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Commercial Ice Cream Ingredients Will Make You Scream!


I love ice cream. Soft serve, frozen rock solid, in a dish, in a cone, a sundae or mixed to make a doesn't matter. I like them all. But I stopped eating much of it about three years ago when I made a final decision to remove as many artificial ingredients as possible from my diet. It wasn't that I found anything specific in manufactured ice cream. I simply wanted my diet to consist of home made meals made with whole foods I prepared myself. I was also determined to remove all expensive unnecessary items off my food list. Ice cream was one of them. I figured it's loaded with sugary calories I certainly didn't need, nor did I wish to pay out so much money for those unnecessary calories.

Recently, my mother in support of my efforts, gifted me with a brand new soft serve ice cream maker. With seven grandchildren and lots of weekly overnight visits, I figured it would be a good thing to have around for providing a treat while being sure there were no “surprise” ingredients that were less than healthy. After making several different flavors over the next few weeks, I realized something absolutely great about making my own ice cream. It was so much more filling than the commercial kind. An added bonus was the total calorie count, only 130 for a half cup of vanilla. For most flavors calories were between 130 and 160. That's not bad when you also take into account that there are no mystery ingredients and no chemicals that play havoc with your health.

On a whim, I decided to look up a list of ingredients found on commercially produced ice cream. I was shocked, then outraged when I began researching the individual ingredients. I discovered that the garbage being labeled as ice cream is nothing more than a frozen concoction of toxic chemicals with no dietary value at all. When all is said and done, the end result is a mass of non-food masquerading as a delicious dairy treat.

List of Chemical Ingredients

The following is a list of common ingredients found in most commercial ice cream products. Prepare to be appalled by the apparent lack of concern for the welfare of the consumers. Prepare to be enraged that the FDA has given approval for these ingredients to be put in our food in the interest of enriching the food processing corporations.

Butyraldehyde is a derivative of butane, used in manufacturing plasticizers, alcohols, solvents and polymers. It has an almond like smell and is used to make flavors.

Amyl acetate, more often called banana oil, is used as a flavoring agent. It is also a paint and lacquer solvent, and is used in the preparation of penicillin.

Diethyl glycol is used in the production of polyester resins and plasticizers, and is a paint solvent. In ice cream, it's used as a cheap substitute for eggs to thicken the product. Three years ago it was mistakenly used in paracetamol (acetaminophen) syrup and caused the deaths of 25 children in Bangladesh. Five years ago, it was found in discount toothpaste made in China and pulled from store shelves in Miami, Port of Los Angeles & Puerto Rico. Health officials called it a sweet syrupy poison and warned it was toxic to children and people with kidney or liver disease. “Counterfeiters” have found it profitable to substitute diethylene glycol for its chemical cousin glycerin because it is cheaper. The FDA said the substance in ANY amount is not suitable for use in toothpaste. ( I find it interesting that it's not suitable for use in a product that is spit out, but ok for a food that is intentionally ingested)

Aldehyde C-17 is an inflammable liquid used in dyes, plastics, rubber and as a food flavoring. I did several searches looking for this specific aldehyde but couldn't find it anywhere, though there is much online regarding aldehydes in general, as well as specific types. For me...something that can be doubled as a food flavoring as well as in the manufacture of plastics and rubber, isn't something I think I want to eat.

Piperonal is used in place of vanilla as a cheap substitute though, interestingly, it is a natural substance that comes from the vanilla bean. It is listed in the National Library of Medicine HSDB Database as “moderately toxic” and a “human skin irritant”. Another use for it? To kill lice. I can't wonder at the term “moderately toxic”. Does that mean it will only cause a small amount of cancer? Or only make people a little sick? Or maybe it means we won't die quickly but at a more “moderate” pace.

Ethyl Acetate is a solvent in coatings and inks and is used for the extraction of fatty materials during food processing. It's also used to create a pineapple flavor. The vapor is known to cause chronic lung, liver, and heart damage. The MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) claims toxicity if ingested in quantity but warns that formaldehyde toxicity increases with ethyl acetate. That might be an interesting twist in “diet” ice creams that use aspartame, as aspartame is a chemical which transforms into formaldehyde in the body. Or even better...have an ice cream float with diet soda which contains formaldehyde caused by aspartame! Woo Hoo!!! Cancer Sundae!

