Haresh Daswani: Watching what you eat

Column by Haresh Daswani

The China milk scare might have dampened our appetites with Chinese food products, after realizing what Melamine is.

For those who don’t, here is the definition of Melamine compliments of Wikipedia: “Melamine is combined with formaldehyde to produce melamine resin, a very durablethermosetting plastic, and melamine foam, a polymeric cleaning product. The end products include countertops, dry erase boards, fabrics, glues, housewares and flame retardants. Melamine is one of the major components in Pigment Yellow 150, a colorant in inks and plastics.

“Melamine also enters the fabrication of melamine poly-sulfonate used as superplasticizer for making high-resistance concrete. Sulfonatedmelamine formaldehyde (SMF) is a polymer used as cement admixture to reduce the water content in concrete while increasing the fluidity and the workability of the mix during its handling and pouring. It results in concrete with a lower porosity and a higher mechanical strength exhibiting an improved resistance to aggressive environments and a longer life-time.

“Melamine is sometimes illegally added to food products in order to increase the apparent protein content. Standard tests such as the Kjeldahland Dumas tests estimate protein levels by measuring the nitrogen content, so they can be misled by adding nitrogen-rich compounds such as melamine.”

The main reason Melamine was used was for diluted milk to pass the protein test. There was no extra protein, just more Nitrogen.

Here are some scarier points (also from Wikipedia): “It is not known where in the supply chain the melamine was added to the milk. The chemical is not water-soluble and must be mixed withformaldehyde or another organic solvent before it can be dissolved in milk.[15] Caijing reported that 99% pure industrial grade melamine, costing¥11,000 (US$1,600) per tonne, is too expensive to put into milk for the purposes of hiding dilution. They speculate that the melamine found in the tainted milk would have come from impure industrial melamine priced at ¥700 per tonne, and that Sanlu’s baby formula melamine content was a result of replacing real milk protein with low cost vegetable protein (such as low grade soya powder), which had large amounts of low grade industrial melamine as filler. Low grade impure melamine would contain other more harmful material, such as urea, ammonia, potassium nitrate, and sodium nitrite. Among these, sodium nitrite is a known carcinogen.”

This is a very grave issue. Manufacturers knowingly and intentionally mix Melamine, which has some rather nasty ingredients, in our milk. To mix this product, they needed the use of formaldehyde, which is a very toxic and nasty ingredient in itself.

Where has the integrity of our products gone? It seems like in the venture of profit many companies will trick and deceive customers into believing whatever they are ingesting is good for them. I am impressed that these same people can still sleep at night.

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for capitalism, and I am, in fact, a businessman myself. But there has to be integrity in what we do. We have to be able to feel compassion for humans and realize that it is never nice to feed others poison. If seriously considered, whatever they are doing is murder, and those knowledgeable about the situation who are not doing anything about it should be treated by the court of law accordingly.

One important matter though is that, it is not only China who is doing such acts. Many companies everywhere are also putting toxic ingredients in our food and beverages without exactly telling us about it.

In a way, at least tobacco companies were forced to becoming honest about the effects of their products, everyone forgot about what hidden secrets does processed food carry nowadays.

Here’s one ingredient you will find in many food products that you would not have been well informed about.

Tartrazine (From Wikipedia): “Tartrazine (otherwise known as E number E102 or FD&C Yellow 5 or C.I. 19140) is a syntheticlemon yellow azo dye used as a food coloring. It is water soluble and has a maximum absorbance in an aqueous solution at 427±2 nm.

“Tartrazine is a very commonly used color all over the world – mainly because it is one of the least expensive synthetic colors[citation needed] – obviously used for yellow, but can also be used withBrilliant Blue FCF (FD&C Blue 1, E133) or Green S (E142) to produce various green shades.

‘Many foods contain tartrazine in varying proportions, depending on the manufacturer or the cook in charge, although nowadays the trend is to avoid it or substitute a non-synthetic dyeing substance such as annatto, malt color, or betacarotene (see Sensitivities & Intolerance, below).

‘Products including tartrazine commonly include confectionery, cotton candy, soft drinks, instantpuddings, flavored chips (Doritos, Nachos, etc), cereals (corn flakes, muesli, etc.), cake mixes,pastries, custard powder, soups (particularly instant or “cube” soups), sauces, some rices (like paella, risotto, etc.), Kool-Aid, Mountain Dew, Gatorade, ice cream, ice lollies, candy, chewing gum, marzipan, jam, jelly, gelatins, marmalade, mustard, horseradish, yogurt, noodles, pickles and other pickled products, certain brands of fruit squash, fruit cordial, chips, tim tams, and many convenience foodstogether with glycerin, lemon and honey products.

‘Tartrazine appears to cause the most allergic and intolerance reactions of all the azo dyes, particularly among asthmatics and those with an aspirin intolerance. Symptoms from tartrazine sensitivity can occur by either ingestion or cutaneous exposure to a substance containing tartrazine.

“A variety of immunologic responses have been attributed to tartrazine ingestion, including anxiety, migraines, clinical depression, blurred vision, itching, general weakness, heatwaves, feeling of suffocation, purple skin patches, and sleep disturbance.”

Azo dyes are actually petrochemical dyes. In a certain level, they can be toxic.

Our nation of processed food, in order to make their product look more appealing, mask it with artificial ingredients which would be “tolerated” by our body, without informing us well about it. If you ask me, I do not care about artificial ingredients, what matters most is that I am informed about what I am taking before ingesting it.

I am a smoker, and a drinker, but am knowledgeable about their effects. I do expect that when it comes to my food, I am also made aware of what the different ingredients can do to me.

Thanks with the blessing of the Internet, we can become more diligent on what we eat. It matters most especially to those who are striving to live a healthy life. We have to keep ourselves informed and we should share what we know. This could be the drive we need to get food manufacturers to become honest and transparent, one most overlooked industry filled with deceit.

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