I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to house sit for some friends recently. And yes I’ll admit it, the first thing I did was rummage and poke around in their pantry, fridge and freezer to see what ‘normal’ people are currently eating. I was quite shocked when I stumbled across this particular product hiding at the back of the freezer, ‘Gourmet Chicken and Leek Pies’. I saw the words Gourmet and picked it up to read the ingredients. When I think of ‘gourmet’ I immediately think of real, fresh food made with wonderful ingredients, and I would definitely expect to see butter included and not some cheap imitation like margarine to be included.
As a 3rd year nutrition student, I often get a lot of people ask me ‘how do you know if a product is good for you?’ Most people will do a quick scan of the nutritional panel in order to make their decision based on the macronutrient content (Carbohydrates, protein and fats). However, many people may be unable to make a decision to whether or not it is healthy due to the clever marketing and impressive claims on the front of the packaging, through the supermarket aisles, from the flashing slogans and eye catching promises seen everywhere such as eat this for ‘better health’ and ‘improved digestion’. Not only are we confronted with ingredients lists that are so large and with the font so small it’s a struggle to decipher, it is also often full of unknown numbers, letters and scientific jargin.
The following is a list of the ingredients found in these frozen ‘Gourmet Pies’.
Ingredients: Wheat flour, water, hens breast (20%), margarine [Animal fat, vegetable oils, water, salt, emulsifiers (471, 322- Soy), Acidity regulator (331), Antioxidant (Soy), milk solids, Colour (160a), Flavour], diced leek, thickener (1422), celery, cheese powder [milk, salt, starter culture, enzyme, flavour, Acidity regulator (270)], salt, milk solids, cereal crumb, sugar, Flavour enhancer (621), hydrolysed vegetable protein, spices, vegetable powders, mineral salts (500, 341, 450), Emulsifiers (481, 471), rice flour, flavour, stabilisers (461, 412), colour (160a).
This product contains over 43 ingredients. However when taking into account all of the added chemicals, flavours, colours, acidity regulators, antioxidants ect…
This adds up to well over 200 ingredients! Lets take a closer look at some of the so-called ingredients in this Gourmet Chicken and Leek Pie.
Vegetable oils: Most likely GM, This could be a mixture of oils including palm, soy, canola and cottonseed. These oils are derived using solvents rather than cold pressing for the most part especially in commercial preparations. These oils have probably been hydrogenated, interesterified or fractionated; no doubt more processes are done to these oils to make sure they have an indefinite shelf life.
Wheat: Most likely a GM source. Could
be derived from Triticum aestivum, the chemically manipulated wheat
grain that has not been tested for animal and human consumption and is
now implicated in the increase in heart disease and diabetes as well as
the ongoing problem with autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes.
Margarine: Click here to read Cyndi’s Margarine Report
Emulsifiers: They may be GM, animal derived or palm oil derived. Some emulsifiers seem to be made from partially hardened vegetable oils like rapeseed oil and glycerol.
Acidity Regulators: sodium citrates could be monosodium, disodium or trisodium they are used as antioxidants in food as well as an acidity regulator. Can provoke symptoms in those who react to MSG.
Colour: Colours are purely cosmetic, and serve no purpose for the preservation and taste of food, it is all about the looks. When you see what we know about these colours you have to wonder why they are even allowed in any foods let alone foods OK’d for children’s consumption. The colour used (160a) is prohibited in food for infants. Why is it ok for anyone else to consume it?
Flavour: Lets just have a generic look at flavours. The flavour industry is very sophisticated, there are flavours and varying flavours for everything. Most chemical laboratories manufacture these products and they have thousands of samples to help you choose just the right flavour. Behind the name are a concoction of chemicals and ingredients that number into the 40’s.
For instance strawberry flavouring has 48 ingredients and here they are for your perusal; amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl acetate, ethyl amylketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl
methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone (10 percent solution in alcohol), α-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, γ-undecalactone, vanillin, and solvent.
Flavour enhancer: Also known as MSG (Monosodium L- glutamate), may be a GM source made from sugar beet, wheat, gluten, cornstarch or by bacterial fermentation. Can cause palpitations, pins and needles, restlessness, dizziness, neck pain, headache, migraine, depression, nausea, numbness among others and is prohibited in infant foods.
Sugar: Is a refined food that is 99.4% sucrose and .6% ash. In other words all the goodness is taken out of it and you are left with a mix of glucose and fructose, and it has a lower GI of 54
Hens breast: Probably full of antibiotics, hormones and I highly doubt it would be ethically sourced.
I believe that each person has the right to know what is exactly in the food that they are consuming, to be able to have a choice and be truly informed. Even the smallest change in label reading can make a huge difference towards improving your health and well being by decreasing your chemical exposure.
Here are some Important tips when reading not only a food label, but also household and cosmetic products:
– – In most cases, the fewer ingredients the better, label reading shouldn’t be complicated or hard.
– – Do your homework and keep a list of the worst additives to avoid, keep this in your purse to refer to when you are shopping.
– – Ignore advertising claims and always start with the ingredients list and not the nutritional panel
There is so much information available to help those of you who may be still struggling.
If you would like to know some more important tips read Cyndi’s blog on ‘Reading a Food Label’
Listen to the Up For a Chat Podcast to become even more informed, Click here
And you can also see this link to purchase Changing Habits Changing Lives, there is a whole chapter dedicated to this topic.
Happy reading labels!
Jordan Pie, Changing Habits.