Monoglicerides, Diglicerides, & Triglicerides – all three substances are composed of fatty acids, and all may contain trans fats when those fatty acids are subjected to high heat processing. The industry only has to report trans fat content from triglycerides (not mono or di) even though trans fats are inevitably formed when mono and di are manufactured. {industry is playing with serving sizes in order to keep trans fats under the ½ gram per “serving” allowance so as not to have to report them. Under ½ equals zero for labeling.}

Disodium phospate – the MSDS is rather useless. Apparently not much is known about the chemical other than it's slightly hazardous in case of skin and or eye contact, and in case of ingestion and inhalation. Carcinogenic Effects: not available Mutagenic Effects: not available Teratogenic Effects: not available Developmental Toxicity: not available. I guess not knowing is the same as being safe when it comes to food processing.

Benzyl acetate is used in soaps, detergents, incense, oils, lacquers, polishes, printing inks and as a solvent in plastics and resins. It is also used in food flavors. It is known to be carcinogenic in rodents, causing tumors in lungs, liver and gastrointestinal organs, though it's claimed that there's only a 0.1% probable chance of such in humans. That's an interesting claim as there is very little reproductive data or long term studies to determine dangers.

This is the model I personally own.  It's a Cuisinart Front Gate model.  Works great!

This is the model I personally own. It's a Cuisinart Front Gate model. Works great!

Monostearates are considered of low toxicity but toxic nonetheless.

Propylene glycol – The ATSDR lists the skin, kidneys, urinary, and respiratory systems as being affected by the chemical. It's a synthetic liquid that absorbs water and is used in foods to absorb extra water and maintain moisture. It's a solvent for food colors and flavors, and in plastics and paint.

This is a link to an addendum put out by the CDC for propylene glycol

Bottom's toxic.

Sodium benzoate has the ability to deprive cells of oxygen, to break down the immune system and cause cancer. It is actually the sodium salt of benzoic acid and known to be carcinogenic, causing damage at the cellular level through deprivation of oxygen in mitochondria cells, sometimes even shutting them down altogether.

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The FDA says it's ok to use as preservative because of the low amount used, though it can't be combined with any vitamin C or E which causes benzene to be formed. Benzene causes cancer. So foods containing sodium benzoate should never be mixed with most fruits, condiments, sodas, salad dressings, jellies, mouthwash, toothpaste, cough syrup or thousands of cosmetics and lotions. Basically, it's virtually impossible to keep consumption of sodium benzoate separate from consumption of vitamin C or E. Parkinson's, neuro-dengerative diseases, and premature aging have all been attributed to sodium benzoate.

Polysorbate 80 is used in ice cream to resist melting. So while we get to enjoy ice cream that takes longer to become a drippy mess, this chemical is working to suppresses our immune system. It can cause severe allergic reactions including anaphylactic shock., and causes infertility, abnormal heart rhythm, heat attack, stroke, tumor growth and cancer. {Here's an interesting side note: scientists are currently working on a vaccine that will intentionally cause fertility problems as a method of birth control. The main ingredient is Polysorbate 80.}

Potassium sorbate is used as a preservative to inhibit the growth of yeast and molds, therefore increases shelf life. Continued ingestion of the substance over time leads to allergic reactions such as nausea, diarrhea, and nutrient loss in food.

Modified corn starch – all modified food starches have been treated with an acid in order to lower their viscosity (thick, not free flowing, semifluid). Long term effects are completely unknown. Generally speaking, modified starches are very hard for the human body to digest. Modified corn starch often contains about 10% maltodextrin, a common keyword used by the industry to hide the presence of MSG. If it's on the label, you can bet it's not a natural genetic modification, but rather something done in a laboratory. About 70% of all processed foods contain genetically modified ingredients.

Soy lecithin – The biggest problem with this ingredient is that most of the world's soybeans have been genetically modified which in itself poses many health hazards to humans and the environment in which we live. When it comes to the process used to manufacture soy lecithin, it is usually confined to unfermented soy sources because it becomes cheaper and quicker to make. Unfermented soy has been linked to digestive distress, immune system breakdown, PMS, endometriosis, reproductive problems for both sexes, allergies, ADD and ADHD, a higher risk of heart disease and cancer. There is a question of malnutrition as a result of digestion issues and a loss of libido.

