Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Read a Good Label Lately?

When I’m between novels (currently reading For Sale in Palm Springs, a mediocre murder mystery from the pen of Albert Simon not quite fast paced enough to be a thriller – I’ll post a review later) I read whatever is available.  Street signs, T-shirts, cereal boxes, license plates, billboards, whatever.
It’s amazing what you find boldly set in writing if you just look.
For example, last night one of the ingredients for the supper I prepared was Pillsbury Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes.  In with the cheddar cheese powder and blue cheese powder was FDA Red #40 food coloring.  I couldn’t see anything red in the item as I prepared it according to package directions, but it’s there none-the-less.  In fact, a whole bunch of things on our shelves have FDA Red #40 in them.  It causes big time headaches in my wife.  It’s also in Ranch Wheat Thins, Cherry Twizzlers, and hummingbird nectar (red colored sugar water).  Red #40, also known as Allura Red AC (disodium 6-hydroxy-5-((2-methoxy-5-methyl-4-sulfophenyl)azo)-2-naphthalenesulfonate), is an azo dye once made from coal tar. These days it’s a petroleum byproduct.  Yum!
MiO is a ‘liquid water enhancer’ I saw on the shelf in our grocery store yesterday.  I presume ‘liquid’ to refer to the state of the enhancer product, and not the ‘water,’ which I think is usually assumed to be in liquid form.  I ‘Googled’ it (interesting how nouns make their way into our vocabulary as verbs, isn’t it?) and found a number of links for the product, and a very badly written review by a guy named Steve who got a free sample in the mail.  One of the primary ingredients is Propylene Glycol (HO-CH2-CHOH-CH).  You know it’s a primary ingredient because they list them in order of content, and this is third on the list after water and malic acid, whatever that is.  It’s even in front of the FDA Red #40.  Oh yeah – it’s a primary ingredient in automobile engine coolant.  I guess it means if you add this stuff to your drinking water, you can run all summer without overheating.  Think about it.  Not only have advertisers convinced us to buy water in bottles (Evian is naïve spelled backwards) but not they’re trying to sell us more water infused with refined petroleum to ‘enhance’ it.
Do you have any clue what reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, sodium aluminum phosphate and invert sugar are?   Me either, but they’re all in Sam’s Club Member’s Mark Snickerdoodle Cookies.  And their Member’s Mark Super Sweet Corn is labeled ‘product of China’.   You remember China?  They’re the guys who brought us lead paint (poison) in children’s toys, asbestos (poison) in dry wall, Propylene Glycol (anti-freeze) in toothpaste, and who hold the markers on most of our liquid wealth (money).
For some reason I’m having flashbacks to an old episode of WKRP in Cincinnati in which Howardf Hessman’s character (Doctor Johnny Fever) sets up a commercial by telling his listeners to brush their teeth, and remember to rinse with a nice, refreshing glass of “CHEMICALS!”  WKRP aired over 30 years ago.  Almost prophetic, and more accurate than recent Doomsday predictions.
 I was going to tell you what’s on the label for the rotisserie chicken at many food chains, but I think I’ve read enough labels for one day.  Back to the almost a novel but not quite a thriller.

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