There is more good news on the fast-food front. Chick-fil-A says it's removing high-fructose corn syrup from its white buns, artificial dyes from its sauces and dressings, and yellow dye from its chicken soup as part of a push to improve its ingredients. Except for the chicken soup, the reformulations are simply a test, which will be in around 200 of their Georgia locations starting now through early next year. They are also testing a new peanut oil that doesn’t contain the chemical preservative TBHQ like their present one does.
I am trying to remain positive as I write this blog. Trust me, I am all about small changes and am so glad that the team at Chick-fil-A has decided to make some of their products healthier, just like many of the other quick-serve restaurants. Better late than never. Still, I can’t help but wonder why so many questionable ingredients have been used in fast-food products for so long, and how many are still persistent on chain menus. For example, here are a few questionable ingredients still present in some of Chick-fil-A's and other fast-food products:
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): This compound is used as a flavor enhancer, and it's classified as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by the FDA, but it remains a controversial food additive, has been known to cause headaches, migraines, and a variety of other negative symptoms in many individuals.
TBHQ: This refers to Tertiary Butyl Hydroquinone, an antioxidant synthetic compound and form of butane, developed for stabilizing different vegetable oils, foods, and fats, and prolonging shelf life of a product. Even though the FDA has recognized it as safe, a number of studies have shown that prolonged exposure to high doses of TBHQ may be carcinogenic.
Dimethylpolysiloxane: This is a silicone compound that is added to food as an anti-foaming agent. Fast-food chains use it to prevent foaming in the oil when food is fried. It is also present in shampoo, lubricating oils and heat resistant tiles.
Mono- and diglycerides: These food additives are used to help combine ingredients that don’t blend well together, i.e. water and oil. Mono- and diglycerides may contain trans-fatty acids, however they do not fall under the FDA’s current labeling requirements and I am unsure how they will be affected in the proposed ban.
Calcium propionate: This is a preservative added to bread and baked goods to prevent bacterial and mold growth. It also occurs naturally in some type of cheeses. Extensive research has been done and has confirmed there are no negative symptoms from consumption. However migraine sufferers may want to stay clear, since anecdotally it has been seen as a trigger.
Bottom line: I'm still thrilled with Chick-fil-A’s movement in the right direction, but if you're looking for a wholesome good-for-you meal, you're still better off cooking at home or packing your lunch.