TIME recently featured six food-industry tricks that should
If you shop in a typical US supermarket or big-box store, there may be
more to your food purchases than meets the eye. Even the simplest of
foods – apples, oranges, and chicken, for example – are commonly
altered, treated with chemicals, or even injected with artificial
If you value pure real food, there's no getting around the fact that
buying your food directly from a farm (or via a farmer's market), or,
alternatively, growing it in your own backyard, are among the last
remaining ways to secure such unadulterated food for your family.
6 Food-Industry Tricks That Might Shock You
TIME recently featured six food-industry tricks that should be common
knowledge, but instead are mostly swept under the carpet. The food
industry would rather you believe that your apple is just an apple,
rather than a fruit with an added wax coating, for example – and
that's only the tip of the iceberg.
As TIME reported:
"Your food goes through a lot to make it to you, from being treated
with antibiotics to getting a chlorine bath and a wax coating. Many of
these steps are no big deal, but some are bad for your health."
1. Farm-Raised Salmon Is "Colored' Pink"
Wild salmon swim around in the wild, eating what nature programmed
them to eat. Their nutritional profile is more balanced and complete,
with micronutrients, fats, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants like
astaxanthin, which gives salmon its naturally pink, or in the case of
sockeye salmon, red-colored, flesh.
Farmed salmon, on the other hand, are fed an artificial diet
consisting of low cost grain products like corn and soy (most of which
is genetically modified), along with chicken and feather meal,
artificial coloring, and synthetic astaxanthin.
Ironically, synthetic astaxanthin, which is not approved for human
consumption, is permitted to be used in fish feed that humans
ultimately eat. How rational is that?
Synthetic astaxanthin is added to turn farmed raised salmon flesh pink
– the color most people expect their salmon to be. Natural salmon get
astaxanthin from green algae. However, farmed salmon, without these
synthetic "pigment pellets" added to their diets, would be an
unappetizing grey color.
There are other reasons to avoid farm-raised salmon (and farm-raised
seafood of all kinds). For instance, levels of critical omega-3 fats
are often reduced by about 50 percent in farmed salmon, compared to
wild salmon, due to these fish consuming grain and legume (e.g. soy)
The other issue with farmed salmon is the high levels of contaminants.
The Norwegian Department of Health has raised serious concerns about
high levels of contaminants in farm-raised salmon. These toxic
contaminants bind to the fat molecules in fish, and when these fish
are often ground up and added to fishmeal fed to farm raised fish
along with other toxic fishfeed and additional added high-fat fish
oils, ultimately these molecules can enter your body where they bind
to your cells.
In 2006, Russia actually banned Norwegian farmed salmon, claiming it
contained excessive amounts of lead and cadmium (originating from the
Norway is the world's top producer of farmed salmon. Last year,
reports of farmed salmon toxicity actually spread through Norwegian
news, and the Norwegian Health Department went on the record warning
against eating too much farmed salmon due to contamination concerns.
2. Your Oranges Might Be Dyed
Why would orange producers go to the trouble of dying an orange
orange? Because early in the season, some oranges might not be orange
enough to attract consumers, so some Florida oranges are sprayed with
Citrus Red No. 2.
This artificial dye is toxic to rodents at modest levels and caused
tumors of the bladder and possibly other organs. It is not allowed to
be used in California oranges.
Citrus Red No. 2 is not intended for consumption, but is typically
added to juice oranges. If your oranges are dyed, it should state it
on the bag's label; be sure to avoid using the peel of dyed oranges in
3. Many Foods Are Dyed
It's not only oranges that may be dyed with artificial colors. Your
wheat bread may contain caramel color, as might your roast beef deli
meat. Pickles spears are often dyed yellow to make the look more
appealing, as are countless other foods.
In their 58-page report, "Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks," CSPI
revealed that nine of the food dyes currently approved for use in the
US are linked to health issues ranging from cancer and hyperactivity
to allergy-like reactions -- and these results were from studies
conducted by the chemical industry itself.
For instance, Red # 40, which is the most widely used dye, has been
shown to accelerate the appearance of tumors of the immune system in
mice, while also triggering hyperactivity in children.
Blue #2, used in candies, beverages, pet foods, and more, has been
linked to brain tumors. And Yellow #5, used in baked goods, candies,
cereal, and more, may not only be contaminated with several
cancer-causing chemicals, but it's also linked to hyperactivity,
hypersensitivity, and other behavioral effects in children.
4. Produce Often Gets a Wax Coating
Some produce is waxed after harvest to withstand the long journey to
market unscarred and to protect against the many hands that touch it.
