Food Preservatives….What Are They?
Food Preservatives…What Are They?
One day John came home and said “it’s time for us to move, we love the Midwest. Let’s do this!”.
We built a beautiful house and shop on a serene piece of property in Seymour, MO and low and behold I couldn’t find a job. I searched and searched, interviewed and then nothing. When I thought I would not find something to do, it was John that came up with the idea of selling my sauce and meatballs. If you ask him about my tomato sauce he’ll tell you, “I’ve been eating it like soup for 30 years!”.
When I was first trying to introduce Marina’s Tomato Sauce, I did extensive research on jarring, canning and the overall production of a jarred sauce. I had always made my own tomato sauce, froze it and then used it as we needed. I know not everyone does this so they buy jarred store bought tomato sauce. What I read was in those sauces shocked me! Maltodextrin and sodium benzoate, what exactly are these things? Outside of the natural citric acid that is present in tomatoes, I knew I did not want to add any more preservatives to my sauce. I wanted to bring to the market a healthy, minimal ingredient product that I would be proud to sell and my customers would be satisfied knowing exactly what they are feeding their family.
The first ever preservatives, salt and sugar, were used by our ancestors to preserve meats, fish and fruits on long trips; it helped them to have protein while at sea for months at a time. Large amounts of salt were once used to cover and give taste to rotting meats. Now I understand all of this, they did not have the technology and had not made the advancements in food handling and production yet. To this day people still use methods that our ancestors founded, ones that we honed over the years, but over all they have not changed. Many of our customers can, jar, pickle, salt, ferment, and dehydrate their vegetables/fruits/meats so they can enjoy them year round. However, they don’t add unnatural preservatives, it is all done with salt, vinegar, sugar and high temperatures. No added caramel coloring, flavour boosters or artificial sweeteners. You can eat a canned or jarred food and it still be good for you!
Maltodextrin, what is it? How do you even pronounce it? It is produced from a starch (corn or wheat) and is used in everything from candy and sodas to chips and meat products. It is similar to corn syrup, has a lower sugar content and can replace sugar in some processed foods. Some companies like to use it because they do not have to label it as sugar and (lets be honest) most consumers are lazy and don’t read or care to know what a food label says. Maltodextrin gives a thicker consistency to foods and beverages, prolongs the shelf life and is cheaper to make, hence why it is widely used. “Fun Fact” I learned while researching this blog, maltodextrin is not a sugar but is high on the glycemic index at 130 while regular table sugar is 60. Now why would you want to knowingly eat or add this stuff to your food?
Sodium Benzoate is another popular preservative. It is the outcome of mixing benzoic acid, a benzene compound, and sodium hydroxide together and like maltodextrin can be found in nearly everything. Sodium benzoate is much more hazardous to your health than processed sugar or high fructose corn syrup and it has been associated with a broad range of health problems. Benzene is so corrosive that it is one of the main ingredients in rubber cements, paint removers, and is the number one ingredient in Liquid Wrench. Again, I ask, why would you want to knowingly ingest this kind of stuff? Studies have been done throughout Europe detailing the negative effects of sodium benzoate on your health and most of those countries are calling for a complete ban of it. I don’t even want to touch on caramel coloring or soy; that is for another blog.
Below are three well known tomato sauces that are sold in the United States. I found them in the tomato sauce section of our local supermarket and I was curious to what their ingredients were. If you are wondering what prompted me to write this blog, it was these sauces.
For comparison, here is our Marina’s Tomato Sauce.
There are more additives and preservatives that I could have talked about but I wanted to focus on maltodextrin and sodium benzoate because of how widely used they are. They are in juices, soda, frozen foods but mostly jarred and canned foods. All I can say, and I can’t say it enough, know your food. Know your food and know where it comes from.
For more information on Circle B Ranch and our products, please visit our website www.circlebranchpork.com