Looking at the Nutrition Facts on the back of some products can transport me right back to high school chemistry class. I can see Mr. Podojil standing over me as I stared, vacant-eyed, at the periodic table. I didn’t understand chemistry then, and I understand it even less now. But it does pay to understand a few tricks employed by less-than-scrupulous food manufacturers who want to lure you into consuming more fat, sugar and salt than you should or need – because all three of those ingredients are powerfully addictive and once you’re hooked, you’re a buyer of their products for life. I came across these “refresher” tidbits while reading Forks Over Knives (a kind of a how-to guide about how to eat a plant-based, low-fat diet, based on the recent movie by the same name).
Manufacturers employ something called “label splitting,” which means that they take an ingredient – something, shall we say, fairly undesirable – and they break it up throughout the list of ingredients. This is common when listing sugars since many products contain more than one kind (i.e., sugar, HFC, beet sugar, etc. Even some table salts have sugar in them.). That way the top ingredient isn’t simply “sugar,” (even though by weight it IS the main ingredient) so you are fooled into thinking the highest-by-weight ingredient is, perhaps, flour – which doesn’t sound nearly as bad. I found a list of fifty different kinds of sugar that can be tucked into food products and below is a sampling:
Barley Malt Syrup
Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids
Dehydrated Cane Juice
Fruit juice concentrate
High-fructose corn syrup
Sorghum or sorghum syrup
Or how about this one? I discovered this not too long ago from a cookbook, but ran across it again in Forks Over Knives. Even some “dairy-free” products – “vegan” cheese, for instance – can contain dairy! Look for these words on the label:
casein, whey, whey protein, albumen, caseinate, sodium caseinate, lactose, lactic acid, rennet and rennin
When I checked the package of “dairy-free” cheese I had in my refrigerator – I saw that it contained casein. Into the trash it went. Now I don’t even bother with vegan cheese. The list of ingredients is just way too long and scary (bringing back those high school chemistry class memories again) – even without the hidden dairy.