While the wax is supposed to be food-grade and safe, there are
different types used:
(1) Carnauba wax (from the carnauba palm tree)
(3) Shellac (from the lac beetle)
(4) Petroleum-based waxes
The natural waxes are far preferable to the petroleum-based waxes,
which may contain solvent residues or wood rosins. Produce coated with
wax is not labeled as such, but organic produce will not contain
petroleum-based wax coatings (although it may contain carnauba wax or
The other potential issue is that wax seals in pesticide residues and
debris, making them even more difficult to remove with just water. To
reach the contaminants buried beneath the surface of your vegetables
and fruits, you need a cleanser that also removes the wax.
Produce that is often waxed includes:
Cucumbers Bell peppers Eggplants
Potatoes Apples Lemons
5. Olive Oil Might Be Mixed with Cheaper Oils
Olive oil is a common target of food fraud, in which it is
deliberately adulterated at your expense, according to the U.S.
Pharmacopeial Convention's (USP) Food Fraud Database. Even "extra
virgin" olive oil is often diluted with other less expensive oils,
including hazelnut, soybean, corn, sunflower, palm, sesame, grape
seed, and walnut. But these other oils will not be listed on the
label, nor will most people be able to discern that their olive oil is
not pure. If you live in an area where olive oil is made, buying from
a local producer is the ideal solution as it allows you to know
exactly what's in your oil.
If not, try an independent olive oil shop that can tell you about the
growers, or at least seek out a brand name that you trust to produce
quality oil from your local supermarket. If at all possible, taste the
oil before you buy it. While this won't necessarily be a guarantee of
quality (especially if you're not skilled at picking out all the
potentially subtle taste differences), it can help you to pick out the
freshest-tasting oil possible (and if you open a bottle at home and
find that it tastes rancid or "bad," return it to the store for a
6. Chicken Is Given a Chlorine Bath
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) permits poultry producers to
put all the poultry through an antimicrobial wash, using chlorine and
other chemicals to kill pathogens. We already have a problem with
antibiotics causing antibiotic-resistant "super germs" when used in
the animals' feed, and this likely makes the problem even worse.
Workers in the plants have also reported health problems from the
chemical washes, including asthma and other respiratory problems. Not
to mention, it's unclear how much of the chlorine residue remains on
the chicken when you eat it. In the European Union (EU), the use of
chlorine washes is not only banned, but they won't even accept US
poultry that's been treated with these antimicrobial sprays.
Germans Alarmed Over US 'Chlorhuehnchen' (Chlorine Chicken)
Both the USDA and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claim that
giving chickens a chlorine bath is safe, but that's not enough to
convince many Germans, who are now among the most vocal opponents to a
free trade agreement between the US and EU.
The so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP,
could generate an estimated $100 billion a year in economic growth for
both the US and the EU, but many Germans believe a trade agreement
with the US would compromise their food safety and quality. According
"The phrase 'Chlorhuehnchen,' or chlorine chicken, has entered the
parlance of everyone from taxi drivers to housewives since trade
negotiations began a year ago. An Internet search for the term
generates thousands of results, bringing up cartoons of animals dumped
in vats of chemicals and stabbed with needles. A majority of Germans
believe chlorine-washed chicken is a danger to human health despite
its successful use in the United States to kill bacteria, according to
survey by pollster Forsa."
The US Food Industry Allows These Dodgy Practices That Are Banned in Europe
If it surprises you that the EU may be more forward thinking when it
comes to food safety than the US, it shouldn't. Thanks to a largely
industry-beholden government and regulatory system, Americans are
simply not being afforded many of the same protections given to
Europeans. For instance, the EU has historically taken a strict,
cautious stance regarding genetically modified (GM) crops, much to the
chagrin of biotech giant Monsanto and in stark contrast to the US.
While GM crops are banned in several European countries, and all
genetically modified foods and ingredients have to be labeled, the US
has recently begun passing legislation that protects the use of GM
seeds and allows for unabated expansion, in addition to the fact that
GM ingredients do not have to be labeled on a federal level. In
another example, chicken litter, a rendered down mix of chicken
manure, dead chickens, feathers, and spilled feed, is marketed as a
cheap feed product for US cows. The beef industry likes it because
it's even cheaper than corn and soy, so an estimated 2 billion pounds
are purchased each year in the US.
