Energy Drink of the Month — June 2015: Spider Energy Mimic


I’m a sucker for puns, platitudes, alliterations and bold, symmetrical logos. This month’s pick has it all. Moreover, summer is the best time to try new things, whether it’s exploring a new city or sampling new food. This month’s pick is a drink I wouldn’t normally choose, for reasons I’ll explain later, but I just HAD to try it, for reasons I’ll explain later.

The Energy Drink of the Month for June 2015 is Spider Energy Mimic.

It’s just hitting stores now, June 2015, and a sugar-free version will be released later this year. (Check out this bold label – I can’t wait! I love the graphics!) No, this drink is not called Mimic because it is trying to mimic another energy drink that starts with letter M. If anything, the taste is closer to original Red Bull than original Rockstar or original Monster, but Spider Mimic is more tangy-fruity than either of those.

First, why I just HAD to try this drink:

Green and black is my ultimate favor color combo, and this spider logo brings up some very strong memories of a very important day for me (See box for tangent).

 

GREEN-EYED INSIGHT on SPIDER ENERGY MIMIC

What’s In It and Why?

This energy drink has no artificial colors or flavors, no high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners. It is sweetened by sucrose and glucose only, which accounts for its unique tarty sweetness. If you are less concerned with overall sugar intake and more concerned about HFCS, artificial colors/flavors and sweeteners, Spider Energy is more favorable than many other similar energy drinks. (No judgements – we all have different diet goals and needs)

Spider Energy Mimic Fact Panel

Spider Energy Mimic Fact Panel

The B-vitamin complex is represented, but thankfully Spider does not go crazy with the amounts. Yes, B-vitamins are water-soluble but more isn’t always better (I’ve discussed the consequences of too much niacin or vitamin B6 elsewhere).

From a quality assurance/food safety perspective, I’m glad Spider Energy Mimic uses extracts (Panax Ginseng Extract, Guarana Seed Extract, Green Tea Extract). In general, extracts contain more of the active and less of the background (inherent microbial growth and heavy metal content).

I also love that this label opted to include a chart of the actives. That’s a great way to empower your consumers, letting them know exactly what actives are in your product, at what amounts. Speaking of empowering consumers, the details about what all these actives do is captured in the Energy Drink Guide; to avoid repeating myself or minimizing the years of work that went into said guide, I’ll just encourage you to check this guide out. It is the ultimate resource to all things energy drink and caffeine safety.

Who and What is This For?

This whole can provides 55 grams of sugar, which is too much for many people (including myself). There’s an easy way around this, as demonstrated in this video.

This whole can provides 240 milligrams of caffeine so, with the sugar content and carbonation, by the 5 Levels of Fatigue system, this product is a Level 4: a serious boost that’s best reserved for energy emergencies than for everyday consumption. If you’re working two jobs, if you’re pulling all-nighters to move out of your apartment by the deadline, or it’s your turn to stay up all night scouring the city and fighting crime, this drink is appropriate. If you consume this drink multiple times a week you may be getting your body too used to large amounts of caffeine.

NOTE – According to the European Food Safety Authority, a single dose of 200mg caffeine, with a daily maximum dose of up to 400mg caffeine is considered safe. But I personally recommend that caffeine consumers try to get by on as little caffeine as possible, so that when you REALLY need it, the caffeine will be able to do its job. This is what the 5 Levels of Fatigue is all about – finding the drink with the attributes that match how tired you are, preventing over-consumption and dependence.

Meet Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider Energy

Founded in 2009 under The Masters of Beverages, Spider Energy strives to be better than the “Big 3″. With a specific call-out to each on their main page, the main mission of Spider was captured perfectly in the following announcement from BevNet:

 Bottom Line

Spider Energy Mimic is not for everyone. Energy drinks, in general, are not for everyone, but even this particular energy drink is not for all energy drink consumers. It has a cleaner ingredient line than many of its competitors, so if the sugar is too much for you (and my nifty little trick in the video above doesn’t appeal to you), I HIGHLY recommend seeking the Sugar Free Mimic, coming soon.

