70 percent of all beef and chicken sold in the United States, Canada, UK and Australia and many other countries contain a growing number of preservatives, meat glues, and antibacterial/antifungal/antiviral sprays. They also are commonly treated with carbon monoxide gas injections to make meat appear more fresh than it actually is.

Synthetic preservatives are added to 70 percent of all factory farmed meat and poultry to prevent spoilage, rancidity and mould growth.

Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Proprionate and Benzoic Acid

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has amended regulations that once banned the use of sodium benzoate, sodium propionate and benzoic acid in meat and poultry products, the Food and Drug Administration has announced.

In combination with ascorbic acid (vitamin C, E300), sodium benzoate and potassium benzoate form benzene, form known carcinogens. If a individual happens to consume any of these toxins after consuming ascorbic acid, a carcinogenic process may initiate.

The three preservatives had been on the list of prohibited antimicrobial substances the FSIS considered to have the potential to conceal damage or inferiority in meat and poultry.

The change follows a petition by Kraft Foods Global Inc., which wants to use the substances to help inhibit the growth of bacteria.

After consideration, the FSIS said it has “determined that sodium benzoate, sodium propionate and benzoic acid, under the conditions proposed in the petitions, are both safe and suitable for use as antimicrobial agents in certain RTE (Ready-to-Eat) meat and poultry products.”

Nitrites/Nitrates

Nitrites and nitrates are also added to meat products during processing toinhibit the growth of bacteria and enhance color. Nitrites may be added directly to the meat product, but more frequently nitrates are added.Nitrites are used in pork, beef and poultry products to enhance colour. For example, nitrates are added to ham and bacon, giving them their characteristic pink colour. Some countries even permit the use of nitrites in fish products.

When nitrites combine with certain amino acids, N-nitroso compounds or nitrosamines are formed and these have been shown to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing). Our primary source of exposure to nitrates and nitrites is through the food we consume, however exposure to these compounds can also occur through drinking water.

Sulphites

They are used widely as preservatives in food to maintain food colour and prolong shelf-life. Sulphites can also be used in some pharmaceutical medications as a way of maintaining their potency.

Sulphites can trigger asthma or an anaphylactic-type reactions. Certain individuals, particularly those with asthma, may react to sulphites with allergy-like symptoms. It’s one reason most pre-packaged foods are required to have an ingredients listing on the presence of sulphites on the label. The pre-packaged food product label will state “may contain” or “may contain traces of” sulphites and sulphite derivatives.

It is important to always read the ingredients’ lists and remember that sulphite derivatives exist and may be listed as:

E 220, E 221, E 222, E 223, E 224, E 225, E 226, E 227, E 228 (European names)
Potassium bisulphite/metabisulphite
Sodium bisulphite/dithionite/metabisulphite/sulphite
Sulfur dioxide
Sulphiting agents
Sulphurous acid

Meat Glue

Produced as Activa by Japan’s Ajinomoto Company, it’s scientific name is “transglutaminase” and it belongs to the family of clotting enzymes which are eight in number.

Meat glue is thrombin, a coagulation protein which together with the fibrous protein fibrin can be used to develop a “meat glue” enzyme that can be used for sticking together different pieces of meat. It can be made from blood taken from either cows or pigs.

The European Parliament had voted to ban bovine and porcine thrombin. The House said the meat glue has no proven benefit for consumers and might mislead them instead. One year later, all but one of the European Union nations voted in favor of using Thrombian, or Transglutaminase (TG). They now joining other developed nations such as the U.S., Canada, and Australia who approved the product.

This sort of thing has been a boon to the food industry, which can now treat all sorts of proteins like meat or fish as just another material to be processed, but in the hands of molecular gastronomists it’s become a way to manipulate food in a way that…

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