Monday, December 12, 2011

Why is there Antifreeze in Our Food?

I was shopping this weekend for baking supplies, and ingredients that contained no added sugar. My dad is diabetic, and I like to keep him and my mom stocked with baked goods that they both can enjoy. So far, I've done pretty well with sugar-free cookies, cakes, and pie, but have trouble with things like frosting and fudge - both of which require the bulk of sugar as well as the sweetness. So I had my eye out for things that would provide a way to whip up a minimal-sugar frosting, and thought I'd pick up some Agave nectar and see how that would work.

Then I saw a couple of boxes of a sugar-free frosting mix which contained Sweet-n-Low, which I thought was saccharine. Not ideal (aspartame was the deal breaker) but I checked the price as I glanced at the ingredients. 49 cents! Wow. That should have been my tip-off right there. Bought two and called it a day.

Later at home, I made my cake, no problem. Then I grabbed one of the frosting boxes, and read all the ingredients. Among other things, like the fact it did contain aspartame, it also listed something called propylene glycol. That rang a bell and I thought, that sounds familiar - seems like I know what that is. So I went to the internet and did a little research. Turns out, propylene glycol is what's in anti-freeze! And brake fluid, aircraft de-icer, about a gazillion other products, including hand sanitizer, hydraulic fluid, solvents for chemical photo developing, and so on.

I was astounded. Why is this in a FOOD product?! I did a little more checking and learned that the FDA allows the food industry to use a certain amount in food; apparently because it's cheap and expedient. They regard it as having "low oral toxicity" - in humans, I guess they mean, because it's certainly deadly in animals and it doesn't take all that much.

It's also used in all kinds of skin and hair products, as well. Which isn't an oral application and it would be absorbed through the skin and scalp. What about this toxicity? One article I was reading said that: "In fact, PG penetrates the skin so quickly that the EPA warns factory workers to avoid skin contact, to prevent brain, liver, and kidney abnormalities."

The website The Good Human says that, "According to the Environmental Working Group, propylene glycol can cause a whole host of problems. It is rated a 4 by them, which is categorized as a “moderate” health issue. It has been shown to be linked to cancer, developmental/reproductive issues, allergies/immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity and endocrine disruption. It has been found to provoke skin irritation and sensitization in humans as low as 2% concentration, while the industry review panel recommends cosmetics can contain up to 50% of the substance."

I promised myself that from now on, I will take the time I usually do to always read the ingredients, in food and toiletries both. No propylene glycol for me or mine, and I'm learning about other additives, too. Later, at another grocery store, I checked a variety of products, and some had propylene glycol in the ingredients. Including TGI Friday's Spinach and Artichoke dip.

It's astounding to realize what kind of toxins are allowed in products we consume. Yet the government is on the war path against medical marijuana and herbal supplements. Most of us realize that government priorities have nothing to do with reason, facts, and common sense, but this is an absolutely idiotic flip-flop of regulatory priorities.


Blogger Jon said...

Silly Girl!
Mary-ju-whana can be too cheap to grow and distribute so the Big Pharma Companies can't make any money off a pin reliever!

An effective, cheap pain reliever would cut deeply into their obscene profits hence the fight against it becoming legal.

Now if'n it was hard to come by or they could patent it, it would be legal before Barry could get the PG out of his rapidly graying hair!

Just imagine the outcry by old white men (yours truly, excluded!) if there was a real cheap substitute for Viagra. Hell, the Pharma Companies would spend millions tring to outlaw it. Why, half of Congress would have a semi-softee right away!


8:30 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

Not pin reliever:
Pain reliever! Pain reliever! Damn it, dodo! Learn to type!


8:32 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

Oh shit! Trying, not tring!

Why is everything turning blue?


I'm gonna get drunk!

8:33 PM  
Blogger D. said...

I've linked to this.

I've probably seen propylene glycol all over the place, but as with laureth and lauryl compounds, it's under my radar.

10:02 PM  
Blogger Peter of Lone Tree said...

Propylene glycol is also found in toothpaste.

6:09 PM  
Blogger Anna Van Z said...

I noticed that this week! Back to the Tom's of Maine. Or baking soda.

6:52 PM  
Blogger The Kind Vampire said...

Wow! Thanks for the info about propylene glycol. Living alone, I cook - it's an extension of creativity as in the music I write and perform. I checked the net and found some natural frosting recipes on and If you are concerned about the sugar, simply use less of it. I am now going through my cabinets and anything with with p.g. is going into the trash - I'd really like to cook something 'yummy' with p.g. and give it as a gift to the Bank of America.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

It's everywhere!

Please pay attention to the heading Animals, particularly its affect on felines.

2:50 PM  
Blogger Hendersn said...

Just want to let you know that your article is totally wrong ;)

Propylene Glycol is the ingredient they have added to Antifreeze to make it animal safe. Ethylene Glycol is the dangerous, and active ingredient in Antifreeze.

Propylene Glycol is perfectly safe. Everything is toxic in large enough doses. Even water.

Biochemistry lesson time:

When we eat propylene glycol, our cells oxidize it, turning it into Pyruvate. Sound familiar? It will if you've ever taken a biology class.

Pyruvate is the product that our bodies make when they split Glucose (sugar...I hope yo know that) in half. Glucose is the sugar or bodies use for energy. Pyruvate is simply one of the intermediates on the way to converting Glucose into the energy that our bodies use for...everything.

In other words, Propylene glycol gets immediately converted to sugar when we eat it. Not so dangerous, is it?

3:21 PM  
Blogger Anna Van Z said...

That's not what I've been reading - there's a number of scientists who don't agree with you. It was approved for use in the 1930's before anyone examined the effects on humans.

If you think it's harmless, go for it, ingest all you want. As for me, I'm skipping it. I'm sick of endless numbers of industrial-type chemicals being added to our consumables.

Vampy, thanks for the sites you suggested!!

4:14 PM  
Blogger Anna Van Z said...

P.S. I've had quite a few science classes, thank you very much. One of my undergrad degrees is a science degree. And I think some of your statements are absurd.

4:38 PM  

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