and trypticase soy broth.

Tripotassium phosphate.  Function as emulsifier, foaming agent and whipping agent. Can be combined with fatty acid and use as antimicrobial agent in poultry industry.

Added to powdered product to prevent clumping. Three-in-one coffee has it. Don’t be fooled if it is not stated in ingredient listing. It  comes as part of non-dairy creamer.

A Gatorade component.

Have no recorded side effects.
Acceptable daily intake is 70mg/kg body weight. Halal approved. Dipotassium phosphate is listed in FDA as “generally recognized as safe”.

E340 is a potassium and phosphorus source. Generally safe when used with caution and should no be taken by persons having: high levels of potassium and phosphorus in the body, infected phosphate stones and severe kidney disease.

Persons with the following should consult the doctor first before taking supplement: rickets, pancreatitis, hypoparathyroidism, low level of calcium in body, high levels of sodium in body, swelling or water retention, liver disease or liver cirrhosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, bowel movement difficulty, and Addison’s disease.

It may cause the following side effects:  bone / joint pain, low urine, thirst, weight gain, feet and leg swelling and weakness, cramps, tiredness, seizure, diarrhea, headache and dizziness.

sources: 1, 2, 3

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Accepts coaching and consultancy services. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines.

The Freeze Dried Imitation Crab Meat

I first saw the term “imitation crab meat” while eating a serving of instant cup noodles. It was a NISSIN Cup Noodles Seafood. Maybe relative products of different brands also used the same imitation crab  It was just a coincidence that I first noticed it on NISSIN product.

What puzzled me was the word “imitation”. It is synonymous to – fake, artificial and copycat. With the help of science, we are able to  create artificial and nature identical flavors. We are able to extend and or completely replaced real meat with textured vegetable protein (TVP) and soya. Create dangerous milk counterpart with melamine. Produce an edible and carefully hand-crafted eggs. Produce artificial soy sauce and vinegar. So, creating imitation crab meat is not somewhere near to impossibility.

So why create an imitation crab meat even if we know that real counterparts are available and exceptionally delectable?

The first reason is the price and the second is the exceptionally delectable taste. Here, the alimango runs from 200 to 600 pesos per kilo depending on season and place of purchase. The  smaller and more available specie alimasag has an average cost of 200 pesos. Then, if we consider the average meat we can harvest from every crab, the bulk of weight are shells. You may consider venturing into calcium powder processing to convert those waste to cash.

Delicious crab flavor creates demand. The price is obviously not affordable. There’s a gap in supply chain. Producing imitation crab is a cheat way to fill in the gap.

raw materials imitation crab meat

Based on www… imitation crab is made of fish, specifically blue grenadier and alaska pollock. The alternatives  are deboned, ground, mixed with flavors, extruded and painted with crab meat like color.

You might think that the term “seafood” included in package label is misleading. It is not however. Seafood  may refer to all edible creatures within sea.

The “Kani” which the Tokyo Tokyo restaurant waiter told was made of crab meat might be made of imitation crab meat. Perhaps, since it never satisfied my taste expectations.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Accepts coaching and consultancy services. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines.

Silicone Dioxide E551 in Food Powders

What is silicone? Where do I find silicone? Based merely from my observations, it is …

1) use for sealing and fixing sliding glass windows and glass walling.
2) for breast augmentation, for girls dreaming of bigger and heavier future.
3) for sealing holes, maybe, like dripping roofs.
4) desiccant for absorbing moisture, a candy like product found in new boxes of shoes, electrical equipment and even medicine tablet bottles. Every pack has warning, “not edible, do not eat
5) the material for sealing vehicle engine gap/connections has silicone, the cheaper silicone gasket and the more expensive Threebond.
6) the numerous small marbles in bottom of laboratory desiccator glass are silica gel beads function as moisture absorbent.
7) mobile phones and other equipment protectors are mostly made of silicone rubber.
8) glass is made of sand and silicone.
9) about 25% of earth crust is silicone dioxide, silica.

10) most of the commercial edible powders have silicone, specifically silicone dioxide e551. It serve as flowing agent or anti-caking agent, prevent the sticking of powder particles with each other.

