Wendyl Wants To Know

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

What's in that Cadbury chocolate snack?

It pays to read the small print even when choosing  block of chocolate with a familiar - almost - name. Photo / Supplied
It pays to read the small print even when choosing block of chocolate with a familiar - almost - name. Photo / Supplied

We had a birthday party for a bunch of 14-year-old girls at our house recently and all bets were off when it came down to selecting the party food.

My daughter spent a mere 10 minutes gathering lollies, chocolates and fizzy drink to accompany the pizza.

I resisted the urge to get out my magnifying glass and comb over every product analysing the ingredients panel but one product caught my eye.

This block of chocolate was nestled in among other blocks but a quick peek at the ingredients gave me all the information I needed to know. The return of the artificial colours which are banned in other countries.

I let them eat it but I will probably interfere next time and steer them towards an alternative chocolate block.

Ingredients:

* Full cream milk

This is milk as it comes with all the cream left in it, unlike much of the milk we drink today which has had some or all of it removed.

* Sugar

Coming in as the second highest ingredient in this product means there is a lot of sugar in here. Per 25g serve or three squares you will get 15g or about 3.5 teaspoons.

* Cocoa butter

This is a pale yellow vegetable fat taken from the cocoa or cacao bean. Some chocolate manufacturers opt to put vegetable oil in their chocolate instead of this butter, so this is a good sign that the chocolate will taste good.

* Milk solids

When you dehydrate milk you get proteins and carbohydrates left behind which is milk solids.

* Cocoa mass

When you grind cocoa beans up you get a paste which is cocoa mass.

* Wheat glucose syrup

This is another form of sugar, in this case obtained from wheat.

* Golden syrup

Golden syrup is an amber coloured liquid which is created during the processing of sugar cane.

* Strawberry conserve

Other food manufacturers give a separate list of ingredients for jam or conserve when it features in their products.

We can only assume that the ingredients that went into the conserve have been included in the ingredients panel somewhere.

* Emulsifiers (soya lecithin, 476)

Soya lecithin is a yellow-brownish fatty substance taken from soya beans. And 476 stands for polyglycerol polyricinoleate which is made from castor beans and is a common ingredient in chocolate because it reduces the thickness of the product. Both ingredients are in here as emulsifiers which usually act to keep oil and water mixed together.

* Coconut

This is plain old coconut, in here most likely as a flavouring.

* Vegetable fat

In 2009 Cadbury announced that they would no longer use palm oil in their dairy milk chocolate. Three-quarters of all palm oil comes from Malaysia and Indonesia where rainforests - housing the Bornean and Sumatran orang-utans and other flora and fauna - are being destroyed.

* Glace pineapple

This is basically pineapple which has been crystallised or candied by placing the fruit in a heated sugar syrup which preserves it.

* Food acids (260, 330, 331, 339, 341)

These acids will be present in the six different fillings. They are potassium acetate (260), citric acid (330) sodium citrates (331)sodium phosphates (339) and calcium phosphates (341). All are very common food acids.

* Mixed citrus peel (contains preservative (223)

This is the peel you would find in fruit cakes. The preservative used in this citrus peel is sodium metabisulphite (223) which some people have an intolerance to and asthmatics are advised to avoid.

* Pectin

This is a natural substance found in fruit and used in jams as a setting agent. It will probably be in the strawberry conserve.

* Flavours

The flavours listed are coconut ice, pineapple, strawberry, turkish delight, caramel and orange. The flavours will be artificial but there are some natural ingredients used such as coconut and pineapple.

* Salt

* Egg albumen

This is egg white.

* Colours (102, 110, 122, 123, 124)

All of these artificial colourings have been banned in other countries, three in the US - which takes some doing - and two in Britain. Yet Food Standards Australia and New Zealand allows all of them to be used in our foods.

Tartrazine (102) is an artificial yellow dye which has been banned in Norway and Britain due a study which found links to hyperactivity in children. Our Food Standards Authority (FSANZ) says that in Australia (where this product is made) food manufacturers use lower levels than those used in the British study.

Sunset Yellow FCF (110) is banned in Norway and Finland. After the same study mentioned for tartrazine Britain requested a voluntary withdrawal of this colouring in all its foods and it is thought that most foods manufactured in Britain do not use this colouring anymore.

Carmoisine (122) is a red synthetic coal tar dye which has been banned in Canada, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United States. It can cause allergic reactions.

Amaranth (123) is a dark red or purple dye which is a suspected carcinogen banned in the US in 1976 as well as in Russia, Norway and Austria.

It is also restricted in France and Italy. The ban on amaranth in the United States and several other countries was the result of numerous studies citing links to cancer in laboratory animals as well as birth defects, stillbirths, sterility and early fetal death. It is not recommended for consumption by children and is considered very dangerous as it increases hyperactivity in affected children.

Ponceau 4R (124), a red synthetic colour which has been banned in the US, Norway and Finland. It can cause allergic reactions and there are concerns that it might be carcinogenic (cancer causing).

My recommendation:

If you're going to eat chocolate I think it's a good idea to eat it in its most real and uncomplicated state. Because of the fillings you are introducing five artificial colourings and numerous other additives to a simple chocolate treat.

Instead you could choose plain dairy milk chocolate which has eight ingredients per block instead of the massive 28 ingredients per block of this product. I'll bet your children won't even notice the difference.

Highlights

* Five artificial colours banned in other countries.
* Artificial flavours.
* 3.5tsp of sugar in three squares.

Do you have a food product you would like to feature?

Email her at wendylwantstoknow@gmail.com with your suggestions. Unfortunately, Wendyl cannot correspond directly with readers.

- NZ Herald

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