REFERENCES AND RELATED LINKS

Spider Energy Home

Caffeine Informer on Spider Energy (click the image)

 

The Energy Drink Guide — your one-stop reference for the common energy drink ingredients: what they are, where they come from, what they (are supposed to) do, and how much is too much

 

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/05/06/404626500/panera-is-the-latest-to-drop-artificial-ingredients-from-its-food

Panera Know-No List — Part III: Meet the Color/Flavor Enhancers


There’s nothing inherently wrong with a food company making a commitment to a clean label, as long as there’s some effort to explain the WHY. WHY is Ingredient X coming out? WHY was it in there in the first place? WHY do people prefer Ingredient X to Ingredient X-prime?

In this post, we continue deconstructing Panera’s No No list. [For Part I, Overall Response, and Part II, Sweeteners, see previous posts]. For each ingredient, you’ll find a brief explanation of its purpose, safety concerns if any, and whether a natural counterpart can perform as well or better.

Part III of V – Colors and Flavor Enhancers

*These ingredient assessments below are part of a collaborative effort, and I thank all who have helped me compile this information. See “FOR MORE INFO” for resources. Contact me on Twitter @GreenEyedGuide for the opportunity to join them in completing and improving this project.

[The official Panera No No List is available here; replicated below.] Ingredients discussed in this post are red.

Acesulfame K (Acesulfame Potassium or “Ace-K”)
Alum (Aluminum Ammonium Sulfate/Aluminium Potassium Sulfate)
Aluminum Calcium Silicate/Bentonite
(Calcium Aluminosilicate, Calcium
Silicoaluminate, Sodium Calcium Silicoaluminate)
Ammonium Chloride
Artificial Colors
(Synthetic and Certified FD&C)
Artificial Flavors
Aspartame
Astaxanthin
Autolyzed Yeast Extract
Azo Dyes
Azodicarbonamide
Benzoic Acid
Benzyl Alcohol/Benzoyl Peroxide
(Synthetic only)
BHA
(Butylated Hydroxyanisole)
BHT
(Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
Bromated Flour
Brominated Vegetable Oil
Caffeine
(Added, not naturally occurring)
Calcium Bromate
Calcium Peroxide
Calcium Sorbate
Canthaxanthin
Caprocaprylobehenin
Caramel Color
(Classes II-IV)
Carboxymethyl Cellulose
Carmine/Cochineal
DATEM
(Diacetyl Tartaric Acid)
Diacetyl/Acetoin
Dipotassium Sulfate
Disodium Guanylate
(GMP)
Disodium Inosinate
(IMP)
E D TA
(Calcium Disodium EDTA/Disodium
Dihydrogen EDTA)
Esters of Fatty Acids
Ethoxyquin
Fat Substitutes
(Sucrose Polyester, Microparticulated
Whey Protein Concentrate)
FD&C Colors
Glycerides
(Mono & Diglycerides, all forms)
Glycerol Ester of Wood Rosin
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
Hydrogenated Starch
Hydrolyzed Soy or Corn Protein
Lard
L-Cysteine
(Cystine)
Maltodextrin
Monosodium Glutamate/
Sodium Glutamate
(Added MSG, not naturally occuring)
Neotame
Nitrates/Nitrites
(Added, not naturally occuring)
Parabens (all)
Partially Hydrogenated Oils
/Artificial Trans Fat
Polydextrose
Polysorbates (all)
Potassium Benzoate
Potassium Bisulfate
Potassium Bromate
Potassium Lactate
Potassium Sorbate
Proprionates
(Calcium, Sodium)
Propyl Gallate
Propylene Glycol
Propylene Glycol Alginate
Saccharin
(Calcium Saccharin)
Salatrim
Silicones/Siloxanes
(Methyl Silicon, Dimethylpolysiloxane)
Artificial Smoke Flavor
Sodium Benzoate
Sodium Diacetate
Sodium Erythorbate
Sodium Lactate
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium Metabisulfite
Sodium Phosphate/
Trisodium Phosphate
Stannous Chloride
Sucralose
Sucroglycerides
Sulfites
(Added, not naturally occurring)
Sulfur Dioxide
Tertiary Butylhydroquinone
(TBHQ)
Theobromine
(Added, not naturally occurring)
Titanium Dioxide
Triacetin/Glycerol Triacetate
Vanillin

Artificial Colors (Synthetic and Certified FD&C); Azo Dyes, FD&C Colors (NOTE- multiple separate entries on the list, combined for convenience)

