by NATASHA LONGO
The chimes of a friendly neighborhood ice cream truck on a warm summer’s day guarantee flocks of children will soon be gathering within its vicinity. No child wants to be excluded from the delicious frozen treats their friends are receiving do they? However, when you become informed of what is actually in those soft serve delicacies–preventing and restricting their consumption should be the priority of any parent concerned with the health of their child.
All owners of ice cream trucks and portable shops are outfitted with similar kitchens, refrigeration, power inverters and music. They’re proud of their operation and consider safety a priority, especially with the thousands of children approaching their vehicles every month. Unfortunately, most of these owners are unaware of the harmful formulas that make up their soft serve. They may know the basics–milk, whey, sugar, cream, vanilla or chocolate, but are completely unaware of the more discreet ingredients critical to each formula.
All soft serve ice-cream makers must use emulsifiers to replace surface proteins and aid in forming the frozen smooth state of ice cream. Most are quite toxic substances such as polysorbates, carrageenan, guar gum, mono- and diglycerides and others. They also contain artificial sweeteners and chemical preservatives making these frozen treats a chemical concoction of poisons for children and their growing bodies.
Besides the usual milk, sugar, whey, and cream which have their own problems (since they’re manufactured from conventional sources), here’s a list of additional ingredients in more than 95% of all soft serve formulas which include a minimum of 3-5 stabilizers and emulsifiers and artificial flavors.
A common lab and industrial chemical, calcium sulfate is used as a desiccant and a coagulant (in other words, to dry and to clot). In its unrefined state, it’s a translucent white rock sourced from gypsum and anhydrite. Partially dehydrated gypsum is also known as plaster, which is just great for repairing drywall or making casts but has no place in food. The commercial sources of calcium sulfate in soft server ice cream are either animal-derived (from cow or pig) or synthetically manufactured.
Polysorbate 80 has been found to negatively affect the immune system and cause severe anaphylactic shock which can kill. According to Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Volume 95, Number 6, December 2005 , pp. 593-599(7), “it is of current relevance as a ‘hidden’ inductor of anaphylactoid reactions”, and “Polysorbate 80 was identified as the causative agent for the anaphylactoid reaction of nonimmunologic origin in the patient. The study included a pregnant woman who suffered anaphylactic shock after being given a IV drip of multi-vitamins containing polysorbate 80.
In addition to this, there have been studies in Food and Chemical Toxicology which showed that Polysorbate 80 causes infertility. Baby female rats were injected with polysorbate 80 at days 4-7 after birth. It accelerated the maturing of the rats and caused changes to the vagina and womb lining, hormonal changes, ovary deformities and degenerative follicles.
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, which is part of the United Nations, scientists from the organization are developing vaccines specifically to damage fertility as a method of contraception. A suggested ingredient for the vaccine is Polysorbate 80 (also known as tween 80). As it is a preferred ingredient, scientists are obviously aware of its ability to cause infertility.
An inorganic compound, magnesium hydroxide is a common component of antacids and laxatives that interferes with the absorption of folic acid and iron. In addition, it can be used as a deodorant, a whitener in bleaching solutions and it even has smoke-suppressing and fire-retarding properties!
Xanthan gum is produced by fermentation of glucose or sucrose by the Xanthomonas campestris bacterium. One of its most remarkable properties of is its capability of producing a large increase in the viscosity of any liquid by adding a very small quantity of gum, usually less than one percent. For this reason, it is used as an emulsifier in a very large percentage of ice creams around the world.
As a polysaccharide, one of the problems with this food additive is that it is typically made from corn. People who have corn allergies may not be aware that these additives can cause diverse reactions when consumed. Moreover, a very large percentage of corn around the world is now genetically modified (GM) which is then reflected in the production of many types of xanthan gum. GM foods are a cause for great concern.
