A friend’s husband attended an OSHA workshop last week and the facilitator of the class gave the above handout to the attendees. Apparently the man teaching the class is very much into spreading the word about chemicals that people come into contact with on a regular basis and may not know about. It’s crazy to think that when you bite into an ice cream cone that you may be ingesting an ingredient found in rubber cement or one found in antifreeze, yet it is very possible, as I found out with a little digging.
While these are actual ingredients in many ice cream brands, you will most likely never see them listed. This is because of some ‘loopholes’ in the law. For one, these ingredients may be deemed as a natural flavor, flavor or spice, in which case these terms cover a host of ingredients used in a product. Secondly, they may be hidden under the term “incidental additive,” a class of additives “that are not considered ingredients and yet can be present in a food. An “incidental additive” is exempt if, according to the regulations, it is present at “insignificant levels” and has no “technical or functional effect” in a food. “Incidental additives” are discussed in a section (of the FDA Guidelines) called “exemptions” and are some of the more open-ended of the regulations. As a result, they permit a broad range of interpretation”(Kashrut). And last, “The FDA allows food manufacturers to round to zero any ingredient that accounts for less than 0.5 grams per serving. So while a product may claim to be “gluten-free” or “alcohol-free,” it can legally contain up to 0.5 grams per serving. While this may seem like an insignificant amount, over time this small fraction can add up”(SixWise).
Be it a large or small quantity, I don’t want my children consuming anything that is clearly not meant to be eaten. I know this probably leaves a lot of people wondering who to trust when it comes to our food and the only answer I have is to trust yourself. The more you can make and grow at home the better. The other thing you can do is reach out to the smaller companies producing organic or ‘healthy’ foods and ask them questions. I am sure they’ll be happy to answer and you can gage for yourself whether their food is worth eating!
Food Nutrition Labels: Six Catches You Need to Know. SixWise.com. Web. February 7, 2012.
Price, Gavriel. Food Ingredients Labels: A Primer on Regulations. Kashrut.com. July 2003. Web. February 7, 2012.
* You can find this information on the FDA website, however, your searching will be tedious and cumbersome. Here is their site: http://www.fda.gov/food/labelingnutrition/default.htm