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: Tenderising alters more than texture of chicken

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Santa Rosa Smoked Chicken Smokey Manuka $7.59 for 300g

Santa Rosa Smoked Chicken Smokey Manuka $7.59 for 300g.
Santa Rosa Smoked Chicken Smokey Manuka $7.59 for 300g.

Ingredients

Tenderised Chicken (100%) - This is a bit misleading. Anyone in the supermarket taking a quick glance to see how much of this product was actually chicken would assume that there is 100 per cent chicken. But that is not true as there is a list of 10 other ingredients on the label. But it does say "tenderised chicken" so the producers could claim that the 10 ingredients make up the "tenderised" bit.

Chicken - This is New Zealand chicken breast but not free-range.

Water - The chicken breast is encased in water in the package.

Salt - There is 780.5mg of sodium per 100g serving, which is quite high but not unusual for a cured meat.

Potato starch - The package says "no added gluten" because the producers have used potato starch instead of corn starch or something similar.

Sugar - A small amount of sugar in here at 0.9g per 100g serving so probably just here for some flavour.

Mineral salts (451,452) - These are diphosphates, which are salt of phosphoric acid and commonly found in cured meats such as bacon.

Anti-oxidant (316) - This is sodium erythorbate, which is a synthetic isomer of ascorbic acid.

Preservative (250) - This is sodium nitrate, a common preservative in packaged meats such as bacon and sausages.

It kills bacteria that cause botulism and also acts as a colour fixative.

There is concern that it can react with stomach acid to form carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds during digestion. A study has found that adults who consumed the highest amounts of nitrate and nitrite were almost 30 per cent more likely to develop bladder cancer than those who consumed the lowest amount of the compounds.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency says: "Exposure to higher levels of nitrates or nitrites has been associated with increased incidence of cancer in adults, and possible increased incidence of brain tumours, leukaemia and nasopharyngeal (nose and throat) tumours in children in some studies but not others."

The EPA concluded that there was conflicting evidence in the literature as to whether exposures to nitrate or nitrites are associated with cancer in adults and in children.

Our Food Standards agency points out that nitrite and nitrate are also found naturally in vegetables and says that conditions related to overexposure to nitrates and nitrite are rare.

Some smallgoods producers are using other preservatives to avoid the use of sodium nitrate or nitrite.

Acidity regulator (331) - This is sodium citrate, which is a salt of citric acid.

Manuka smoke - This will be real smoke, which is nice to see, instead of smoke flavour.

My recommendations

At best this is a piece of smoked chicken breast. At worst its ingredient label is misleading as it gives the impression the package contains 100 per cent chicken when it has 10 other ingredients. I'd rather know what percentage was chicken and what percentage was other ingredients.

- NZ Herald

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