Some people develop an allergy to conventional xanthan gum, with various gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Even consumption of a very minor amount can lead to days and days of recovery and many trips to the bathroom. For others a xanthan reaction can also precipitate migraine headaches and skin itchiness.
Plant sourced organic xanthan gum is non GM and non corn-derived without any chemical reproduction in a laboratory. Some people who develop reactions to synthetic xanthan sources and then consume organic sources experience no symptoms at all.
Corn Syrup Solids
Corn syrup, corn syrup solids, and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are all made from corn, and bottom line, all are sugar and geneticall modified.
Results presented at the 2013 Canadian Neuroscience Meeting shows that high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) can cause behavioural reactions similar to those produced by drugs of abuse such as cocaine. HFCS causes insulin resistance, diabetes, hypertension, increased weight gain, and not to mention is manufactured from genetically modified corn. The CRA felt that changing the name would somehow create “clarity” for consumers.
Each of these ingredients will give your child cravings for more sugar. These ingredients actually interfere with hormones that tell a child’s brain that they’re full! Therefore, it’s very common to overeat on foods that contain HFCS (or even the latter two).
In the U.S., HFCS is labeled, however in Canada and Europe it may be masked under glucose-fructose.
The food industry and its scientists will parrot endless myths that potassium sorbate is not a health threat because of its safety record and non-toxic profile. As always depending where your source your information, facts that contradict safety records are easy to find.
Food and chemical toxicology reports have labeled potassium sorbate as a carcinogen, showing positive mutation results in the cells of mammals. Other studies have shown broad systemic and toxic effects on non-reproductive organs in animals. No long term studies have ever been initiated on either animals or humans, so there is simply not enough evidence to theorize what could happen after years of ingesting this preservative. However, based on short-term carcinogenic and toxic effects, is it worth the risk to find out?
Mono- and Diglycerides
Mono-diglycerides remain the most widely used emulsifiers in food production. They are called mono-digylcerides because they are made from oils that have a high mono saturated fat content, but they are still hydrogenated. They are hidden trans fats where an alcohol (in this case glycerol) has been combined to form an emulsifying agent.
One of the largest food oil producing companies worldwide is Gillco. With the exception of their distilled non-hydrogenated monoglycerides (not incorporated in ice cream applications), a large variety of their emulsifiers are hydrogenated and this is stipulated on the company’s fact sheet for each product.
Mono-diglycerides are not nutritious in anyway. Their only purpose is to improve volume, uniform structure and develop the right meltdown characteristics. Regardless of their quantity, the inclusion of hydrogenated oils in any food product is only detrimental to our health and their adverse effects are well documented. Avoid any ice creams (or any food products for that matter) with mono-diglycerides.
Also called guaran, this is the ground endosperm of guar beans. Typically produced in powder form, manufacturers like it because it’s so cheap–it has almost eight-times the water-thickening potency of cornstarch so only a small amount is needed to create sufficient viscosity. It is used as an emulsifier, as it prevents oil droplets from coalescing, or as a stabilizer because it stops solids from settling.
The use of conventional guar gum as an ingredient in non-prescription diet aids was officially banned in the early 1990s in Canada and the U.S. The guar gum would bind with liquids in the stomach and swell, causing a feeling of satisfying fullness. However, this mass of swollen guar gum would also cause dangerous intestinal and duodenal blockages, as well as abdominal cramps, nausea, flatulence and diarrhea. Guar gum was declared unsafe and ineffective for use as a non- prescription diet aid, but then allowed in small doses in the food supply.
Conventional and synthetic guar gum used extensively in soft serve has been linked through studies to a high molecular weight agent that can cause occupational rhinitis and asthma. Its ingestion may also cause a significant reduction in the absorption and bioavailability of calcium, iron, and zinc.
