The food industry is awash with subtle tricks of the trade designed to fool you and your tastebuds. While you chow down on delicious foods, the reality is that you’re often eating nothing more than just a handful of processed ingredients, food colourings, and some chemicals that virtually no one can pronounce.
1. Do your blueberry muffins ACTUALLY count as one of your five-a-day?
If you’re anything like me, you probably pick up blueberry muffins as a ‘healthier’ alternative to chocolate muffins. But, judging by the fact of what’s commonly used instead of blueberries, we might want to rethink this mentality…
Some companies like to replace blueberries with their very own creations: usually a mix of dextrose, flour, cellulose gum and lots of artificial coloured dyes. The packaging will usually say that ‘imitation blueberries’ are being used, but you may need to put your strongest glasses on to catch it in the tiny fine print…
2. This one confirms what you’ve secretly known all along…
There’s something about processed cheese which is so satisfying in a burger. Or just rolled up and eaten on its own. But chances are that slither of plastic-style cheese you like to sink your teeth into isn’t actually cheese at all. Let us explain…
In order to legitimately refer to their product as ‘cheese’, companies must ensure that the ratio of real cheese far exceeds any artificial ingredients. If it doesn’t, they need to refer to themselves as alternatives such as ‘cheese products’ or ‘singles’ to get around any rule breaking.
3. How much have you been paying for your wasabi?
Wasabi is a very acquired taste, but if you think you like the green stuff you might want to check that what you’ve eaten in the past is actually the real thing.
Many takeaway places actually use a substitute wasabi that’s made up of ingredients including, uh, mustard, horseradish and green food colouring. But how do you know whether you’ve tried the real thing? For starters, traditional Japanese wasabi is freshly grated, and slightly pricier than your average takeaway sauce – it comes in at anywhere up to a scorching $100 a pound. It’s also less likely to leave you with that horrendously bitter aftertaste.
4. Salmon is pink? Lies!
Don’t worry, that salmon you had for lunch is more than likely just that – salmon. But it’s the deception behind the colour that’s the real issue here.
We think of salmon as having a pink hue to it, but farmed salmon actually looks grey. Worried that it’ll put consumers off, salmon farmers are invited to choose a shade of pink from a card of 30 options. The chosen colour option is then inserted into the salmon via its own feed, which works to dye the flesh. Sneaky.
5. Crab meat or kamaboko?
For the best crab meat, you’re best off heading to the seaside for legit, freshly caught crab. Not, say, reaching for a cheap sushi pack, which often uses an imitation substance called kamaboko. It might sound exotic, but the reality is a little different: it’s actually just a processed seafood that consists of pulverized paste of white fish flesh. Yum. Once the paste is frozen, it’s shaved into flakes and mixed with egg whites, starch, crabby flavourings and orange food dye. It all just sounds like so much effort – surely it’d just be much easier to use actual crab?!
6. Bacon bits = perfect for vegans
Here’s a turn up for the books. A smattering of porky bits may be the ultimate addition to any meal, but very rarely do they have any trace of bacon. In fact, more often than not they’re actually completely vegan – which probably won’t go down too well with any ardent meat lovers.
Inside of bacon, these bits use a range of ingredients including artifically flavoured textured soy flour, yeast extract and the tasty sounding flavour enhancers, disocium inosinate and disodium guanylate.
7. The cream inside Oreo has been taking us for fools all this time
The whole concept behind an Oreo is that the cream in the middle provides the perfect opportunity to twist the biscuit halves ready for milk dunking. Except that what looks like cream isn’t actually cream, but more a vegan substance called creme, made up of canola oil, sugar and artificial flavours. More great news for vegans, but bad news for cream addicts.
8. Sunny D: Orange juice or syrup?
Sunny Delight might look like orange juice, but it’s probably the furthest thing from it. Well, it’s more like a distant relative who tries, but probably not as much as they should.
In each bottle of Sunny D, you’ll find less than 2% of concentrated orange, apple, tangerine, grapefruit and lime juice. The other 98% is basically high fructose corn syrup. Yep, knew there was probably a reason why our parents were so against us necking the bottles back…