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Thursday, October 30, 2014

'Chemical Cuisine' Makes Understanding Food Additives Easier

12:38 AM
McDonalds recently announced it will no longer include “pink slime” (ammonium hydroxide) in its burgers. But what about all the other chemical additives in our food?  Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) in fruit bars?  Phytosterols and phytostanols in fruit juice?

Over the past few years several apps have popped up to help consumers figure out what is in their food and if they should eat it. But last year the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) quietly released Chemical Cuisine, an app for Android and iPhones exclusively dedicated to explaining the additives in our food, based on the impressive data collected by CSPI on more than 120 food additives.

“There is a lot of misinformation and conspiracy theorizing on the Internet about different food additives like high fructose corn syrup or aspartame,” says Jeff Cronin of CSPI.  “We cut through all that and present a science-based perspective.  Alternatively, people might see “caramel coloring” on food labels and assume it’s natural and innocuous.  The truth is it’s not natural and there may be problems with carcinogens forming when caramel coloring is made from an ammonia-sulfite process – the kind used in Coke and Pepsi.”

Like many consumer apps, Chemical Cuisine is made to use while shopping to access more information on the products we buy.  But unlike some of its more sophisticated cousins, it feeds directly from the html site and does not yet have the ability to call up data based on bar or QR codes on food packaging.  Yet the information contained within is unparalleled.

“CSPI is a science-based organization that doesn’t take any money from the food industry, or any other industry for that matter,” says Cronin. “Our executive director, Michael Jacobson, is a microbiologist by training and wrote Eater’s Digest, an early book on food additives.  He has helped remove or restrict some of the most dangerous food additives from the marketplace.”

Sadly, CSPIs research – and now the data in the app – shows many dangerous chemical additives still sit on the shelves of the supermarket.  Yellow dye #6  found in Velveta and Doritos, for example, “causes tumors in the adrenal gland and kidney….and may cause occasional, but sometimes severe, hypersensitivity reactions.”  Aspartame is also on the CSPI “avoid” list; “…initially thought to be the perfect artificial sweetener, it might cause cancer or neurological problems such as dizziness or hallucinations.”

Chemical Cuisine can be used on the CSPI website, or downloaded for 99 cents via the iTunes App Store or the Android Market.


This page concern to food sciences, nutrition and additives topics. The information provides thorough and up-to-date information, covering a broad range of topics in the food science and technology. Topics covered include: Food industry, food groups and composition, food chemistry, food processing and preservation, food laws and regulations, food microbiology and fermentation, food safety, food toxicology, food biotechnology, sensory evaluation, and food product development.

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