The food industry has created an era of convenience for consumers through packaged, preserved, emulsified, pasteurized, sterilized, irradiated and chemically altered foods. It’s not an exact science, but generally speaking the faster a food spoils, the higher the nutrient density it contains. Living foods will perish within days to weeks while processed foods can last months or even years due to the removal of all microorganisms, enzymes, oxygen, and moisture in food.
Foods such as packaged chips, crackers, wheat products containing harmful oils, soy, corn, artificial sweeteners, sugars, salts, as most other junk food, maintain the slowest spoil rates while offering little if any nutritional value along with the highest risk in terms of promoting disease. These are the money makers for the food and disease industries.
On the other hand, foods with the highest nutrient density such as sprouts, greens, fruits and vegetables have the highest spoil rate with the lowest risk in terms of promoting disease.
Why is this? The reason is that living foods (designed to be gathered and consumed quickly) are for human beings. Dead, processed foods with a long shelf life are designed for…well something else.
Living foods need to be consumed or they die. They cannot be stored for extended periods because they are alive like you and I. Deprive them of their essentials and they won’t fair well. How well do you think you would do if sunlight, oxygen, and water were instantly removed from your environment? The food industry has made it their business to remove all living components from natural foods, essentially creating foods that no longer have any active microbials, enzymes or even absorable vitamins and minerals. Processed foods are dead and that’s why they have no nutrient density.
The Addiction To Preventing Food Spoilage All In The Name of Food Safety (Code Word For Profit) Food spoilage can be defined as a disagreeable change in a food’s normal state. Normal is the operative word here because the food industry changes everything that’s “normal” about food and makes it abnormal. Air and oxygen, moisture, light, microbial growth, temperature and time all influence the spoil rate of foods and the changes can be detected by smell, taste, touch, or sight.
The primary claim by the food industry: As the world’s population climbs well past 7 billion, the sustainable production and distribution of food is balanced against the need to ensure its chemical and microbiological safety.
“Food scientists are voicing from their petrified little minds that as the system grows, so will the need to pressure regulation and surveillance organizations to track contaminants and prevent deadly outbreaks, such as the 2011 events in the U.S. (Listeria monocytogenes_) and Germany (_Escherichia coli). Both these outbreaks initiated government action to promote the agenda of seizing more control over the food supply through expanded “food safety” regulations.”
Typical Methods Used By The Food Industry To Extend Shelf Life and Remove Nutrition
REMOVAL AIR AND OXYGEN
One important cause of food spoilage is air and oxygen. Air consists of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and a 1% mixture of other gases. While oxygen is essential for life, it can have deteriorative effects on fats, food colors, vitamins, flavors, and other food constituents if not consumed “within a reasonable period”.
Oxidative spoilage is the chief cause of quality loss in fats and fatty portions of foods. When lipids oxidize, short chain carbon compounds are formed; these compounds have very strong odors and flavors and are very undesirable and unacceptable to consumers so the industry removes oxygen in vacuum sealed bags, cans and other packaging to prevent this problem. It also prevents the growth of microorganisms which immediately kills off enzymes. When deprived of oxygen and exposed to heat, the protein structure and shape of active sites within enzymes change and they become denatured.
Certain enzymes that are naturally present in food are known as oxidizing enzymes. These enzymes catalyze (speed up) very natural reactions between oxygen and food components. This means food can spoil faster than grocery stores can keep the items on the shelf. There are also many oxidizing enzymes, two that can cause darkening in diced and sliced vegetables are catalase and peroxidase. The browning of vegetables caused by these enzymes is often accompanied by off-flavors and odors. Heat treatment (blanching) is used to inactivate these enzymes which again destroys the natural balance of active enzymes in these foods.
Without microorganisms, we would all be dead. They are vital to our survival especially for our digestion. However, for food industry scientists, they are evil. Pasteurization destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamin content, denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamins C, B12 and B6, kills beneficial bacteria, promotes pathogens and is associated with allergies, increased tooth decay, colic in infants, growth problems in children, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease and cancer.
