Friday, May 31, 2013

What’s in That Big Mac? MUCH More Than You Think


 Time magazine has just run an article entitled What’s in That Big Mac? More Than You Think. The title was a lead in to a discussion of calories of fast food meals. Most people, when asked, underestimate the calorie count of a big mac combo meal by up to 20%. A consistent undershoot of caloric values can obviously lead to weight gain.
That’s why the simple public health policy of calorie labeling on items at fast food establishments, to be implemented early next year, seems to make sense. However, as readers of this blog know, not all calories are created equally. Eating junk food that is high in calories poses risks greater than simple weight gain. the nutrient devoid food, often laced with dangerous preservatives could lead to other health implications.
Did you know that with every bite of a Big Mac, you are chewing on a highly processed formulation of:
100% pure USDA inspected beef, no fillers, no extenders, Prepared with grill seasoning (salt, black pepper),Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, high fructose corn syrup and/or sugar, soybean oil and/or canola oil, contains 2% or less of the following: salt, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, wheat gluten, ammonium sulfate, ammonium chloride, dough conditioners (may contain one or more of the following: sodium stearoyl lactylate, datem, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated monoglycerides, monocalcium phosphate, enzymes, guar gum, calcium peroxide), calcium propionate and/or sodium propionate (preservatives), soy lecithin, sesame seed,Milk, water, milkfat, cheese culture, sodium citrate, salt, citric acid, sorbic acid (preservative), sodium phosphate, color added, lactic acid, acetic acid, enzymes, soy lecithin (added for slice separation),Soybean oil, pickle relish [diced pickles, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, vinegar, corn syrup, salt, calcium chloride, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate (preservative), spice extractives, polysorbate 80], distilled vinegar, water, egg yolks, high fructose corn syrup, onion powder, mustard seed, salt, spices, propylene glycol alginate, sodium benzoate (preservative), mustard bran, sugar, garlic powder, vegetable protein (hydrolyzed corn, soy and wheat), caramel color, extractives of paprika, soy lecithin, turmeric (color), calcium disodium EDTA (protect flavor),lettuce,Cucumbers, water, distilled vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, alum, potassium sorbate (preservative), natural flavors (plant source), polysorbate 80, extractives of turmeric (color),Chopped onions,…
That’s over 80 ingredients, some of which we’d like to highlight:
  • Azodicarbonamide is a popular dough conditioner. It also bleaches the flour (makes it whiter). It’s considered safe in the US at up to 45 parts per million, but is banned from use in Europe because studies showed it could cause asthma or allergic reactions.
  • Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) is used as a preservative to retain color. It may irritate the skin or cause skin rash and even asthma. It is on FDA’s list of food additives to be studied for toxicity.
  • Industrial caramel coloring is made by reacting sugars with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperatures. The chemical reactions create 4-methylimidazole, which in government-conducted studies caused lung, liver, or thyroid cancer or leukemia in laboratory mice or rats. This is why California recently required foods containing caramel color to be labeled as potential cancer-causing agents.
  • Sodium benzoate / benzoic acid are used to prevent the growth of microorganisms in acidic foods. When consumed in conjunction with beverages with ascorbic acid (vitamin C), a chemical reaction creates small amount of benzene, a carcinogen.
We could go on about the MSG-like additives, glycerides, and high fructose corn syrup, but we think you get the picture.
A few more “fun facts”, beyond the 540 calories (before fries and soft drink):
  • 10 grams of saturated fat – which is 50% of the daily maximum allowance
  • 1.5 grams of trans-fat – Nutrition experts recommend a daily allowance of zero
  • 1040 mg of sodium – close to half of the daily maximum

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