  • NAMING CLARIFICATION:FDA classifies colour additives as either “certified” or “exempt from certification.” The former is also referred to as artificial or synthetic; and the latter, by default, is often characterized as “natural.” However, in the United States, federal regulations prevent any colour additive from legally being called natural. FDA also does not consider any colour added to a food product to be natural. [emphasis added, – Read the rest at “Appearance Matters”, excerpt from Food Product Design]
  • PURPOSE: Offset color loss due to exposure to light, air, temperature extremes, moisture and storage conditions; correct natural variations in color; enhance colors that occur naturally; provide color to colorless and “fun” foods – From Food Insight, Food Ingredients and Colors;
  • BENEFIT OVER NATURAL COUNTER-PART: In short, stability. “For example, DDW’s Ondracek notes some anthocyanins — the source of the red, blue and purple colors in plums, purple cabbage, cherries and blueberries — are prone to browning and fading and are affected by the pH of certain formulations. Turmeric, a root used for yellow coloring, is light sensitive, and both beta-carotene and annatto can be prone to oxygen degradation. … In addition, flavor compounds extracted with the color from radishes and red cabbage can impart a strong odor when used in large amounts in a formulation. – From “Should Your Products Go Natural?”
  • SAFETY NOTES: The list of color additives the FDA does and does not permit can be found here (FDA); The CSPI puts color additives in the “Avoid” category, and this is a valid opinion, but it is not a sentiment shared other groups in the industry. The International Food Information Council, the Institute of Food Technologists, the FDA, and the European Food Safety Authority take more precautionary positions and indicate there is no conclusive link between color additives and hyperactivity. (Source: Food Insight link above and links in “For More Info”, below)
  • FOR MORE INFO: IFIC “Hot Topic: Food Colors”; Food Business News “Naturally Vibrant Colors”; IFTColoring Foods and Beverages

.Artificial Flavors

  • PURPOSE: To deliver the sensory impression of a food or beverage product; note the official definition for NATURAL FLAVOR, according to the US Code of Federal Regulations:

Natural flavors in the United States are defined in 21 CFR 101.22, as “the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.” – From “Natural Flavors Hit the Label”, by Donna Berry, in Food Product Design

  • BENEFIT OVER NATURAL COUNTER-PART: In short, artificial flavors usually last longer and cost less, depending on the need for natural resources. In “What is the difference between artificial and natural flavors?”, Dr Gary Reineccius, a professor in the department of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota, answers the article’s title question in a wonderfully detailed (but not jargon-heavy) article.
  • SAFETY NOTES: Safety depends wildly on the amount of the flavor used, for everything is a “toxin” at the wrong dose; specific artificial flavors have brought more concern than others, see “Smoke Flavor, Artificial”, “Diacetyl” and “Vanillin” sections below
  • FOR MORE INFO: American Chemical Society on Artificial and Natural Flavors ; “Natural Flavors Hit the Label”, by Donna Berry, in Food Product Design

Astaxanthin and Canthaxanthin (NOTE- two separate entries on the list, combined for convenience)

  • PURPOSE: Astaxanthin is a carotenoid pigment in salmon, from beta-carotene in algae the fish eats; Canthaxanthin is the synthetic version of that, sometimes called “nature-identical”. Astaxanthin and its natural counterpart are popular for their antioxidant potential.
  • SAFETY NOTES:  In fact this rise in popular demand is responsible for the growing concern of economic adulteration (reported here by Nutritional Outlook). The amounts of astaxanthin and canthaxanthin commonly consumed are too low to cause safety concerns.
  • FOR MORE INFO: Astaxanthin Fact Sheet, by DSM

Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Disodium Guanylate, Disodium Inosinate, Hydrolyzed Soy or Corn Protein, Monosodium Glutamate/Sodium Glutamate (multiple entries on the list; all sources of Umami)

  • PURPOSE: Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) delivers a savory note called “Umami”; Glutamate, the amino acid, has been identified as the source of the umami flavor, and hydrolyzed proteins and autolyzed yeast extract are natural sources of glutamate
  • SAFETY NOTES: A very small portion of the population may be sensitive to MSG but the data is very inconsistent. Multiple countries and organizations have weighed in on the safety of MSG (see image below)

