KANSAS CITY — A cottage industry among consumers passionate about the ingredients used in the foods they eat has emerged in recent years and is challenging many food and beverage manufacturers. Very often ingredients with chemical-sounding names that may have functionality across a variety of non-food industries are targeted in an organized fashion for removal through on-line petitions and negative publicity.
The fast-food chain Subway most recently succumbed by removing azodicarbonamide, a dough conditioner, from its bread. Azodicarbonamide also is used in the manufacture of formed plastics such as yoga mats.
The Kraft Foods Group recently announced it is removing sorbic acid from its American and white American individually wrapped cheese products. Sorbic acid has the reputation of being an artificial preservative.
Visit the web site Change.org and it is easy to see where the pressure is coming from. Current petitions posted on the site are continuing to target Kraft to stop using food dyes in its macaroni and cheese products and for Coca-Cola’s Powerade brand to follow in the footsteps of PepsiCo’s Gatorade and remove brominated vegetable oil from its beverages.
This week, shortly after both Subway and Kraft Foods made their announcements, CNN.com published a story listing additional ingredients consumers should be concerned about. While the story is a less-than-helpful gesture for food and beverage manufacturers, it does provide insight into the next wave of ingredients consumers may express concern about.
The CNN story, which published on Feb. 7 in a story titled “7 other chemicals in your food,” listed such ingredients as:
Tartrazine, also known as Yellow No. 5;
Butylated hydroxyanisole, a preservative used in cereals and snacks as well as the manufacture of some rubber products;
Propyl gallate, which may be used to protect oil-based products from oxidation;
Sodium nitrite, a preservative used in meat that has been the subject of controversy for many years;
Tert-butylhydroquinone, a preservative use in snacks and fast-food, but is also a component of some varnishes and lacquers;
Silicon dioxide, which is used in dried or powdered food and beverages as well as an ingredient in some insect repellents; and
Triacetin, which is used as a plasticizer in some foods and in such non-food products as perfume, cosmetics and cigarette filters.The clean, simple label trend is gaining momentum. This past November at the Food Ingredients Europe exposition in Frankfurt, Germany, clean label was the No. 1 trend discussed among the food ingredient exhibitors and food manufacturers and there is no evidence to indicate it is going to abate any time soon. With that in mind, it is prudent for manufacturers to review the ingredients they use and consider alternatives if any of them emerge as ingredients of concern among consumers.