Reading the ingredient list on your food label and knowing what they are, are two different things. For example: Do you know what the ingredients BHT, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, blue 1, and phosphoric acid are? Well you should, since you are consuming them on a daily basis. One's use is banned in restaurants. Another is mined from the earth. And the Other two are made from petroleum.
Can you imagine what these ingredients are doing to your body? Well don't imagine. Know. Educate yourself. Read on to learn exactly what your food is made of, and what it’s doing to your health.
In all products, ingredients must be listed according to their relative weight. The listing of each ingredient is in a descending order of predominance.
Mug Root Beer’s ingredients are: Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, sodium benzoate (preserves freshness), citric acid, natural and artificial flavors, modified food starch, calcium disodium EDTA (to protect flavor), quillaia extract.
1. Carbonated Water: Plain water into which carbon dioxide gas has been dissolved.
Health effects: Linked to tooth decay. May reduce fertility. Suspected teratogen (any agent that interferes with normal embryonic development).
2. High fructose corn syrup: Corn derived sweetener. Corn starch is processed to corn syrup and then treated with enzymes to convert glucose in fructose.
Health Effects: Excess may increase risk of tooth decay, abnormal weight gain, kidney stones, gout, kidney stones, colon cancer, and diabetes. Large amounts have caused tumors in mice. In 2005, some U.S. manufactured high fructose corn syrup was found to contain trace amounts of mercury.
3. Caramel Color: Brown food coloring and flavoring made by heating a sugar, usually corn syrup. May be processed with ammonia and sulfur to intensify color.
Health effects: May contain ammonium compounds. May affect stomach (gastrointestinal problems), liver, and cause hyperactivity. Caramel color produced with ammonia has been associated with blood toxicity in animals. Associated with reduced white cells and lymphocyte counts.
4. Sodium benzoate: Used as a preservative. It is the sodium salt of Benzoic acid. Benzoic acid is synthesized commercially from toluene. Toluene is produced in the gasoline making process and the making of coke (carbon fuel produced by distillation of coal) from coal. Therefore, sodium benzoate is a petroleum or coal tar derivative.
Health effects: Asthma, hives, hay fever, mouth irritation, and other allergic reactions. Neurotoxicity and brain damage; Linked to hyperactivity and decreased intellect in children. May cause DNA damage, leading to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
Benzene, a known cancer-causing agent, can form in soft drinks when sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid (vitamin c, commonly added to fortify soft drinks) are mixed.
5. Citric acid: A weak organic acid used as a flavoring agent and a preservative. Extracted from citrus fruits or made by fermentation of yeast or mold. May contain MSG. May be genetically modified.
Health effects: If MSG sensitive, may provoke symptoms.
6. Natural flavors: Any flavor not chemically derived. Obtained by physical processes from plants or animals. Made to provide flavor to a food rather than nutritional value. May contain MSG.
Health effects: Unknown.Different foods use different natural flavors and processes. Naturally derived ingredients may be altered, rendered unsafe. It should be noted that the use of the word “natural flavors” is often used to mask the use of harmful, naturally derived flavors.
7. Artificial flavors: A synthetic mixture not found in nature, designed to mimic a natural flavor. May contain MSG. Over 1,700 artificial flavors are approved by the FDA.
Health effects: Unknown. Companies are not required to identify the various synthetic mixtures (1,700 to date) used in foods, requiring only that they be listed under the umbrella of the “artificial flavors” listing. Some individuals are sensitive to artificial flavors, experiencing headaches, nausea, and drowsiness, among other symptoms.
Artificial flavors sample list: benzyl isobutyrate, ethyl acetate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate (petroleum derivative), methyl benzoate (petroleum derivative), hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone. An artificial flavor may be made up of any number of synthetic chemicals.
8. Modified starch: A thickening agent. Starch that has been chemically altered for specific food applications. May be genetically modified.
Chemicals used for modification include, but are not limited to:
propylene oxide - a petroleum derivative
hydrochloric acid - a corrosive used to remove rust
succinic anhydride - used in paper production to strengthen paper
potassium hydroxide - used to make alkaline batteries
sodium hydroxide - chemical base used to make detergents, paper, and drain cleaners
Health effects: Since commonly used in baby foods, safety concerns have arisen due to the use of various chemicals in the making of modified food starch. Especially since babies are still developing and have little resistance to such chemicals. More testing required.
9. Calcium disodium EDTA: A preservative and sequestrant. A synthetic antioxidant.
Health effects:May be a teratogenic (that which interferes with normal embryonic development). May affect liver, cause muscle cramps, blood in urine, kidney damage, and intestinal upsets.
10. Quillaia extract: The extract of the dried quillaja saponaria tree. Used as a foaming agent and emulsifier.
Health effects: Can cause gastrointestinal irritation. Excessive amounts may causeliver damage, respiratory failure, convulsions, and coma.
Now you know the facts. You know what you are consuming, and can make an informed decision.
Scott on January 18, 2020:
What are you sources for these assertions about the effects of these ingredients?
Bob on April 03, 2014:
Just had an A&W Root Beer , 2 quarts over several days. Read ingredients and discovered the word Quillaia in the ingredients. When researching, discovered it can cause some pretty serious side effects. It apparently is designed to cause the soda to foam. Although it is apparently present in very small amounts, it is possible to experience some pretty severe side-effects. I don't normally drink soft drinks anyway, and I sure won't after this experience.
philipandrews188 on August 11, 2011:
Such an informative and helpful hub!
The Smiling Man (author) from USA on May 24, 2011:
Knowledge is power! LOL
Katrina on May 17, 2011:
Very informative. Thank you for the information. "Knowing" what the ingredients are and their purpose helps to open one's eyes. Thanks!
The Smiling Man (author) from USA on March 03, 2011:
I once drank some Mountain Dew after having quit soda for about 6 months. I was playing volleyball with some friends in the hot sun, bursting with energy and super thirsty. We had just run out of water and all we had was Mountain Dew. I drank some, and almost instantly, my energy levels crashed and I had to take a 10 minute break.
Kris on March 02, 2011:
Thk u. My 7yr old daughter just returned home from a visit with her Dad. She was very irritable
restless, argumentative ,'fretful etc. I was suspect that she may have had some caffiene, after reading this I think iv was the mug rootbeer