Disclaimer: Crossing the Line? poses questions for readers to consider. Authors are not licensed professionals. Consider the issues, and draw your own conclusions.
This first article focuses on what food manufacturers might add to their products before they are crossing the line. Where do we say, as customers, this far and no farther?
Let’s look at store-bought bread. White bread is vilified as unhealthy these days. So are wheat breads that aren’t whole grain. Parents want healthy products to avoid family health problems, but it is tough to know what is really healthy, or what is truly unhealthy.
Food science and studies have found fault with white flour — raising blood sugar, causing health problems. There are pros and cons all over the internet about white flour, wheat flour and whole grains.
So, while customers are distracted, an ingredient is being added to some breads that is not a flour; not even food. That ingredient is a form of wood pulp added as an inexpensive fiber. Wood pulps appear as powdered cellulose or cellulose gum on the label of breads sold in the US — because who would buy bread if the label said wood pulp?
It may be that cost-savings make bread more accessible to more people. Could it be a way of making food affordable? Cellulose providers tout their products as improving food texture or necessary fiber. Is that why they choose to add cellulose to their products? Or is it just a way to save money for those who manufacture the bread? If that last is the case, at what point does making corporate profits cross the line?
I wouldn’t feed handfuls of wood pulp to my kids, or use it in my kitchen. If I tried, I’m guessing authorities would show up at my door. Yet food manufacturers are given latitude to add ingredients like this.
When do we say enough is enough? Even if we can’t afford to buy the super-expensive, healthy, or made-from-scratch bread, where can we draw the line?
We have competition in the US, and this requires companies to be able to make products in a cost-effective way. But, when does cost-effectiveness go too far? Was it when they started using white flour? Or wheat flour instead of whole grains? Or adding cellulose?
Do we really accept the use of cheap additives as a cost-saving measure in the same way that we understand white flour instead of whole grains? When is it inappropriate? Where is the line?
We don’t get to draw the line for the manufacturers; production is regulated by corporations and government. We do get to draw the line with our shopping carts, and our money.
So, now it’s up to you to decide what works for you. Every time you go to the store, you get to vote with your money. Read up on those food labels. If you don’t want to eat cellulose, then buy products without it. You set the line that should not be crossed for your household.
Ed. Note: Forms of cellulose are added to many foods; not just bread, but also sauces, meats, cheeses, and more.