I was recently buying some fish sticks to have in the house for Lent. I never buy fish sticks so I wanted to see how “bad” they truly were. So I pulled out my phone and shot the barcode with my Fooducate app (that I wrote about recently) and found out they were graded a B but had a questionable petroleum by-product used in it. The app didn’t have any other information about that particular chemical additive. (It didn’t sound good though. I didn’t buy them.)
However, there is app that probably could have told me more.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) released last year Chemical Cuisine, an app for Android and iPhones. While it currently doesn’t have the capability to read the barcode, it does have impressive data about more than 120 food additives.
“ ‘There is a lot of misinformation and conspiracy theorizing on the Internet about different food additives like high fructose corn syrup or aspartame,’ says Jeff Cronin of CSPI. “We cut through all that and present a science-based perspective. Alternatively, people might see ‘caramel coloring on food labels and assume it’s natural and innocuous. The truth is it’s not natural and there may be problems with carcinogens forming when caramel coloring is made from an ammonia-sulfite process – the kind used in Coke and Pepsi.”
“CSPI is a science-based organization that doesn’t take any money from the food industry, or any other industry for that matter,” says Cronin. “Our executive director, Michael Jacobson, is a microbiologist by training and wrote Eater’s Digest, an early book on food additives. He has helped remove or restrict some of the most dangerous food additives from the marketplace.”
“Sadly, CSPIs research – and now the data in the app – shows many dangerous chemical additives still sit on the shelves of the supermarket. Yellow dye #6 found in Velveta and Doritos, for example, “causes tumors in the adrenal gland and kidney….and may cause occasional, but sometimes severe, hypersensitivity reactions.” Aspartame is also on the CSPI “avoid” list; “…initially thought to be the perfect artificial sweetener, it might cause cancer or neurological problems such as dizziness or hallucinations.”
I don’t expect you guys to have a tremendous conversation about this. I just wanted you to know this app is available to help you evaluate food choices.