I know there are two sides to every story. In my effort to be fair and balanced, let me try to give you both sides to the point of using caramel in your food. In the old days, we used to be able to make our own caramel with butter, sugar and cream. Now, in the age of artificial food, large companies are interested in manufacturing what poorly resembles food faster and cheaper. Now, I will try to be fair throughout this blog, therefore, let me just say that there are some scientists and obviously some FDA employees who believe that we cannot assume that people could get cancer from artificial caramel color even if lab animals have. On the other hand, “the State of California is so concerned about this that they have listed one of these ingredients on their list of substances known to cause cancer, and they want to limit the amount to no more than 16 micrograms a day. To put that into context for you, 20 ounces of cola can contain 12 times that amount.” (See CBS News article here)
Now, here is where I should apologize because I am sure that I am disappointing a huge number of people today. I firmly in my heart, believe that one day you will thank us. Here’s why: I am certain that many of you see caramel in a food and assume it is caramel like your grandmother used to make. Since I have such a knack for bursting bubbles, let me tell you exactly how caramel is made currently.
“The artificial brown coloring, according to the Center for Science in Public Interest (CSPI), is made by reacting sugars with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperatures, and those reactions ‘result in the formation of 2-methylimidazole and 4 methylimidazole, which in government-conducted studies caused lung, liver, or thyroid cancer or leukemia in laboratory mice or rats’.” (See CBS News article here)
I hate to point this out (but not really) – how many times have you heard of people dying from lung cancer and they never smoked a day in their life? I’m just sayin’.
Let me give you a list of foods that may contain caramel coloring: batters, beer, brown bread, buns, chocolate, cookies, cough drops, dark liquor such as brandy, rum, and whisky, chocolate-flavored flour-based confectionery, coatings, custards, decorations, fillings and toppings, potato chips, dessert mixes, doughnuts, fish and shellfish spreads, frozen desserts, fruit preserves, glucose tablets, gravy browning, ice cream, pickles, sauces and dressings, soft drinks (especially colas), sweets, vinegar, and wines.
Again, in an effort to be fair and balanced, I have no idea the amount of caramel color you would have to consume for it to be dangerous. But, I do hope by providing you this information, maybe – just maybe – you and your family will try to limit the amount. Right about now, you might be thinking, my diet is bland and boring. But, consider this: When was the last time you had maple syrup from a farm? Well, if you don’t remember, that’s a shame because it is quite extraordinary.
Oh, and by the way – gravy… Have you compared homemade gravy to packaged gravy? Well, I could go on and on. I’m sure you get the picture. Does this mean a few extra minutes of cooking sometimes? Yes, it does. But, I for one, prefer the inside of a kitchen to the inside of a hospital. I’m sorry – yes – I had to go there.