'Spirit of India'
the-south-asian.com April 2001
Fast Food Facts – the ‘E-Cuisine’
by Roopa Bakshi
compiled for the readers by the-south-asian
Fast food is beginning to get tastier and crisper. Children are practically weaned on MacDonalds, Wimpys, Wendys, KFCs and many more of the same ilk. Fast food outlets and chains are increasing rapidly and so is the incidence of disorders such as Attention Deficit Disorder [ADD] and Hyperactivity among children.
The fast food industry in the U.S. is a 100 billion dollar (or more) industry. In other words, the discerning epicures who cultivate the fast food culture pay out $100 billion for ‘food’ laced and garnished with preservatives, flavourings, sweeteners and colours of all hues. It is a100 billion dollar food additive industry. The food on the plastic plate does not come with labels listing all the ingredients that have been added to it – the tempting French fries carry no tales of the medium they have been fried in or the flavours and enhancers that have been added to them. The banana-flavoured milk shake is a cocktail of milk and amylacelate – a chemical compound with a dominant note of banana flavour.
Thirteenth April was Good Friday and the first of a four-day weekend here in the UK. I had with me two books – ‘Fast Food Nation: What the All-American Meal is Doing to the World’ by Eric Schlosser, and ‘E for Additives’ by Maurice Hanssen. I read them, one after the other, into the early hours of Saturday morning. Some books induce reflection, others introspection – but that Saturday morning I came close to a nervous seizure. I must have still been in aftershock when I cleared the refrigerator of all the food – because I have no memory of doing so.
Mad cow disease and the foot-and-mouth outbreak seemed innocent Enid Blyton mysteries compared to the ‘E Thriller’ I had just read. Even the dreaded E.Coli wanes before the 1500 Es that have made a silent and a deadly entry into our food products and our food chain – the last link of the food chain now being in the hands of lab-coat wearing food technologists with their supply of magic potions of E series. My thoughts and my heart go out, especially to my vegetarian friends, who have never doubted the ‘Natural Flavours’ in a packet of dehydrated tomato soup, and who have been gullible enough to believe that wines and the Sunday brunch Bloody Marys are vegetarian drinks. Just make sure the Worcestershire Sauce you use for your Bloody Mary has no anchovies!
One can now appreciate the ‘Vegetarian Wine’ label.
The story gets more horrific as the curtain on the food labs rises. It reads like a macabre plot with a cast of villains – colours, flavours, preservatives, sweeteners, antioxidants of the wrong kind, and of course the pesticides. Food colours, especially synthetic ‘coal tar’ dyes and azo dyes are known to cause reactions in asthmatics and people suffering from different allergies. Meanwhile, the victims remain the children. No specific causes have been identified as yet for Attention Deficit Disorder [ADD] and Hyperactivity – yet studies and trials conducted on children, show remarkable improvements in their achievement scores, once food additives and refined sugar were eliminated from their diets. Kids are killing each other in schools – children as young as nine or ten have pulled a trigger or two on their peers. Gun laws and food laws, both need to be looked at. The effect of these chemicals on behaviour can be quite dramatic. In 1976 "the schools in New York City made a basic change in the school lunches that excluded foods with a high sugar content, as well as eliminating foods with two synthetic colouring chemicals. Within one year, the scores on standardised California achievement tests went up 8%. The school system then banned all synthetic food colourings and flavourings. The scores went up another 4%. Three years later in 1983, all foods containing BHT and BHA – chemical antioxidants - were removed from school lunches. The scores increased an additional 4%. This means that additives in school lunches are decreasing the mental capacity of children by at least 16%. "
Another study reported that two chemicals, Yellow No.5, chemically known as tartrazine, and the preservative benzoic acid, commonly found in processed foods, produced dramatic reactions in 79% of children studied.
There are over 1000 chemical food additives – many have been banned in several countries.
Hyperactive Children's Support Group (HACSG) has recommended the elimination of many chemical additives from the diets of children. [A list appears on a separate page of the article.]
The bottom line is -There are no 100% safe chemicals or sweeteners.
The moral of the story is – Go Organic.
Information for this article
was derived from the following sources:
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