Listed under names like “sodium phosphate,” “calcium phosphate” and “phosphoric acid,” there are dozens of different phosphate-containing food additives used in hundreds of processed foods and one of them is soft serve ice cream. Studies show that even among healthy adults, people with higher phosphate levels have higher mortality rates. Sodium phosphates cause a more rapid progression of the specific ailments such as chronic kidney disease. Phosphate additives have also been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and they’re linked to accelerated aging and interfering with the way your body activates vitamin D.
Soy Lecithin or Soya Lecithin
Soybean lecithin comes from sludge left after crude soy oil goes through a “degumming” process. It is a waste product containing solvents and pesticides and has a consistency ranging from a gummy fluid to a plastic solid. Before being bleached to a more appealing light yellow, the color of lecithin ranges from a dirty tan to reddish brown. The hexane extraction process commonly used in soybean oil manufacture today yields less lecithin than the older ethanol-benzol process, but produces a more marketable lecithin with better color, reduced odor and less bitter flavor.
A very large percentage of soy lecithin is produced from soy which is GM and unfermented. Fermented soy is the only soy fit for human consumption. Unfermented soy has been linked to digestive distress, immune system breakdown, PMS, endometriosis, reproductive problems for men and women, allergies, ADD and ADHD, higher risk of heart disease and cancer, malnutrition, and loss of libido.
Carrageenan is another emulsifier and stabilizer. It comes from algae or seaweed extract common in the Atlantic Ocean. It is typically extracted from natural sources using powerful alkaline solvents. Carrageenan is often touted as 100% vegetarian and natural. So does that mean it’s safe? Just because something comes from a natural source does not mean that it is safe. There are also natural sources of MSG and Aspartame which are chemically identical to the artificial brands. These are equally poisonous to humans as those marketed in the food industry.
Several studies on humans have demonstrated that digestive enzymes and bacterial action convert high weight carrageenans to dangerous low molecular weight carrageenans and poligeenans in the human gut. These carrageenans, even at low doses, have been found to destroy human cells and are linked to various human cancers and digestive disorders.
Carrageenan has also been found to impair and depress cell-mediated immunity and cause the proliferation of tumour growth. The mechanism responsible for carrageenan-induced immune suppression is believed to be its selective degenerative effect on white blood cells.
Artificial Flavors, Dippings, Toppings
If you opted for, say, a soft-serve ice cream with strawberry syrup or chocolate syrup (or dipped in for hardshell), you’d have to contend with these ingredients: High fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, sugar, E330 citric acid, E405 propylene glycol alginate, E412 guar gum, E413 tragacanth, E414 acacia, modified corn starch, E296 malic acid, E211 sodium benzoate & E202 potassium sorbate, artificial flavours, E129 FD&C Red No. 40, E133 FD&C Blue No. 1.
Some of the largest ice cream chains in the world such as Baskin-Robbins, Ben & Jerry’s, Dairy Queen and Haagen-Dazs all use the above toxic ingredients in their flavours. All local ice cream parlors also include them in their formulations. There are literally hundreds of other conventional ice cream manufacturers and brands around the world. With the exception of companies that emphasize organic all-natural products (i.e. Mapleton’s), we have yet to find one ice cream producer that does not use any of the above ingredients in their manufacturing process.
Make Your Own Ice Cream
These days, there is only one way to eat healthy ice cream….make it yourself. Here’s how:
Borrowed from “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon:
* 3 egg yolks
* 1/2 cup maple syrup
* 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
* 1 tablespoon arrowroot
* 3 cups heavy cream, preferably raw, not ultrapasteurized
Beat egg yolks and blend in remaining ingredients. Pour into an ice cream maker and process according to instructions. (Remember to choose the highest quality ingredients you can find like raw cream, eggs from pastured chickens, or at least organic eggs, and organic (grade B, if you can find it) maple syrup. Pure vanilla extract and arrowroot powder or flour can be found in most health food stores.)
Natasha Longo has a master’s degree in nutrition and is a certified fitness and nutritional counselor. She has consulted on public health policy and procurement in Canada, Australia, Spain, Ireland, England and Germany.