I'm so glad I've got my ice cream maker! I use between 4 and 8 ingredients, all consisting of REAL foods. The number of ingredients used depends solely on the flavor of ice cream I'm making. If you're interested in making your own delicious and very healthy ice cream, there are hundreds of websites dedicated to nutritious recipes. And for those who don't have an ice cream maker at their disposal, see this How-To by our own Maddie Rudd!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Susan Holding on January 13, 2020:

Hugely helpful article!

Alan Sage on September 11, 2019:

I love Ice Cream. I eat it every day.

Bill Milligan on July 12, 2019:

Can add one more to the list, grains fed to the cow's, much of which is loaded with glycophosphate.

xavie2110 on October 03, 2018:

wow, that tells a heck of alot.

anil on September 01, 2018:

Good to know side effect of ice creams due to its ingredients.

aditya choudhury on March 18, 2018:

your ice cream is best in the world please can i know your ingredents

Clare on January 25, 2018:

When I eat ice cream around 7:00 PM, I wake up in the middle of the night with a fast heart rate, am nauseous & have to get up & walk around until I'm able to go back to bed. Result: I no longer eat commercial ice cream. Now that I read what ingredients are in commercial stuff, there is something I've become allergic to. Anyone else sharing these allergies?

Murl Jackson on May 10, 2017:

Just read your article about ice cream after someone in our discussion today said the IC contained formaldehyde. Foods we have today do have many chemicals as preservatives, texturizers, flavorers, etc. Many of them we should limit in our intake, or, in some cases, avoid entirely. However, I believe your article is overdone in the scare factor. In a very limited search I found that, in 2007 the European Food Standards Authority reported that formaldehyde was safe in levels used as the preservative in the production of carregeenan and alginates, which were used in ice cream at that time.

I believe that much of your toxicity data are based on studies that determined the LD 50 level in rats for the particular chemical. Translated to human intake would often mean eating 10 to 15 kg of IC a day for months.

A second area of scare is the guilt by association - where you have given what the chemical was derived from that would be toxic, or other applications of the chemical where it may be used as a processing agent or precursor to a toxic chemical. That is akin to saying that sodium chloride, an essential compound for the body, is very toxic because it is made from sodium and chlorine, both of which are extremely toxic to a person.

In my nearly 40 year vocation as a chemist I synthesized, or supervised the synthesis, of many of the compounds found in the actual whole foods.

Finally, I believe we need to be careful in converting people to eating only "organically grown" or pure foods that have no additives. There is a whole area of naturally occurring toxins in nature and associated with growing our own foods.

I grew up eating much of our home grown foods and believe that people today who do not have the opportunity to work the soil and eat unprocessed foods are sometimes at a disadvantage. However, the safety of our foods today, I believe, is one source of our increased longevity, along with better medical care obviously. So, let's not throw our the baby with the wash. And, finally, thanks for a good thought provoking article.

spacemanusa on March 03, 2014:

Wow - some of those ingredients sound pretty scary. There are many manufacturers of delicious frozen yogurt flavors that do not have any of the ingredients here.


Mike from Providence, Ri on March 18, 2013:

Wow, I knew what was in Ice Cream was bad for you but I never thought that it would be this bad, wow. Probably going to star making homemade ice cream from now on.

crs14 on February 27, 2013:

How do I know that those chemicals are actually in ice cream? Could you give us a link to your information?

Suzie from Carson City on July 30, 2012:

WOW!! You're prepared for everything! Thanks!

Terri Meredith (author) from Pennsylvania on July 30, 2012:

Suzie from Carson City on July 30, 2012:

Well...just about every last thing I prepare is from whole, natural, allegedly healthy, often organic.......(I READ labels) so what the HAYYYYYYY.......might as well add Ice cream to that list. Never did it before but I'm sure I can learn!! Sure hope there's a recipe for ROCKY ROAD!!!