Benzyl Alcohol/Benzoyl Peroxide, Calcium Peroxide

  • PURPOSE: Used as bleaching agents to help deliver consistent color, commonly used for cheese and flour
  • SAFETY NOTES: The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) reviewed the use of BP as a bleaching agent in flour and concluded that treatment at concentrations up to 40 mg/kg was acceptable (WHO, 1964). – From JECFA Benzoyl Peroxide Chemical and Technical Assessment”; Benzoyl Peroxide and Calcium Peroxide are on Health Canada’s List of Permitted Bleaching, Maturing or Dough Conditioning Agents. China banned the use of benzoyl peroxide and calcium peroxide in 2011, but the Chinese Ministry of Health banned them because they weren’t needed anymore and due to response to public requests for natural food and the intake of fewer chemical materials. From China Daily
  • FOR MORE INFO: How and why is flour bleached? by Eating Real Food

Caramel Color (Classes II – IV)

  • PURPOSE: All four classes of caramel are produced through heat treatment of sugar. All four classes are considered safe by the FDA but each class has different behaviors and chemical characteristics that make it more or less suitable for certain applications. For example, a different class of caramel is better suited for the tannins in iced tea than the class that works best in certain chocolate milk products.
  • SAFETY NOTES: A variety of respected organizations have stood by the safety of caramel color, including the European Food Safety Authority, the FDA, the IFT, the British Soft Drink Association and the American Beverage Association – DDW, “The Truth About Caramel Colour
  • FOR MORE INFO: Food Business News, “Beverage Ingredients in the Spotlight

Carmine/Cochineal

  • PURPOSE: Leading natural replacement for FD&C Red 40; Natural coloring that provides a characteristic pink, red or purple hue while demonstrating excellent heat and light stability, extracted as carminic acid from the female cochineal insect, a cactus-dwelling insect native to Mexico and South America. – From DDW
  • BENEFIT OVER NATURAL-COUNTERPART: Carmine/cochineal is natural in that it is extracted instead of synthesized outright. Carmine/cochineal replacements like lycopene (from tomatoes) or betalains (from beets) may not be as vibrant or as stable over shelf-life. Some procyanidins (from berries) change hue when the acidity level (pH) changes so it may be hard to get a consistent color depending on the food. Donna Berry’s article, “Clean-Label Coloring For Dairy Foods” addresses the pros and cons of carmine, why red-coloring is so difficult, and some of the carmine/cochineal alternatives available.
  • SAFETY NOTES: Some people may have an allergic reaction to carmine/cochineal; Vegans, Vegetarians, and others who do not wish to consume products from insects for religious reasons should scan ingredient lists for the words “Cochineal,” “Cochineal Extract,” “Carmine,” “Crimson Lake,” “Natural Red 4,” “C.I. 75470,” or “E120,”
  • FOR MORE INFO: “What is carmine and why is Starbucks taking it out of its products?” from Mother Nature Network;

Diacetyl/Acetoin

  • PURPOSE: Imparts butter aroma; naturally forms in cultured butter from bacteria that produce acid and aroma compounds during fermentation
  • SAFETY NOTES: There are some inhalation risks to the people who work in factories where diacetyl/acetoin and related compounds are made, but the same can be said for the workers in factories that make digestive enzymes; OSHA has guidelines on proper handling for these employees, but the average consumer does not face a safety risk
  • FOR MORE INFO: IFIC Food Insight “Questions and Answers about Diacetyl”

Dipotassium Sulfate

  • PURPOSE: Also known as Potassium Sulfate; Salt substitute in beer and low sodium product; Used in imitation creamers, dry powder beverages, mineral supplements (source of potassium), Can also be used for texture/flow benefits because it works to prevent coagulation and caking
  • SAFETY NOTES: The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that the proposed use and use levels of potassium sulphate in food supplements as a source of potassium and sodium is not of safety concern.
  • FOR MORE INFO: See Noshly‘s excellent overview of uses, approvals and bans from different countries, and diet considerations

Esters of Fatty Acids

  • PURPOSE: Acid-alcohol combinations that provide milk products with their fundamental aromas and fruity notes; From Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking, “Many fruits owe their characteristic aroma to chemicals called esters…A single fruit will emit many esters, but one or two account for most of its characteristic aroma.”

