Tricky Food Labels

I got tricked this past week by Trader Joe’s when I bought some organic shredded Mozzarella cheese.  Believing organic would contain wholesome ingredients, I didn’t check the label until I was opening the package to put it into my lasagna.  Boy, was I mad when I read the last ingredient on the package, “cellulose”.  Recently, I have learned from Food Babe that cellulose is wood.  It is used as an anti-caking agent.  Years ago I was saddened when the news reported that the North Koreans were eating wood to avoid starvation.   Deceptive advertising on food labels have hidden the same product in American foods!  Last year, one of my students asked me if I ate certain candies because the teens at her middle school were discussing “shellac”.  This substance is secreted by the lac beetle and used to polish some of our food.  Of course I began to do research and discovered that shellac, the stuff I used in art projects as a kid, is conveniently labeled as “food glaze” or “confectioner’s glaze”.  Doesn’t that sound nice?  Some chocolate covered fruit that I had bought from Trader Joe’s had “food glaze” as one of its last ingredients.  I asked the manager if “food glaze” was shellac and he said that he thought it might be.  There are other deceptive tricks the food industry includes as food additives.  Vanilla ice cream flavoring comes from a beaver body part labeled “castoreum” and bread may include human hair “L-cysteine”.  Wouldn’t it be nice if the labels were honest and disclosed the true ingredients like wood, beetle secretions, beaver’s behind, and human hair?

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