By Constance DeGroat

As I started my clean diet journey, I was surprised to find even frozen fish contained more ingredients than just the fish. The second ingredient was sodium tripolyphosphate also known as pentasodium salt, or triphosphoric. It sounds harmless because it’s sodium.

Sodium tripolyphosphate not only preserves the fish but adds weight. When you purchase seafood, it’s usually by the amount it weighs. Besides guarding your wallet, here are the health concerns.

  • You can find this chemical in laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, paints, ceramic products, toilet cleaners, milk, shrimp, scallop, and juice.
  • To avoid sodium tripolyphosphate make sure to eat seafood that is dry and not labeled wet.
  • Sodium tripolyphoshate is also registered as an insecticide, fungicide and rodenticide. California’s Occupational and Safety Health Act registered it as an air contaminant.
  • According to their safety data sheet, sodium tripolyphosphate is toxic to the lungs and prolonged exposure can damage the organs.
  • If you suffer from an autoimmune disease avoid frozen seafood! It can cause inflammation and painful flare-ups. [i]

Even simple foods like fish are counted as processed foods.

Definition of processed foods: What are they?

Processed foods involve food chemistry and agricultural chemistry. Food processing can be as basic as canning, freezing, baking and drying. The evolution of processed foods during the industrial revolution resulted in the ever-growing list of 2,000 food chemicals used today. The goal of food chemistry is to feed the growing world population, at a fast-affordable cost. An affordable cost involves food lasting longer in stores and homes.

When you think of processed foods, I’m sure you think of cookies, chips, candy, and every other kind of delicious junk food out there. Processed foods contain chemicals acting as fillers and preservatives. You don’t need five words or more of ingredients you can’t pronounce or have never heard of to decide a food is processed. As we can see from the frozen fish example, a product can contain 2 ingredients to make it processed. We can read the labels, but not all of the ingredients are accounted for. When you see the words artificial flavors or natural flavors it is plural for a reason. It represents the number of chemicals used.


Let’s look at bread.

We’ve all heard stories around Thanksgiving time about how the pilgrims survived on their ship for months with stale bread. Our processed breads today would still look and taste fresh with all the fluff we throw in them. You’re barely eating any grain when you eat a slice of bread. It’s not uncommon for companies to add wood chips to give bread weight. There’s barely any flour in bread.

The quick production of bread fills bread with water and air. To make sure bread survives all this quick production and watering down, companies add a dough conditioner. Subway’s bread contains five bread conditioners: sodium stearoyl lactylate, monoglycerides, diglycerides, ascorbic acid, and diacetyl tartaric ester of monoglyceride, known as DATEM. These chemicals hold the bread together and prevent it from sticking to the machines. They are made of soybean oil, beef tallow, or palm oil. They add azodicarbonamide for the texture of Subway’s bread. Azodicarbonamide comes from sodium hypochlorite and ammonia. Companies also use Azodicarbonamide in rubber and plastic products. Most notably for the soles of shoes and floor mats at gyms. When a truck overturned carrying this chemical through traffic, people complained of burning eyes and skin irritation from exposure.

The maker of Rudi bread used to work in factories making bread just like Subway’s. Now he makes his own organic bread.

The only ingredients we should see on bread is flour, water, salt, and yeast.

Food chemistry is a growing industry. It’s a well-paid college major.  [ii]

Food Chemistry (flavorists) Involves:  

  • Preservatives

Example: Benzoates: Authorities banned Benzoates from food processing in 1911, but brought it back during World War I. Linked to cancer and hyperactivity in children.

Sulphur dioxide: Companies use Sulphur dioxide to preserve food and drinks. Overuse in Sydney, Australia led to a lawsuit. The high content in meat causes asthma. [iii]

  • Colorants

Examples: The most common colorants used are Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6. These dyes contain carcinogens.

  • Flavors

Examples: Monosodium Glutamate. Has been linked to moodiness, headaches, nausea, and brain damage.

Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein: Source of MSG. May cause reactions to individuals sensitive to gluten, wheat, soy, or milk. Linked to brain damage.

  • Texturants

Examples: Potassium Bromate: Is a dough conditioner. It causes cancer in animals and humans. [iv]

Sodium Silicoaluminate: Anti-caking agent. Contains aluminum and is linked to Alzheimer’s Disease.

  • Hidden sugar and salt in foods create food addictions. [v]

How to Avoid Processed Foods

The FDA allows leeway on the percentage of natural ingredients necessary to say something is organic, natural, homemade, etc. The only way you can truly avoid processed foods is making your own food with fresh ingredients without labels. Read labels and educate yourself. Make sure you’re entrusting your health to people who don’t see you as a dollar sign. We put so much effort into saving for the car we want, game system, etc. We should spend more on our most valuable resource – our body. Buy the right fuel for your body.

While we look to other countries thinking we have it made with our easily available food, we are so far from the truth. Americans are starving for real food and nutrients. The chemicals and fillers may fool your stomach into believing you are full, but your health is deteriorating.

How your food choices affect your nutrition:

  • The hidden sugars deplete our bodies of vitamin C, calcium and magnesium.
  • High fructose corn syrup depletes the body of chromium, magnesium, and zinc.
  • Disodium EDTA: Vitamin C, magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc, and potassium.
  • Phosphoric Acid: Calcium and magnesium
  • Guar gum: Beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein
  • Synthetic Sulfites: Thiamine (Vitamin B1)[vi]



[ii] Melanie Warner, Pandora’s Lunchbox, How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal





Feature image via SecureNow