Sneaking Artificial Ingredients into “Natural” Products
Food Label Ingredients
Food Label Requirements
Food labels are required to list the ingredients the company put into the contents, listed in order by volume. Wheat, corn, soy, chicken, eggs, etc. If an ingredient, like “cheese,” is composed of several sub-ingredients – like milk, whey, cultures, sugar – the label is not required by law to tell you the component ingredients of an ingredient. Many companies will just list “cheese” as the ingredient. Some companies will put the sub-components of the cheese in parenthesis and reveal to the consumer what these component ingredients are.
What Does a Parenthesis Mean?
Other times, parenthesis mean the manufacturer has made the label for an either/or situation, rather than subcomponents. It is expensive to submit a label for the approval process, and it is expensive to always use the same oils (it’s usually oils) for manufacturing, so the companies are allowed to give the consumer a short list of what might be in the container.
Example: All Natural Salad Dressing Label
Ingredients: Expeller-pressed Vegetable Oil (canola, sunflower, and/or soy), Apple Cider Vinegar, Soy Sauce (water, soybean, wheat, salt), Water, Expeller-pressed Sesame Oil, Sesame Seeds, Shitake Mushroom, Xanthan Gum.
In this example, the first parenthesis indicates different oils that might be in the bottle. If they are all okay with you, then you can eat this dressing. If one of the ingredients disagrees with you, for example of you are allergic to sunflower oil, then you should avoid this product because this particular batch might contain sunflower.
The second parenthesis lists the ingredients of the soy sauce. This product definitely contains those ingredients.
What Are “Natural Flavors?”
The public does not know. Doc Truli does not know, exactly. VirtuaCat’s food contains “natural flavors” on the label. No one in the public may know what these ingredients are. Doc presumes they are distilled, enhanced, selected, extracted, super-amazing versions of flavors found in nature that make your cat want to eat the food. Who knows?
What Are “Spices?”
We all know about cinnamon, cumin, tarragon and the usual litany of spices. But “spices” on a food label might mean something different you never considered.
Labels may group certain ingredients into terms like “spices,” for the sake of protecting a secret company recipe or unique taste. Few people realize, “Spices” may be a cover for hiding “MSG” – monosodium glutamate. MSG enhances flavors and makes things taste really good. It also causes headaches, muscle aches, and debilitating symptoms in some people. Doc Truli personally avoids MSG whenever possible. There was no example label of anything in the cupboard containing “spices.”
Many health conscious people know that artificial preservatives cause cancer in laboratory mice and rats. Many, many of these preservatives that are banned by countries around the world, are legal in the United States. Food companies know that a savvy consumer will not knowingly buy products containing artificial preservatives like BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin and others.
There’s a glaring loophole that allows food companies to preserve food for longer shelf-lives and therefore, more profitability
Manufacturers may, legally, put the BHA and BHT, and other preservatives in the packaging. The preservatives migrate and penetrate into the food. This is legal. This is how it’s done! Most breakfast cereal companies and many ice-cream companies use this strategy with their “all natural” products.
Is All Food Bad?
Not at all! Every decision of what you eat or what your pet eats is a balancing decision. Pros, cons, availability, palatability. The more information you have, the more freedom you have.
VirtuaCat eats Prescription food from a huge multinational company. There are natural flavors. There are artificial vitamins. He won’t touch wet food. He “cat” egorically will not eat fresh food raw, cooked, or otherwise. So much for the knowledge and information being out into action. He’s fifteen and healthy (as far as modern medicine can tell.)
Do the best you can. Re-evaluate as you learn and grow. This is not a once-and-done kind of project, but on ongoing choice of what you consider healthiest for yourself and your pets.
Next, VirtuaVet tells you about a tour of a US pet food manufacturing plant. Stay tuned!