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

Wendyl Nissen: Chipping in with nasty additives

Bluebird Duos cheddar and crispy bacon chips $2.15 for 140g. Photo / Supplied
Bluebird Duos cheddar and crispy bacon chips $2.15 for 140g. Photo / Supplied

These chips first arrived in the house courtesy of my husband who loves them. Then my daughter bought home a pack.

I have a fairly strict rule that plain chips are fine, but not flavoured chips. But my rules didn't matter as these limited editions chips gained new fans.

So I bought a pack to look at for this column, only to find that overnight they had disappeared into someone's stomach. That's three packs down.

Bluebird Duos cheddar and crispy bacon chips $2.15 for 140g.

Ingredients (in order of greatest quantity first)

Potatoes

This is encouraging, as you would expect the main ingredient in a bag of chips to be potatoes. There is no percentage though.

Vegetable Oil

Not sure what oil is used. You will get 9g of fat and 4.4g of saturated fat per 27g serving, or about 15 chips.

Cheddar seasoning

[Salt, maltodextrin, whey powder (milk), cheddar cheese powder (milk), hydrolysed vegetable protein (soy), flavour enhancer (621), sugar, flavours (milk), food acids (lactic acid, citric acid), natural colours (paprika extract, turmeric]

These ingredients are fairly standard for a cheddar flavour. I've always said that if you're going for a flavoured snack food, go for cheese because it is most likely to feature natural flavourings such as whey powder, cheese powder, milk flavouring and lactic acid. There is also natural colour in here with paprika and turmeric. The flavour enhancer is a disappointment as it is MSG or monosodium glutamate. The NZ Food Standards Authority says some people who consume MSG may experience symptoms such as burning sensations, numbness, chest pain, headache, nausea and asthma, but it says that it is okay to have in food as long as it is labelled. They advise people with symptoms to avoid it where possible. There is also some sugar in this flavouring in the form of maltodextrin and sugar. Per 27g serve or 15 chips you will get 0.7g of sugar.

Crispy bacon seasoning

[Maltodextrin, lactose, (milk), salt, sugar, flavour enhancers 621, 627, 631), hydrolysed vegetable protein, natural colours (caramel, paprika extract), food acids (citric acid, malic acid), corn starch, yeast extract, flavours].

So no actual bacon in here. Not a skerrick. Instead you have three flavour enhancers, MSG (as above) and its usual sidekicks disodium glutamate (627) and disodium inosinate. These three often appear together when a flavouring is required to taste of some form of meat. There is also yeast, to help that meat flavour and some artificial flavours. The colours are paprika and caramel. Although the label says there are no artificial colours in this food, caramel is made by heating sugars with a range of reactants such as sulphur or ammonia so it doesn't appear in nature as paprika does, it is created. Without telling us which of the four caramel colours are in here it is impossible to tell how natural it actually is.

My recommendations

In my opinion, when it comes to eating chips it is best to stick to the red packs of plain chips without flavourings. Then you will get just three ingredients: potatoes, oil and salt. Once you start trying to make chips taste like bacon without actually putting bacon in, you are ingesting a range of additives you don't really need. I'm okay with the cheese flavour in here, just not the bacon.

Highlights

• No bacon in "crispy bacon chips"

• Uses MSG

• Artificial flavouring

- NZ Herald

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