Saturday, 5 April 2008

New Scientist

A while ago I have informed my readers of a really bad experience I have had shortly following the demolition of a big pack of Doritos. Over the following night, I have experienced shakes, headaches and weird stomach pains.
Shortly after posting that report I received a direct email from a reader of this blog who is shy of internet exposure, claiming that it’s highly likely the reason for my Doritos experience was the E-621 food additive, better known as monosodium glutamate. Experiments done since seem to indicate that this theory is, indeed, highly likely to be correct.
The question then becomes what types of ready made crisps I am allowed to buy at the supermarket. Luckily, the experimenter scientist in me jumped into the cold water to work out the answer for this one: no package of crisps was left unturned at our local Safeway and at Aldi, where we do most of our grocery shopping.
The results are startling: With the exception of two very specific tastes of crisps, everything has this E-621 in it. The exceptions are Kettle and Red Deli’s very basic potatoes with salt flavors, which contain just potatoes, oil (35% of it!), and salt. In the name of science I have recently consumed big packages of both, and I can report no health issues at all other than that weird feeling I get in my stomach after consuming way too much oil. That said, I see myself repeating this experiment quite often, just in order to increase the number of observations and ensure my scientific conclusions are safe and secure.

On a more serious note, I would like to mention one difference between the Kettle salty chips and the Red Deli ones: The Kettle one contains sunflower oil only, while Red Deli also contains “vegetable oil”. The thing about vegetable oil is that it is often a cover up for palm oil, and the thing about palm oil is that it is mostly generated in mostly illegally cleared forests in Indonesia and similar places. These forests have traditionally been the habitat of our close cousin the orangutan, which is exactly why they are now endangered.
My point is this: When you see a food item with “vegetable oil” in it, don’t buy it. If the manufacturer didn’t have anything to hide, they could have been more specific with their description.
The second point is that between the Kettle salty crisps and the Red Deli ones, the Kettle wins not only because of its superior taste and texture but also because of its superior ethics. But don’t touch any taste of chips other than basic salt – they’re all contaminated!

For the record, the Red Deli chips I have tested in my attempt to expand scientific horizons was the Aldi version, which unlike the regular version contains only sunflower oil.

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