Terri Meredith (author) from Pennsylvania on July 30, 2012:

Yes, unfortunately, our ice cream has been poisoned. But, there's always homemade! Tastes better, more filling (which equals less calorie consumption) and full of nature's nutrients that will feed our bodies and maintain our health. I can't talk enough about the benefits of making our own dishes from whole foods, no matter whether it's a main course or a snack. As always, thanks for dropping by!

Suzie from Carson City on July 30, 2012:

OHhhhhhhhhhh Terri....Please NO! Not ice cream!!!?? It is my one and only indulgence! Excuse me, I'm leaving to go cry somewhere!!

great hub! just GREAT!!! lol

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on July 23, 2012:

3 minutes Carolina Chocolate Drops- the best kind of food is made by hand -you can only get it from the land!

Terri Meredith (author) from Pennsylvania on July 23, 2012:

Thanks, I'll have to get a minute to visit the site.

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on July 23, 2012:

You'll like this Terri if you haven't already heard Country Girl.

Pauline Davenport from Isle of Man on July 22, 2012:

I totally agree Terri - growing your own is a bit tricky when you haven't a garden though but at present we're growing potatoes in sacks out the front - they don't look bad with their pretty flowers. Herbs are easy useful and pretty in pots too. All I'm saying is, with a bit of thought we can all have a little 'uncontaminated' stuff, even if we have to compromise on other things. It would be good if we could all be enthusiastic about cooking and growing, for all our children's sakes

Terri Meredith (author) from Pennsylvania on July 21, 2012:

Thanks, chefsref! It sure is very distressing about the food situation. I've encouraged my daughters to grow their own for their families as I believe it's only going to get worse. This generation is showing the signs of illness brought about by poor nutrition and I'm seeing an increase in those who are my children's age. I truly fear for my grandchildren. The only way to put a stop to so many additives in our food is for people to stop buying the stuff and go back to making and growing our own. Thank you for taking time to comment!

Lee Raynor from Citra Florida on July 21, 2012:

Excellent article, it is distressing to see how much food in America has become toxic. I write a bit about this stuff and even did an article about ice cream but I didn't go into details about the additives the way you did. Thumbs up!

Terri Meredith (author) from Pennsylvania on July 21, 2012:

Hello there, Pauline!

You're so right about food allergies. I remember going for ice cream when I was a child and hearing my parents complain that ice cream didn't taste the same anymore. As a result, there were specific ice cream stands we avoided because my mother didn't like their "fake" ice cream which was puffed up with so much air. Little did she realize that she was probably doing us kids a huge favor by sticking to the places that still served "real" ice cream. The flavors I've made at home taste the ice cream we used eat back in the day...

Thanks for sharing/tweeting. I hope more and more people start making their own wholesome dishes and hit the garbage peddlers where it hurts....the wallet.

Pauline Davenport from Isle of Man on July 21, 2012:

It's no wonder there are so many children around with food allergies these days is it with all the rubbish that's in pre-prepared food? when my eldest son was little, he would take the book of E-numbers around with him and throw anything back with anything like an e-number in it. We did have to eat a lot of fresh.

Making your own of anything is the best, but making your own ice cream is fun even if the kitchen is a bomb site afterwards - who cares?

Thanks for all this Terri- am Tweeting this - very timely information

Dale Hyde from Tropical Paradise on Planet X on July 20, 2012:

We do make our own. :) I used to use the old hand cranked ones, but now, at my age, now that I am like 28 or so, I need those that are electric. :)

Terri Meredith (author) from Pennsylvania on July 20, 2012:

Aww...Dale, I'm sorry! But, hey, you can always make your own. Actually it's pretty much fun, especially when you start putting your own fresh fruit flavors into it and just plain old experimenting. So much better for you. Thanks for stopping by and for the vote!

Dale Hyde from Tropical Paradise on Planet X on July 20, 2012:

Man! You took all the fun out of ice cream!

Well done hub and most informative. I was aware of some of what you cover, but much of this is news to me.

Voted up, interesting and useful.

Terri Meredith (author) from Pennsylvania on July 20, 2012:

Yes, it is. I wonder if those making these kinds of decisions will stop before we are all dead. Thanks for commenting.

Free2writ3 from Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania on July 20, 2012:

Very scary

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