However, any cow that eats chicken litter may also be consuming
various beef products intended for chickens – raising concerns about
Mad Cow Disease. And it's not only the spilled feed that's the
problem; the infectious agent can also be passed through the chicken
manure as well. In the US, the use of poultry litter in cow feed is
unrestricted. Europe banned all forms of animal protein, including
chicken litter, in cow feed in 2001. Want yet another example? The
drug ractopamine is banned in 160 countries, including Europe, Taiwan,
If imported meat is found to contain traces of the drug ractopamine,
it is turned away, while fines and imprisonment result for its use in
banned countries. Yet, in the US an estimated 60-80 percent of pigs,
30 percent of ration-fed cattle, and an unknown percentage of turkeys
are pumped full of this drug in the days leading up to slaughter
because it increases protein synthesis. In other words, it makes
animals more muscular and this increases food growers' bottom line.
Adding insult to injury, up to 20 percent of ractopamine remains in
the meat you buy from the supermarket, and this drug is also known to
cause serious disability, including trembling, broken limbs and an
inability to walk, in animals. It's also killed more pigs than any
other animal drug on the market. While Europe has remained steadfast
on its Ractopamine ban, including refusing imported meat treated with
it, the US is actively trying to get other nations to change their
minds and accept Ractopamine-treated pork.
What Are the Worst Processed Food Additives?
Processed foods can last a long time on the shelf without going bad,
thanks to their chemical cocktails of preservatives and other
additives. Unfortunately, their makers put a lot of money and time
into strategies to increase shelf life and create attractive
packaging, with little attention put on the foods' nutrient value or
how it will actually detract from lasting health. Limiting your intake
of processed foods is crucial to optimal health, but, if you choose to
eat them, be aware of these worst offenders to avoid if you want to
protect your health (many of these are already banned in other
countries due to health risks).
Coloring agents: blue #1, blue #2, yellow #5, and yellow #6 are found
in cake, candy, macaroni and cheese, medicines, sport drinks, soda,
pet food, and cheese. Most artificial colors are made from coal tar,
which is a carcinogen
Olestra (aka Olean) found in fat-free potato chips causes depletion of
fat-soluble vitamins and carotenoids. Side effects include oily anal
Brominated vegetable oil (aka BVO) used in sports drinks and
citrus-flavored sodas. Competes with iodine for receptor sites in the
body, which can lead to hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease, and
cancer. The main ingredient, bromine, is a poisonous, corrosive
chemical linked to major organ system damage, birth defects, growth
problems, schizophrenia, and hearing loss
Potassium bromate (aka brominated flour) used in rolls, wraps,
flatbread, bread crumbs, and
bagel chips See bromine above. Associated with kidney and nervous
system disorders, gastrointestinal discomfort.
Azodicarbonamide used in breads, frozen dinners, boxed pasta mixes,
and packaged baked goods Linked to asthma.
BHA and BHT used to preserve cereal, nut mixes, gum, butter, meat,
dehydrated potatoes, and beer. BHA is considered a human carcinogen,
a cancer-causing agent. BHT can cause organ system toxicity.
Synthetic hormones such as rBGH and rBST are given to dairy cows and
end up in milk and dairy products Linked to breast, colon, and
Arsenic Poultry. EPA classifies inorganic arsenic as a "human carcinogen".
Beat the Food Industry at Their Own Game: Choose Real Food
When it comes to staying healthy, avoiding processed foods and
replacing them with fresh, whole foods is the "secret" you've been
looking for. Additionally, the more steps your food goes through
before it reaches your plate, the greater the chance of contamination,
alteration, and adulteration becomes. If you are able to get your food
locally, you eliminate numerous routes that could expose your food to
contamination with disease-causing pathogens and other intentionally
added (yet still disease-causing) additives. Quite simply, swapping
your processed food diet for one that focuses on fresh whole foods may
seem like a radical idea, but it's a necessity if you value your
And when you put the history of food into perspective, it's actually
the processed foods that are "radical" and "new." People have thrived
on vegetables, meats, eggs, fruits and other whole foods for
centuries, while processed foods were only recently invented.
If you rely on processed inexpensive foods, you exchange convenience
for long-term health problems and mounting medical bills. It's also
important to source your food directly from high-quality, local
sources so you can determine that your chicken is not doused in
chlorine and your apples are not coated in wax.
Information blogs are based on years of experience by professional colleagues, doctors, herbal healers, drug-free practiners, scientists and research conducted throughout the world, with extensive review of scientific literature and new clinical discoveries. Listed information below is solely intended to be used for educational purposes only and is not intended as a basis for diagnosis, treatment, or to cure any disease.