Will you Pass this Ingredient Spelling Test?

Which lane will you choose?

To help you decide, would you like to play a game?  I love games!

In fact, let's play two games.

The first is called “Name That Food”.

The second is called “Ingredient Spelling Test”.

Let's go!

Here are the rules for “NAME THAT FOOD”

1. There are ingredients lists for two Mystery Foods below.
2. Read the ingredients and see if you can name the food that is being described
3. If you don't know the food easily and clearly, I don't recommend eating it.

Mystery Food #1 Ingredients: Enriched Corn Meal (Corn Meal, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, and Folic Acid), Vegetable Oil (Contains One or More of the Following: Corn, Soybean or Sunflower Oil), Maltodextrin, Salt, Sugar, Artificial Color (Red 40 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 6, Yellow 5), Monosodium Glutamate, Autolyzed Yeast, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil, Citric Acid, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Cheddar Cheese (Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes), Whey, Onion, Whey Protein Concentrate, Corn Syrup Solids, Natural Flavor, Buttermilk, Garlic Powder, Disodium Phosphate, Sodium Diacetate, Sodium Caseinate, Lactic Acid, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Nonfat Milk Solids, Sodium Citrate, and Carrageenan.

Mystery Food #1 Answer:
Click here to see Mystery Food #1

Mystery Food #2.  Ingredients:  Milk, Skim Milk, Sugar, Cream, Caramel Swirl (Sweetened Condensed Milk, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Water, Coconut Oil, Pectin, Salt, Baking Soda, Vanilla Extract), Corn Syrup, Whey Protein, Egg Yolks, Tapioca Maltodextrin, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Buttermilk, Mono and Diglycerides, Butter, Cellulose Gum, Natural Flavor, Baking Soda, Guar Gum, Carrageenan, Dextrose, Vitamin A Palmitate.

Mystery Food #2 Answer:
Click here to see Mystery Food #2

And now, Let's Play “INGREDIENT SPELLING TEST!” Here are the steps:

1. Gather your spelling test words.  I've supplied a starter list of difficult words to spell. Read on about Food Additives, and I'm sure you'll get a few more ideas.

2. Add easy to spell words like “apple, grapes, or eggs”.

3. Gather your contestants (this is to test others, like your kids). Announce that you are going to play a game. The dinner table is a great location for this game.

Here are the simple rules for the game.
1. If you can easily spell it, it is likely in the “healthy” lane.
3. If you are unable to spell it easily, it is likely in the “junk food” lane. Cut back or avoid.

Starter list if difficult words to spell (see Food Additives below for more ideas):

  1. Interesterified and Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed
  2. Sodium Benzoate (Preservatives)
  3. Carnauba Wax
  4. Cochineal extract (see more information below under “How to Get Kids to Eat Real”
  5. Any odd-looking ingredient you might find on a highly processed food.

Food Additives

I am not a biochemist, but I am the daughter of one. To get some summary information about food additives, I turned to CSPI.  (Credit:  The Center for Science in the Public Interest).

One of CSPI's Nutrition Action Newsletters had a cover article called “Chemical Cuisine,” which classified additives as either “safe”, “cut back”, “caution”, “certain people should avoid”, and “everyone should avoid”.  Here are the food additives that they pegged as “everyone should avoid”:

-Acesulfame potassium.  An artificial sweetener used in chewing gum, diet soda, no-sugar based goods and desserts, tabletop sweetener (Sunett).

-Aspartame.  An artificial sweetener used in frozen desserts, diet soda, tabletop sweetener (Equal).

-Saccharin.  Artificial sweeteners in no-sugar-added foods, tabletop sweetener (Sweet’ N Low).

-Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA).  Antioxidant (prevents spoiling) in packaged cereal, chewing gum, oil, potato chips.

-Olestra
. Fat substitute in chips.

-Partially hydrogenated oil.

-Potassium bromate.
 Chemical dough strengthener.

-Propyl Gallate.  Antioxidant (prevents spoiling) in chewing gum, chicken soup, meat, potato chips, oil.

Sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite.  Colors, flavors, and preserves bacon, corned beef, hot dogs, ham, lunch meat, smoked fish.

Here are the food colorings rated “everyone should avoid”:

-Blue 1
-Blue 2
-Green 3
-Red 3
-Yellow 6.

Pretty long list, eh?

On the food coloring topic, a study conducted in 2004 at the University of Southampton in England looked at the behaviors of 277 children ages 3-4 years old.  Over a series of weeks, the kids were given either a fruit drink or a drink made with artificial colors and flavors that tasted exactly the same.  The kids didn’t know which drink they were given.  The kids with the artificial drink were observed as being more hyperactive than those that were given the fruit juice.  Weird, isn’t it?  “We assume that because these things do not make us drop dead, they’re safe,” says Dr. Vyvyan Howard, a leading expert on toxic substances at the University of Liverpool in England.  “It’s not true.  In my opinion, I would recommend that kids just stay away from them.”

How to Get Kids to Eat Real

If you were to ask most kids, “Would you like to have some dead bugs with your meal?”, most would say no.  But that is exactly what kids are getting, in the form of cochineal extract (also known as carmine or carminic acid), in some foods with a pink, red or purple color.  The female Dactylopius coccus costa, small bugs that harvested mainly in Peru and the Canary Islands, eat pink cactus pads, so the color pink gathers in her body and in her eggs. Once harvested, dried, and ground, they make their way into things like yogurt, frozen fruit bars, fruit fillings, and wanna-be fruit juice.  Doesn’t that sound great?  If you were to ask your Grandmother what carmine or carminic acid was, she would have no idea.  She probably wouldn’t even want to try to spell it.  Good things to think about… would grandma recognize this food?  Could she (or I) spell it easily?  If not, maybe it’s not the best thing to eat!  In this case, Grandma would be right, because carmine can cause allergic reactions in some people.  Other reactions to food coloring include hyperactivity, headaches, rashes, and an increased risk of asthma.  Some food colorings (for example, Tartrazine for the yellow color) have been banned in European countries but are still being used by food companies in the U.S.

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