Bacteria that have survived pasteurization can actually continue to grow in the milk and produce acid from the lactose that is naturally present in the milk.
All almonds produced in the state of California, destined for the U.S., Canada, and Mexico are required (mandatory) to be pasteurized. Even organic almonds will be required to be pasteurized, even though there has been absolutely no incident of salmonella poisoning among organic almonds.
Most commercial milk is now ultra-pasteurized to get rid of heat-resistant bacteria and give it a longer shelf life. Ultra-pasteurization is a violent process that takes milk from a chilled temperature to above the boiling point in less than two seconds.
REMOVAL OF MOISTURE
Water is one of the most common substances on earth. It is an essential component of all foods. The amount of water in a food (known as percent water) influences the appearance, texture, and flavor of the food. All living organisms as well as food contain water. Water makes up about 70% or more of the weight of most fresh (unprocessed) foods. Even “dry” foods like beans, flour and cereals contain some water. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain the most water — between 90% and 95% water.
Although the water content of a food is expressed as a percent, to scientists this number does not reflect how the water exists in the food. Water in food is classified according to its availability, or biological activity and is either “free” or “bound.” If free water is not bound to any components in a food; it is considered as a potential for microbial growth and is also available for chemical reactions, consequently it is not considered part of the nutritional complement of a specific food, even though it may be.
Moisture can condense on the surface of a product and this can result in many common food defects unfavourable to food aesthetics such as mottling, crystallization and stickiness.
By removing water to a certain level, deteriorative reactions the industry finds unacceptable are avoided. Examples include drying techniques such as powdered milk, potato flakes, drink mixes and evaporated milk. Artificial food additives are also used to prevent food products from binding to water.
Almost every food category can now be legally irradiated by government regulators at the expense of our health. Irradiated foods are exposed to high level radiation for the purpose of sterilizing it. There is an abundance of convincing evidence in the refereed scientific literature that the condensation products of the free radicals formed during irradiation produce statistically significant increases in carcinogenesis, mutagenesis and cardiovascular disease in animals and man. This is in addition to the destruction of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
Canned foods undergo a irradiation or sterilization process to make them shelf-stable. If canned foods are not sterilized properly they can still spoil.
Take a look at the following list of now acceptable irradiated foods provided for the American Council on Science and Health.
Most foods available at major grocery chains can be potentially irradiated since the list is inclusive of all food categories.
The free radicals caused by irradiation kill some bacteria, but they also bounce around in the food, damage vitamins and enzymes, and combine with existing chemicals (like pesticides) in the food to form new chemicals, called unique radiolytic products (URPs).
Some of these URPs are known toxins (benzene, formaldehyde, lipid peroxides) and some are unique to irradiated foods. Scientists have not studied the long-term effect of these new chemicals in our diet. Therefore, we cannot assume they are safe.
Irradiated foods can lose 5%-80% of many vitamins (A, C, E, K and B complex). The amount of loss depends on the dose of irradiation and the length of storage time.
It is a fact that science has not proved that a long-term diet of irradiated foods is safe for human health. Yet we think that nature that has provided food for millions of years to earth’s inhabitants now suddenly produces foods that are unsafe for our consumption.
Homogenization is a more recently invented process and it has been called “the worst thing that dairymen did to milk.” When milk is homogenized, it is pushed through a fine filter at pressures of 4,000 pounds per square inch. In this process, the fat globules are made smaller by a factor of ten times or more. These fat molecules then become evenly dispersed throughout the milk.
This gives milk, peanut butter and other foods a creamy consistency. Fat subjected to high heat and pressure oxidizes–it becomes rancid.
Milk is a hormonal delivery system. When homogenized, milk becomes very powerful and efficient at bypassing normal digestive processes and delivering steroid and protein hormones to the human body (both your hormones and the cow’s natural hormones and the ones they may have been injected with to produce more milk).
Homogenization makes fat molecules in milk smaller and they become “capsules” for substances that are able to bypass digestion. Proteins that would normally be digested in the stomach are not broken down and instead they are absorbed into the bloodstream.
