The Western View: Processed Food

Taylor Hillman Features, Western View

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Should you trust your processed food?

The Western View: Processed Food

A recent survey shows that these days people don’t trust their food. They are scrutinizing labels like never before. The top suspects? High fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils or trans fats and anything that sounds like it belongs in a chemistry kit.

In a special report published by Web MD, author Brenda Goodman says that Food companies are reacting to this distrust. She says the strategy is to simplify ingredients and highlight simple recipes. Chemicals are being cut from foods when possible. A few months ago Kraft made national news when it took artificial colors and preservatives out of its Mac and Cheese. General Mills is doing this with its cereals.

It’s called ‘clean labeling’, and these changes, for the most part, should make processed food more wholesome. However, there are shortcuts and in some cases, sleight of hand and word games used to make the products seem safe but without changing anything, or even making it worse. The problem is, we’re relying on the integrity of the food giants as oversight by the FDA is lacking, so guess what, the fox is guarding the henhouse.

The Web MD article looks at high fructose corn syrup. Replacing it with fructose sounds much better – after all, it comes from fruit – but scientists say that sometimes it is the less healthy choice. However, the FDA has not studied the issue and is relying on the food manufacturer’s claim that it is safer.

A worse problem is nitrites in processed meat. When cooked, the nitrites can form nitrosamines, a carcinogen. Some meat processors have taken the chemical sodium nitrite out of their meat and replaced it with celery extract – which is loaded with nitrites that do the same thing but sound much less toxic.

Come on, people. With tricks like these, no wonder people don’t trust their food. We need the FDA to do its job and make these tricksters get back to honest labels.

I’m Len Wilcox and that’s the Western View from AgNet West.