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Would you prefer real or imitation food ingredients, flavors, and colors?

The January 2014 issue of Consumer Reports has an article, "Food fake-out," that describes food described as one thing but inside the food contains other ingredients. For example, on the label, Consumer Reports describe McCormick Bac'n Pieces. Sure, it sounds like bacon when pronounced bac'n, but there's no bacon bits. Instead, the bits are a blend of soy flour, canola oil, salt, caramel color, maltodextrin, natural and artificial flavors. Commercial foods have buzz words.

You can't call a chip a chip unless it's made from a fresh potato not a dehydrated potato. So you call it a crisp. The reason why is that the FDA requires a chip to be made from a potato, thinly sliced and fried in deep fat. You can't call the food a chip if it's made from dehydrated potatoes mixed with cornstarch, sugar, and soy lecithin. So you call it a crisp, explains the Consumer Reports article.

Or take Tropical Pizza Topping. Consumer Reports mentions that it looks and shreds like mozzarella cheese, but it's not. Ingredients include partially hydrogenated soybean oil. Do you really want those trans fats? Besides the partially hydrogenated soybean oil, you get 20 other ingredients. Water is listed as the first ingredient, next come the transfats (partially hydrogenated soybean oil) followed by other ingredients including powdered cellulose to prevent caking, casein, which is a milk protein, and the casein is the only dairy product in the topping.

Or how about Kellogg's frosted miniwheats blueberry? Think there are blueberries in there? No blueberries. The image on the box pictures blueberries, though. What you get are red and blue food coloring along with whole-grain wheat, sugar, and corn. You also get a blend of natural and artificial flavors. Is the label too generic for the careful consumer's eyes?

The Consumer Reports article mentions other foods such as Wise Onion Rings, which is on the label. Only the rings are onion-flavored. There's no onions in the rings. The ingredients include corn starch, tapioca starch, and vegetable oil. You get four different food colorings, including a blue food coloring. The seasoning includes onion and garlic powders and paprika, applied to the rings after they're made. But there's no onion...just the taste of onion and garlic powders.

You can check out other foods in the Consumer Reports article such as the International Delight Gourmet Coffee Creamer. No cream here, not even powdered dairy. It's made from water, sugar, and palm oil, notes the Consumer Reports article. Or take tang, the "orange" juice that years ago was said to be consumed by astronauts when they were sent into space. But tang has no orange juice in it.

It's mostly sugar, fructose, and citric acid for the tang, not orange or other citrus fruit juice. And the coloring comes from food dyes Yellow number 5 and Number 6. What else is tang good for? Cleaning toilets, says another article. See, "Tang for your Toilet | Apartment Therapy" and "Tang in the Toilet and 17 Other Ingenious Bathroom Cleaning Tricks." Sure, you can eat Tang because it's mainly sugar, fructose, and citric acid. But it also does a good job of removing those hard water stains.

To keep your toilet clean and your dog happy, put several tablespoons of Tang® Breakfast Drink in the toilet before you leave for work or at bedtime, says the article, "Tang in the Toilet and 17 Other Ingenious Bathroom Cleaning Tricks." Let it soak, use your toilet brush to swish around under the rim, and flush. The great thing about this is you don’t have to worry if the kids get into the toilet bowl cleaner, the article explains.

In the Consumer Reports article, "Food fake-out," other foods such as Mrs. Butterworth's Original and Oreo cookies were reviewed. Turns out Mrs. Butterworth's Original Syrup has no maple syrup and no butter in it. Back in the 1970s, it had 2% butter, according to the Consumer Reports article. Currently, ingredients include high fructose corn syrup, regular corn syrup, water, salt, cellulose gum, and molasses as well as natural and artificial flavoring.

Nabicsco Oreos isn't made from the usual milk, butter, and eggs you find in many home-made cookies. The filling have a dozen various ingredients. The main ingredients listed are sugar, flour, vegetable oils, high fructose corn syrup, and cocoa listed as the last ingredient. On a food label the last ingredient usually means the smallest amount. So take your pick. Make your snack foods yourself from ingredients you choose even if you have to prepare food the night before and refrigerate what you create. The result as most people know is that commercial food focuses on shelf life and affordability. Ask yourself whether you want the calories and the sugars?

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