The homogenization process breaks up an enzyme in milk which in its smaller state can then enter the bloodstream and react against arterial walls. This causes the body to protect the area with a layer of cholesterol. If this only happened once in a while it wouldn’t be of big concern, but if it happens regularly there are long term risks.
Proteins were created to be easily broken down by digestive processes. Homogenization disrupts this and insures their survival so that they enter the bloodstream. Many times the body reacts to foreign proteins by producing histamines, and then mucus. Sometimes homogenized milk proteins resemble a human protein and can become triggers for autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cancer and heart disease.
ARTIFICIALLY PRESERVED FOODS
We artificially preserve thousands of foods to extend their shelf life. As one of the most prolific preservatives in the food industry, it is difficult to find many foods without potassium sorbate. 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?
Sodium Benzoate can convert into lethal carcinogenic poison when combined with absorbic acid. Professor Peter Piper, a professor of molecular biology and biotechnology, tested the impact of sodium benzoate on living yeast cells in his laboratory. What he found alarmed him: the benzoate was damaging an important area of DNA in the “power station” of cells known as the mitochondria. “These chemicals have the ability to cause severe damage to DNA in the mitochondria to the point that they totally inactivate it: they knock it out altogether.” he stated.
“The food industry will say these compounds have been tested and they are complete safe,” he said. “By the criteria of modern safety testing, the safety tests were inadequate. Like all things, safety testing moves forward and you can conduct a much more rigorous safety test than you could 50 years ago.”
Sodium Benzoate, as most other preservatives, should not be ingested in any quantity. This toxin is banned from all foods and drinks for children under three, and is currently being phased out of all Coca-Cola products.
The food industry’s nature to preserve is directly correlated to extending shelf life to increase profits and reducing waste. If we were to live in sustainable societies where we would consume only what was necessary and balance our sustenance with ecological systems and principles, preservatives would be completely unnecessary and redundant. If anything, food preservatives will soon be in harmony with natural living and free of chemicals. This is where our food industry is headed and toxic preservatives will soon be a thing of the past.
Almost all foods are exposed to light from natural and/or artificial sources. The exposure of foods to light can result in the photodegradation (or spoilage) of these products. This photodegradation usually occurs in food constituents, such as pigments, fats, proteins, and vitamins and results in discoloration, off-flavor development, and vitamin losses.
The light that is absorbed by the food can cause deteriorative reactions of the food constituents. In most solid foods, the light penetrates the outer layer of the product and then photodegradation occurs. Discoloration on the surface of foods can certainly affect consumer acceptance of these products.
In liquid foods, light penetration can be greater and with mixing of the products due to agitation, larger portions of food constituents may be deteriorated. The light sensitivity of a food depends on many factors including the: light source strength and type of light that it emits; distance of the light source form the food; length of exposure optical properties of the packaging materials; oxygen concentration of the food; and the temperature.
For every 18F degree rise in temperature within the moderate temperature range where most food is handled (50F to 100F), the rate of chemical reaction is approximately doubled. As a result, excessive heat will increase the rate of natural food enzyme reactions and the reactions of other food constituents. As a result, protein will breakdown or denature; emulsions will break; some vitamins will be destroyed; moisture will be lost and foods will dry out; and the color, flavor and odor of some products may be affected.
Keeping meat at healthy temperatures is very challenging for grocery retailers. The actual surface temperature of displayed fresh meat is often much higher than the thermometer of the display case due to UV radiation from the display case lighting which penetrates the meat packaging and heats the surface just as the sun can cause a sunburn on a cold winter day. Various studies have found that the internal temperature of meat from display cases does exceed 50 degrees Celsius which is more than 10 degrees higher than recommended temperatures.
The meat consequently decomposes very quickly, so the meat industry heavily invested in modified atmospheric packaging which utilizes carbon monoxide gas to extend the shelf life and resist spoilage. This is how decayed meat is made to look fresh at grocery retailers.
Still trust the food industry?
Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.