Harold McGee On Food and Cooking

Fatty Acid Methyl Esters do not deserve classification as carcinogens and the available evidence supports the safety of these materials. Our diligent search has failed to locate any peer-reviewed research or publication which would provide a basis for classifying these materials as tumorigenic. In addition we know of no authoritative body that has so classified these materials.

  • FOR MORE INFO: See any of the links above. On Food and Cooking is a great addition to any food-lover’s library!

 

Nitrates/Nitrites

  • PURPOSE: stabilizes the desirable red hue in meats like hot dogs and bacon; also inhibits bacterial toxins like the ones that cause botulism; common preservative in bacon, ham, hot dogs, lunch meats, corned beef, smoked fish, other processed meats
  • BENEFIT OVER NATURAL: Natural sources of nitrates, like celery powder, may be used instead; Freezing and refrigerating cured meats also prevents the growth of the botulism toxins, but freezing doesn’t kill the spores that make these toxins, it just inactivates them (like a child in Freeze Tag).
  • SAFETY NOTES: People are all over the map on this one, and a straight up-or-down answer of Safe or Not is complicated by the fact that nitrates are found in vegetables and hot dogs (among other places). Can we all agree that a diet rich in veggies is good, and a diet rich in hot dogs is not-so-good? Nitrate is not harmful but it can be converted to nitrite by bacteria in food and in body. Nitrites can form cancer-causing nitrosamines in stomach or in frying food at high temperatures. As such, the CSPI puts them in the “Avoid” category for precaution, and the IFIC emphasizes their necessity to control the much larger threat of Botulism. Eighty to 90 percent of the nitrate most people consume comes from vegetables, but this is unlikely to cause health problems because very little of the nitrate in vegetables is converted to nitrite. From Cornell University, “Nitrate: Health Effects in Drinking Water
  • FOR MORE INFO: This article on Don’t Waste the Crumbs is remarkable with its perspective, honesty, level of information, and humor!

Smoke Flavor (Artificial)

  • PURPOSE: Mimics the smokey, charred flavor of food that’s been treated with smoke from burning wood
  • SAFETY NOTES: The concern here is with Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are chemicals formed when muscle meat, including beef, pork, fish, or poultry, is cooked using high-temperature methods, such as pan frying or grilling directly over an open flame. Foods directly exposed to actual smoke have more HCAs and PAHs than products with smoke flavor, or liquid smoke.
  • FOR MORE INFO: NIH National Cancer Institute article, “Chemicals in Meat Cooked at High Temperatures and Cancer Risk” and Fooducate’s article, “Is Smoke Flavoring Safe?”

Titanium Dioxide

Vanillin

  • PURPOSE: Volatile plant compound in Pheonolic family; can be natural or artificial
  • BENEFIT OVER NATURAL: In my experience, the most challenging part about finding a Vanilla flavor is that there are almost too many options (Do you want creamy, buttery, light, white-chocolatey…) , But powdered Vanillin, specifically, can be wicked-expensive compared to artificial Vanillin. The article here by Chemical and Engingeering News covers the many routes to naturally derived Vanillin (…now about that Beavers source…make sure you also read the “For More Info” links)
  • SAFETY NOTES: See Artificial Flavors, above; and the two links below
  • FOR MORE INFO:  Now, about the beaver extract “Does Beaver Tush Flavor Your Strawberry Shortcake?” answered by both NPR’s The Salt; and also by Snopes.

 

BOTTOM LINE

Companies should not be criticized for making clean-label commitments like this. However, consumers would benefit much more from moves like this if the companies are more transparent about WHY each ingredient is coming out, and what that ingredient was doing in the food in the first place. If you believe in this type of transparency, this type of consumer awareness, help me share this information.

RELATED READING

Here & NowDoes Removing Artificial Ingredients Mean Healthier Food?

John Coupland, a professor of food science at Penn State University, talks with Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti about what these additives are, and why more and more companies have been making moves to eliminate them in foods.

Science Meets FoodRenouncing Pronounce-ability

It’s important to ask questions about your food, but that doesn’t mean you should be afraid of it.

Response Part I to Panera’s No-No List

Panera KNOW-No List Part II – Meet the Sweeteners

Panera Know-No List — Part II: Meet the Ingredients


Panera, among other food companies, has announced a commitment to removing certain ingredients from their products. While many in the food science industry have mixed feelings about this decision, this is an opportunity to help consumers understand what is in their food (and why).

At the time of this post, there are numerous sites dedicated to presenting information on food ingredients, but some of those sites seem more about fear than food science. There have been several insightful articles on Panera’s initiative [See Related Reading, below, for my favorites], but to date, no site has accumulated the credible information and assembled it to directly correspond to the ingredients on the Panera No No List. Until now.

For each ingredient on Panera’s list, I’ve* collected the pertinent information about why that ingredient is used in food in the first place. For each ingredient, you’ll find a brief explanation of its purpose, safety concerns if any, and whether a natural counterpart can perform as well or better.

*This list has been a collaborative effort, and I thank all who have helped me compile this information. See “FOR MORE INFO” for resources and contact me on Twitter @GreenEyedGuide for the opportunity to join them in completing and improving this project.

[The official Panera No No List is available here; replicated below.]

Acesulfame K (Acesulfame Potassium or “Ace-K”)
Alum (Aluminum Ammonium Sulfate/Aluminium Potassium Sulfate)
Aluminum Calcium Silicate/Bentonite
(Calcium Aluminosilicate, Calcium
Silicoaluminate, Sodium Calcium Silicoaluminate)
Ammonium Chloride
Artificial Colors
(Synthetic and Certified FD&C)
Artificial Flavors
Aspartame
Astaxanthin
Autolyzed Yeast Extract
Azo Dyes
Azodicarbonamide
Benzoic Acid
Benzyl Alcohol/Benzoyl Peroxide
(Synthetic only)
BHA
(Butylated Hydroxyanisole)
BHT
(Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
Bromated Flour
Brominated Vegetable Oil
Caffeine
(Added, not naturally occurring)
Calcium Bromate
Calcium Peroxide
Calcium Sorbate
Canthaxanthin
Caprocaprylobehenin
Caramel Color
(Classes II-IV)
Carboxymethyl Cellulose
Carmine/Cochineal
DATEM
(Diacetyl Tartaric Acid)
Diacetyl/Acetoin
Dipotassium SulfateDisodium Guanylate
(GMP)
Disodium Inosinate
(IMP)
E D TA
(Calcium Disodium EDTA/Disodium
Dihydrogen EDTA)
Esters of Fatty Acids
Ethoxyquin
Fat Substitutes
(Sucrose Polyester, Microparticulated
Whey Protein Concentrate)
FD&C Colors
Glycerides
(Mono & Diglycerides, all forms)
Glycerol Ester of Wood Rosin
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
Hydrogenated Starch
Hydrolyzed Soy or Corn Protein
Lard
L-Cysteine
(Cystine)
Maltodextrin
Monosodium Glutamate/
Sodium Glutamate
(Added MSG, not naturally occuring)
Neotame
Nitrates/Nitrites
(Added, not naturally occuring)
Parabens (all)
Partially Hydrogenated Oils
/Artificial Trans Fat
Polydextrose
Polysorbates (all)
Potassium Benzoate
Potassium Bisulfate
Potassium Bromate
Potassium Lactate
Potassium Sorbate
Proprionates
(Calcium, Sodium)
Propyl Gallate
Propylene Glycol
Propylene Glycol Alginate
Saccharin
(Calcium Saccharin)
Salatrim
Silicones/Siloxanes
(Methyl Silicon, Dimethylpolysiloxane)
Artificial Smoke Flavor
Sodium Benzoate
Sodium Diacetate
Sodium Erythorbate
Sodium Lactate
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium Metabisulfite
Sodium Phosphate/
Trisodium Phosphate
Stannous Chloride
Sucralose
Sucroglycerides
Sulfites
(Added, not naturally occurring)
Sulfur Dioxide
Tertiary Butylhydroquinone
(TBHQ)
Theobromine
(Added, not naturally occurring)
Titanium Dioxide
Triacetin/Glycerol Triacetate
Vanillin

Part II of V – Sugars and Alternative Sweeteners

Acesulfame K, Acesulfame potassium, or “Ace-K”

  • PURPOSE: Low-calorie sweetener 200 times sweeter than sugar, often used in combination with other low-calorie sweeteners to enhance taste of food products like baked goods, frozen desserts, beverages and dessert mixes
  • SAFETY NOTES: Has been used around the world for 15 years; used in the US since 1988
  • FOR MORE INFO: IFIC Food Insight’sEverything You Need to Know About Ace-K

 

Aspartame

  • PURPOSE: Low-calories sweetener made from two amino acids, phenylalanine and aspartic acid; 200 times sweeter than sugar, often used in confections, desserts, canned fruits and dressings
  • SAFETY NOTES: The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently published an opinion on aspartame safety (spoiler: deemed safe),
  • FOR MORE INFO: Compound Interest has published a thoroughly informative infographic, which I cannot praise strongly enough, reviewing the chemistry and safety of Aspartame.
Compound Interest on Aspartame

Read the whole article and see the infographic in full at http://www.compoundchem.com/2015/04/28/aspartame/

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

  • PURPOSE: Invented in 1960, fructose syrups start out as plain corn or potato syrup and go through an enzymatic conversion that converts some of the glucose sugars into fructose sugars (glucose is the simplest sugar; fructose is glucose, slightly rearranged in the way you might rearrange a Mr Potato Head). Since fructose is slightly sweeter than glucose (thanks the rearrangement, which is more easily detected by sweetness receptors), less total syrup is needed to get the same sweetness sensation. ***NOTE: Sucrose (table sugar) is 50/50 glucose and fructose; HFCS has the same approximate sweetness to sugar and are usually around 55/45 glucose and fructose (yep, there’s more glucose than fructose in HFCS)
  • SAFETY NOTES: Studies comparing high fructose corn syrup and sucrose consumption in men and women have found no significant differences in outcome measures of metabolism (Am J Clin Nutr)
  • FOR MORE INFO: One of the most entertaining scientific papers I’ve ever read is by John White; FREE ACCESS in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Hydrogenated Starch

  • PURPOSE:  Hydrogenated starches are common sugar alcohols. “Sugar alcohols are neither sugars nor alcohols. They are carbohydrates with a chemical structure that partially resembles sugar and partially resembles alcohol, but they don’t contain ethanol as alcoholic beverages do.” – FROM IFIC Food Insight Sugar Alcohols Fact Sheet
  • BENEFIT OVER NATURAL COUNTER-PART: Unlike high-intensity sweeteners like Stevia or Aspartame, sugar alcohols can provide similar bulk/mouth-feel as regular sugar.
  • SAFETY NOTES: The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) recommends to cut back on hydrogenated starches because they aren’t completely absorbed (which is why they’re less calories than sugar), but, “As with most sugar alcohols, eating significant amounts of HSH may cause intestinal gas and diarrhea.”
  • FOR MORE INFO: See this review of polyols from the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)

Neotame

  • PURPOSE: Neotame is Aspartame that’s been modified to be 7,000 – 8,000 times (!!!) as sweet as sugar
  • SAFETY NOTES: CSPI put Aspartame in the “Avoid” category, but put Neotame in the “Safe” category.  Neotame was approved by the U.S. FDA in 2002 and the European Union in 2010, but is still rarely used.
  • FOR MORE INFO: IFIC Food Insight’s “Facts About Low-Calorie Sweeteners”

Saccharin

  • PURPOSE: The first alternative sweetener, 300 times as sweet as sugar
  • SAFETY NOTES: (when rats get fed WAY too many cans of soda, it’s a fascinating turn of events) CSPI put Saccharin in the “Avoid” category, and notes:http://cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm#saccharin
  • FOP MORE INFO: CSPI on Sacchrin

Sucralose

  • PURPOSE: Sucralose is a sugar molecule that’s been slightly tweaked so our bodies don’t absorb as many calories from it; it’s 600x sweet as sugar, and unlike most of the alternative sweeteners above, Sucralose (“Splenda”) can be used in baking without it breaking down; It’s used in baked goods, desserts, dairy products, canned fruits, syrups and condiments – FROM IFIC Food InsightEverything You Need to Know About Sucralose
  • SAFETY NOTES: Approved by FDA in 1998, and it’s considered safe by government/regulatory agencies worldwide; CSPI puts this in the “Caution” category
  • FOR MORE INFO: IFIC Food Insight “Everything You Need to Know About Sucralose

BOTTOM LINE

Companies should not be criticized for making clean-label commitments like this. However, consumers would benefit much more from moves like this if the companies are more transparent about WHY each ingredient is coming out, and what that ingredient was doing in the food in the first place.

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