Thursday, January 16, 2014

12 Foods Most People Don't Know Are Dyed or Adulterated

Orange cheddar cheese comes to mind as one of many foods people don't realize is dyed. While some food coloring and adulterations are less harmful than others, many exist as toxic threats in the food supply. Almost any food you buy that is not its natural color has the potential of being adulterated, even if purchased from a reputable grocery retailer. 

Food fraud was recently defined in a report funded by the National Center for Food Protection and Defense (University of Minnesota) as a collective term that encompasses the deliberate substitution, addition, tampering or misrepresentation of food, food ingredients or food packaging, or false or misleading statements made about a product for economic gain. A more specific type of fraud, intentional or economically motivated adulteration of food ingredients has been defined by USP's Expert Panel on Food Ingredient Intentional Adulterants as the fraudulent addition of nonauthentic substances or removal or replacement of authentic substances without the purchaser's knowledge for economic gain of the seller.


To my knowledge there are no cows that produce orange milk. Yet, a majority of consumers are unaware that orange cheddar is dyed. Cheddar cheese acquired its classic orange color from annatto in the 1800’s when it was thought that high quality cheeses were yellow due to higher quality green grass fed to cattle. Annatto is known as the “poor man’s saffron” because it can be used to achieve a similar bright yellow color to saffron without the high price. Natural annatto is not itself toxic to human health, however there are some processed forms of annatto which are completely synthetic. This is often not clearly labeled on cheddar cheese ingredient lists and synthetic forms are often being labeled as "color added" rather than "artificial color". This creates an allergenic potential and endangers consumer safety while providing difficult challenges for consumers who experience reactions since they may relate allergic reactions to intolerance of cheese rather than the color, although both may occur. Annatto is also added to butter, ghee and margarine.

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