Last night we went to dinner at Carl’s Jr. I ordered the grilled chicken salad and ice tea (unsweetened). The dressing I chose was the raspberry vinaigrette. I did not eat the croutons. It was good, lowfat, and I thought fairly healthy. That was until I read the label of the dressing.
It had not only 140 calories in the small packet, but was full of additives. One food additive I’ve been noticing a lot lately is propylene glycol. It was in my dressing. The name sounds amazingly similar to ethylene glycol, aka antifreeze.
When I got home, I decided to look into it. What I found was shocking and sickening. There’s a very good reason propylene glycol and ethylene glycol sound so much alike. They are very similar chemically with similar industrial uses. They are both made from petroleum, just like your car’s oil, gasoline, and diesel. Ethylene glycol has the chemical formula C2H6O2. Propylene has the chemical formula C3H8O2.Yet, one is supposedly safe to eat, and the other deadly.
However, upon deeper research, I found lot of warnings against ingesting or direct contact with either of them. PG is used as not only antifreeze, but also airplane deicing solution, making polyester, and as a solvent for the paint and plastic industries. Yummy, huh?
Propylene gylcol is common in household products such as soaps, shampoos, skin creams, cosmetics, fabric softener, and even baby wipes. However, it is known to cause skin irritation. Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) warns to avoid contact because it is a strong skin irritant and can cause liver and kidney problems. (Keep in mind that MSDS for table sugar says it must be used under a fume hood in laboratories though).
Despite this, the FDA has deemed propylene glycol “generally recognized as safe for use in food”. The European Propylen Glycol producers website says that PG has a low degree of toxicity. It is rapidly converted to lactic acid in a similar fashion as sugar is during exercise.
As such, it is a cheap ingredient for managing water content in cosmetics, medicines, and FOOD products like salad dressings, beer, sweets, and baking mixes. It “is the ideal carrier of a large variety of flavours that give most of today’s food and beverage their distinctive taste” (Propylen Glycol). It evenly distributes flavorings and colors in foods such as drinks, candy, and sweets. I checked my pantry and fridge and also found it was in Kraft salad dressings. Granted, it was toward the end of the ingredient list, so there wasn’t much in it, but it was there.
That’s just one of many industrial components that have made their way into our food supply. Is it any wonder that food related health problems are sky rocketing in recent years? We aren’t eating real food anymore.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Propylene Ethanol, http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/substances/toxsubstance.asp?toxid=240#10
Propylen Glycol, http://www.propylene-glycol.com/index.php?page=safety