According to Livestrong.com, silicone is essential for human health. It is needed for healthy strong bones, maintaining normal blood pressure, good hair and nail growth. It might prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Present in many natural foods and usually never need supplementation. It is a trace element needed only in very little quantity. No RDA data but experts say 20-30mg consumption daily is needed.

According to wiki inhalation of silica dust might lead to silicosis, bronchitis and cancer. So exposure to powders with silicone dioxide e551 might result to stated illness.

I first noticed it in food as part of non-dairy creamer:

– glucose syrup solids
– vegetable fat
– sodium casseinate – a milk derivative
– emulsifier e471
– stabilizer e34
->> silicone dioxide e551

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Accepts coaching and consultancy services. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines.

Differences among salitre, saltpeter, prague powder, curing salt, potassium nitrate, sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate

I will try to differentiate the following term to avoid confusion. Reading from other sources is still recommended as I cannot guarantee its accuracy. One thing is for sure however, all term listed below may cause health problems.

salitre
saltpeter
prague powder
curing salt
potassium nitrate
sodium nitrite
sodium nitrate

What is Salitre? It is a Tagalog term or maybe a borrowed language from Spaniards. Aka saltpeter.

Salt peter is a collective term referring to three substances, the potassium nitrate, sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite. Not sure which came first but I think it was the potassium nitrate. If the term salitre only refers to potassium nitrate, then the claim “walang salitre / no salpeter added” is true.

All three substances shares the same function in food industry. They are strong oxidizing agent use to prevent growth of bacteria especially the botulinum bacteria. It also give the characteristic red color to meat, dull brown instead if not added.

Degradation occurs when meat is heated. Degradation product called amines combine with nitrite forming nitrosamines – a well known carcinogen. Sodium nitrite, obviously, is not recommended. Potassium nitrate and sodium nitrate are used instead cause nitrate do not bind with amines. Sodium nitrate is preferred cause it is more heat stable. However, both nitrate substances convert to nitrite inside human body and may bind to available amines. Nitrosamines are also formed when the cured meat is cooked over high temperature for prolonged period.

The prague powder , aka curing salt or the pink salt. According wiki, prague powder 1 contains 93.75% table salt and 6.25% sodium nitrite while prague powder 2 contains both sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite.

Refer to “Curing Salt / Prague Powder, Composition and Safety Issues” to know its side effects.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Accepts coaching and consultancy services. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines.

How to Make a Finer Brown Sugar

Sounds crazy but there are instances when a finer sugar crystal is needed. e.g. I used brown sugar to make polvoron and pastillas. I found the sugar crystals too big and gritty. It was so noticeable. It could be clearly distinguished from the rest of ingredients. Sounds of cracking sugar crystal were heard.  If I were going to sell it, customers gonna know easily that I used brown sugar instead of white. They might as well reject it.

Other reasons:

1) Regular sugar crystals are gritty and feel rough when rubbed in between palms. Some have smaller sizes and feel smoother. I prefer the smaller granules but it is not always available.

2) Confectioners’ sugar is a very fine sugar. It will save the time and effort of grinding. However, brands for commercial use contains cornstarch and anti-caking agents and maybe some other unfamiliar chemicals. Common label tells about 3% cornstarch. Cheating is a common practice so it might be higher than declared. Plus the anti-caking agent. We never know the specifics of this agent, it maybe or it may not be safe.

3) Choosing brown sugar will free us from any chemical traces brought by refining. Grinding it further manually gonna make us more relieved.

How to:

a) Get the manually operated coffee/corn mill. Wash it well and dry. It is necessary to remove dirt and any residues of previous milling job.

b) Assemble it on sturdy table. Adjust burr tightness. Place the sugar in mill cone and start grinding. Repeat this process until you are satisfied with the particle size. Tighten the burr for even finer ground.

This was the result I got after five passes.

brown sugar after milling

And this was the original form before milling.

brown sugar crystal before milling

Manual mill is recommended for the process. Electric powered mill generates too much heat that can melt sugar. We want powdered sugar, not syrup. Slow motor speed and burr cooling mechanism might solve the problem.

Electric blenders might as well melt the sugar. On the other hand, slow blade rotation will not accomplish anything.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Accepts coaching and consultancy services. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines.