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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Saturday, April 13

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Resource Tue Mar 25 2008

Avoid the French Fried, Artifically Sweetened, Blue Hot Dog!

Food additives are substances that become part of a food product by either adding them intentionally or unintentionally during the processing of food. Intentional or direct food additives are added to foods to produce a desired effect, such as to maintain freshness, improve nutritional quality, assist in processing or preparing food, or make a food more appealing by changing the color or texture. Unintentional or indirect food additives are detected in minimal quantities in the final product.

The Center for Science in the Public interest, a nonprofit educational and advocacy organization that focuses on food safety, offers a chart on which food additives are safe, which are better off avoided, and which are completely harmful. Here are the five worst culprits from CSPI's list. Keep in mind, all ingredients on the list have been approved by the FDA, but some health experts suggest we cut back or eliminate them from our diet whenever possible.

Acesulfame Potassium (or acesulfame-K): An artificial sweetener used in products sweetened by Splenda, or sucralose, which is often blended in baked goods, gelatin desserts, ice cream, and soft drinks. Instead, try fresh fruit juice or just plain sugar!

Sodium Nitrate: A preservative typically found in bacon, sausage, hot dogs and smoked foods. Nitrates combine with compounds in the stomach to form nitrosamines, a carcinogen also found in tobacco smoke. To avoid nitrates, try to stick with chicken dogs, veggie dogs, and turkey bacon.

Potassium Bromate: Used to process flour, bromate has been a hot topic in the last few years. A study by the FDA concluded that that it is reasonable to conclude that bromate induces tumors. While it has not yet been banned in the U.S., the FDA has discouraged bakers from using it. For consumers, its still a good idea to check labels to avoid this additive.

Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil: These "trans fats" are found in crackers, chips, baked goods and some fried foods. Studies linking the consumption of trans fats to premature heart attacks has spurred many companies, including Frito-Lay, Kraft, ConAgra, and others, to replace most or all of the partially hydrogenated oil in almost all their products. Wendy’s, KFC, Taco Bell, Ruby Tuesday, and Red Lobster are some of the large chains that have largely eliminated trans fat or soon will. McDonald’s, the largest chain, expects to complete the change-over sometime in 2008.

Artificial Food Colors: Yellow, red, green, and blue coloring (found in beverages, candy, baked goods, and gelatin) have been on the FDA's radar for quite some time now, with some studies indicating that these additives cause certain cancers. For now, the FDA says that further testing on the issue is required. Until then, try natural sweeteners and choose foods in the form closest to nature.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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