Wendyl Wants To Know

Each week, Wendyl Nissen takes a packaged food item and decodes what the label tells you about its contents.

Wendyl Wants to Know: Colouring a deal breaker for favourite icecream

Tip Top boysenberry ripple ice cream. Photo / Supplied
Tip Top boysenberry ripple ice cream. Photo / Supplied

Tip Top boysenberry ripple icecream
$5.99 for 2L

According to the New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers Association we are "either 2nd or 3rd (with Australia) behind the USA" when it comes to the highest per capita consumers of icecream.

I'm not sure why the NZICMA couldn't decide whether we were before or after Australia, but never mind - we obviously eat a lot of icecream.

This flavour recently won the best in category for "Standard Ice Cream with Inclusions" for the second year running at the New Zealand Ice Cream Awards. Sales figures show that New Zealanders enjoyed 1,216,000 litres of Tip Top's Boysenberry Ripple flavour in 2009.

Most families have the quintessential two litre tub of icecream in their freezer and it must have at least 10 per cent fat to comply with the New Zealand Food Standards Code. Most of us know that icecream is mainly milk, cream and sugar, which seems harmless enough. This is my favourite brand of icecream so I'm very keen to see if I can eat it without any worries that there are nasty additives in there.

Icecream
Cream
This is cream as you would buy to whip and serve with desserts.

Milk
Probably full fat.

Liquid sugar
This is sugar mixed with water.

Water
Glucose syrup (from maize)
Fruit sugar, which is very sweet and made out of maize or corn.

Milk solids non fat
The solids found in milk once the water content has been removed.

Fat emulsifiers (477, 471)
The first ingredient is propylene glycol mono and di-esters (477) which are made from propylene glycol. It has been classified as "generally recognised as safe" by the US Food and Drug Administration but in large doses (which aren't in this product) it can cause problems. It is toxic to cats, so don't let your cat eat it. The second ingredient is mono and di glycerides of fatty acids (471) which is a common and safe emulsifier. Both ingredients are in the icecream to keep fat and water mixed together.

Vegetable gums (412,410,407,401)

The first two ingredients are guar gum (412) and locust bean gum (410). Both are naturally derived and used here to stabilise the icecream. The next ingredient is carrageenan (407)

which is a gel extracted from seaweed but there are concerns that it is an intestinal irritant and the joint Food and Agriculture Organisation and World Health Organisation expert committee on food additives advises it be kept out of infant formulas.

The final ingredient is sodium alginate (401) which is a salt which is extracted from brown algae.

Flavour
This will be an artificial flavour most likely to make the icecream taste like vanilla. It would be nice to see a natural flavour in here.

Boysenberry ripple (20 per cent):
Sugar
Water
Boysenberries (26 per cent)
The label says these boysenberries come from Nelson. It is great to know that local ingredients are being used. At 26 per cent of 20 per cent of this icecream (the amount of boysenberry ripple) this means that that per average 52g serving of this icecream you are getting about 2.7g of boysenberries.

Vegetable gum (410)
This is locust bean gum.

Food acid (citric acid)
This is often used a preservative but also to impart a sour flavour in foods.

Flavour
This will be artificial flavour as no natural or nature-identical flavourings are listed.

Colours (122,133)
Carmoisine (122) also known as azurobine is not a good colouring. It is a synthetic coal tar dye which has been banned in Canada, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United States. It can cause allergic reactions.

Brilliant blue (133) is another synthetic coal tar dye which was banned in Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria and Norway because of concerns it is a carcinogen but that ban has since been lifted. It is now banned in Argentina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Italy, Mauritius, Morocco, Poland, Portugal, Trinidad and Turkey.

My recommendations:
It was all going so well until I got to the end of my analysis and I let out a sad moan of disappointment. Two little three letter codes ended it all for me. This is my favourite icecream but I cannot justify eating carmoisine, which is banned even in the US which is notoriously forgiving of additives in food. And I'm not too happy about Brilliant blue which continues to attract controversy and is banned in many countries. So it's off the menu.

I'll just have to opt for an icecream with no colours added and stir in some home-made strawberry jam.

Highlights

* One colour is banned in five countries including the US.

* Another colour is now banned in 12 countries.

* Made locally, using local ingredients.

Do you have a food product you would like featured in Wendyl Wants to Know?
Email wendylwantstoknow@gmail.com with suggestions. Unfortunately Wendyl cannot correspond with readers.

- NZ Herald

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