Thank you to the Motherhood and ConAgra Foods for sponsoring this important conversation. All opinions expressed are my own.
Did you know that some of the preservatives in your food are actually antioxidants? Recently, I had the opportunity to sit in on a conference call with ConAgra Foods and the Motherhood and learn a bit more about the makings behind the foods we eat every day.
The conversation is an important one and learning more about the ins and outs helps to make us a bit more informed about what we consume – both for us and our family.
Director, Communications & External Relations at ConAgra Foods
Kelly Magurany,M.Sc., DABT
Principal Research Scientists- Toxicology – Food Protection and Regulatory Affairs at ConAgra Foods
Kristi Reimers,RD, PhD, Nutrition
Director of Nutrition in Research & Innovations at ConAgra Foods
Here are a few quick facts about preservatives to give you a bit of background:
Typically, when we talk about preservatives, we are talking about the elements that help to preserve the taste, freshness, safety, and color of our favorite foods. It also can help to reduce food waste and in a growing world and population, preserving the food we have is becoming more and more invaluable. While we can preserve our food via canning and freezing, you can also add ingredients to food – preservatives – that help to accomplish those goals as well.
It sounds scary or intimidating, right? But no matter where you fall on the side of this coin, we can all agree that more knowledge is better. And educated decisions are the best ones. I encourage you to research, dig and look for more information on your favorites so that you can feel comfortable giving your family the very best.
Antioxidants are just some of the preservatives that can be found in your foods. Some of the body benefits of antioxidants include slowing the aging process, boosting our natural defense system and combatting heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Did you know that some foods already contain natural antioxidants, such as Vitamin E in nuts and leafy green vegetables? Or Vitamin C found in citrus fruits that can also save breads and packaged meat from spoiling? Or Citric Acid found in citrus fruits that is used to preserve sliced fruit?
These natural antioxidants already serve a valuable purpose to our food and man-made antioxidants can provide the same sort of protections that these naturally occurring antioxidants do. BHT and TBHQ are two of the tasteless, colorless man-made antioxidants used to keep foods fresh such as crackers, oils and other packaged foods. Figuring out the science behind preservatives and antioxidants was incredibly eye-opening and actually elicited even more questions from the group.
One of my biggest concerns when discussing was what these man-made antioxidants actually do TO us – are they chemicals? Artificial? And what are the long-lasting health effects. One of the other viewers asked:
“Have cancer rates been monitored over the time period that BHT and TBHQ been used?”
“In general, the science world monitors cancer rates for everything. But there has actually been work done with BHT in looking at any increased cancer rates. Large epidemiology studies, which are studies in populations of humans, found that there was no increase risk, and in fact, they saw a decreased cancer risk. What they find is that these antioxidants do have some anti-carcinogenic properties.”
I appreciated the conversation because ConAgra’s experts were open books. They addressed our questions with a sense of transparency and seemed eager to share information – even if just to give a better understanding of this entire process. As with anything, I strongly encourage conducting your own research and asking your own questions. One of the biggest things I can appreciate is that we are starting to ask the right questions and trying to figure out just where our food comes from and what it’s made of.
What are some of the concerns you have in the way your food is produced? If you could ask ConAgra questions about food production, preservatives and anti-oxidants, what would they be?