I came across an article in the Chicago Tribune the other day that still has me shaking my head. Apparently, Kraft has noticed “over the last 10 years there has been increased concern about preservatives in our food.” My first question is why did it take so long for you to make a change? Then, I’m wondering if their solution is a worse option.
In an effort to appear more health-conscious, Kraft Singles American Cheese Food are eliminating the use of sorbic acid from two varieties of their processed slices (manufactured individually, not sliced from a brick of cheese).
Though, when a company eliminates ingredients (like any non-fat, no-sugar option), it has to add ingredients to ensure the same familiar taste. In this case, in place of sorbic acid Kraft is adding natamycin plus a “proprietary, unnamed ingredient”.
Natamycin is derived from a fermentation process of a specific bacteria (Streptomyces natalensis) found in South African soil-thereby a “natural” preservative. While natamycin is used to “fight fungal growth, molds and yeasts on the surface of cheese, dairy products, and meats“, due to its antibiotic properties, natamycin can also be found in topical remedies for eye and fungal infections.
Though the FDA considers natamycin safe, ingesting it doesn’t come with out possible side effects: nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It may also cause reactions for those with aspirin sensitivities.
And, we still don’t know what the “proprietary, unnamed ingredient” contains.
Inexpensive, convenient foods come at a high cost: to our health and our environment. We don’t want to live in fear of chemicals in our foods, but it’s unrealistic that we’ll make everything we consume in our own kitchen.
When, though, will companies (and the FDA) stop waiting for consumers to call out their irresponsible choices (azodicarbonamide in Subway bread?), and realize ingredients made in a laboratory will never benefit their customers.
fresh food photo credit