Hidden Ingredients–Flowing/anti-caking agents

I discovered a blog on WordPress called Corn Allergy Girl and since then have spent far too much time reading it, because even though I do not have an allergy to corn, the information the author shares is relevant to me in many ways.  I’ve talked in other places on my blog about how manufactures are not obligated to list every ingredient that goes into a product.  I feel fortunate that oils although difficult to avoid are not as difficult to avoid as corn in our modern world and that my sensitivity dose not require me to have an epi-pen.  Still I think knowledge is a valuable thing and I was very interested in a post where she lists six of the most common ways that substances can make it into your food during the manufacturing process without having to be listed on the label.

  • Flowing/anti-caking agents
  • Sanitizers/ disinfectants
  • Packaging
  • Preservation
  • Vitamin Fortification
  • Fermentation Products

When ingredients aren’t listed on the label the only options for the consumer are to be aware of the potential and take reasonable precautions, such as avoiding foods that are prepared in ways that are likely to use hidden ingredients, or buying from growers or manufacturers that are less likely to use hidden ingredients, or to call and confirm that the ingredients are not in any product that they wish to buy.

It struck me reading her list that vegetable oils and other fats might be in found in these hidden ingredients. So I started looking up anti-caking agents and soon realized that there was going to be a lot of research involved. So today I am just going to talk about anti caking agents.

Anti caking agents are found in powdered foods or foods that need to stay fluid but are dry such as spices, sugars, flours, salts, and things of that nature. They might also be found in any kind of dry mix such as cake mixes or packets of gravy, where the product would be expected to flow out of the package reasonably well.  The reasons given for anti caking agents not being listed on packaging is that they are ‘an industry standard’. For some reason producers claim that if ‘everyone is doing it’ that they shouldn’t have to put it on the label. Another reason is and that ingredients of ingredients do not have to be listed on labels and often these anti caking agents are added by manufacturers long before the sugar or flour are added to actual food.

I found a couple of different lists of anti caking agents online. I’m sure these are not the only agents being used but the lists seemed pretty comprehensive. The agents that I found that people with problems with oils need to look out for are all found on my oil list:

    • Magnesium stearate– a salt made by mixing magnesium salts with stearats obtained from fats of animals or plants.
    • Stearic acid— made from fats of animals and plants.
    • Polydimethylsiloxane— also called dimethicone and one of several types of silicone oil (polymerized siloxane). I have yet to figure out if this is simply a slippery rock that is mined or if it is actually an oil. For now I consider it one of theose substances to keep an eye out for.

The fallowing anti caking agents are all obtained from sources that I am almost positive are not oil related. (please let me know if I am wrong about this) I include them for your information because some of them sound kind of scary and it was very difficult to determine where some of them were originally sourced.

  • Sodium aluminosilicate – aka– aluminum sodium salt, sodium silicoaluminate, aluminosilicic acid, sodium salt, sodium aluminum silicate, aluminum sodium silicate, sodium silico aluminate, sasil. These seem to be salts that contain sodium, aluminum, silicon and oxygen, and seem unlikely to contain vegetable oils or fats.
  • Calcium aluminosilicate— probably very similar to sodium aluminosilicate chemically but with the addition of calcium.
  • Potassium aluminum silicate–probably very similar to sodium aluminosilicate chemically but with the addition of potassium.
  • Sodium ferrocyanide–a cyanide salt generally made from ammonia and caustic soda. Ammonia seems to be made via nitrogen obtained from the Habor-Boshe process from the air. Caustic soda is essentially lye and is made from sodium chloride (salt) using the choralkali process which runs electricity though salt water.
  • Potassium ferrocyanide–similar to sodium ferrocyanide but uses potassium in place of sodium.
  • Calcium ferrocyanide–similar to potassium or sodium ferrocyanide.
  • Calcium carbonate— mostly mined but can be made from quicklime which is generally made from seashells that are heated.
  • Magnesium carbonate— obtained by mining the mineral magnesite or by creating a reaction between epsom salts aka magnesium salts and sodium bicarbonate. Both magnesum salts and sodium bicarbonate are usually mined.
  • Calcium silicate–obtained by reacting calcium oxide and silica. Calcium silicate is a white free-flowing powder derived from limestone and diatomaceous earth. Silica is more commonly known as quartz. Generally obtained by mining.
  • Silicon dioxide – the principle constituent of sandstone.
  • Hydrophobic silica–Silica is more commonly known as quartz. Generally obtained from mining.
  • Calcium phosphate/tri-calcium phosphate – bone ash. Made form heating cleaned bones to 1000 degrees
  • Tricalcium phosphate —obtained from bones and mining.
  • Powdered cellulose— generally made from wood
  • Sodium bicarbonate— is usually mined from water, rock, or soda ash using water.
  • Bone phosphate — made from bone ash treated in a caustic solution and then in hydrocloric acid and then with lime. Hydrocloric acid is made from chlorine which is usually derived from salt.
  • Sodium silicate— derived from quartz sand.
  • Silicon dioxide— mined and purified quartz
  • Magnesium trisilicate— unknown. But probably a silicate mixed with magnesium.
  • Talcum powder— a rock generally mined.
  • Bentonite— a kind of clay that is generally mined.
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