A while back I made dinner for myself and friends and unintentionally poisoned the lot of us, albeit only as a ho- meopathic dose. The custard I made as dessert had a list of ingredients that included cornflour, sugar, salt and a few numbers: 102 (Tartrazine) and 110 (Sunset Yellow).
I consulted the The Chemical Maze, a reference book about numbers in food, and it revealed that these are considered potentially harmful to humans. Ingesting these synthetic colours, upon further investigation, not only pointed to a health hazard, but were in fact potentially carcinogenic.
When asked of the health implications, the custard company responded with waffle about its consumer concerns, corporate responsibilities and meeting Australian food standards. Regardless of my unanswered questions, this lesson has taught me that we as consumers are mostly oblivious of being sold poison.
Custard, after all, is just egg, sugar and milk. That’s it. The numbers are there to poison us and to make it yellow.
If you really want yellow custard, tumeric or saffron could be the answer. Why would you add a nasty colour additive when a natural one would suffice? Is it because it’s cheaper to unload excess chemical residue onto the public, rather than use a natural colour?
The supermarket I bought the custard from stocks at least three brands of custard powder, and they all included those same additives.
I now have the Chemical Maze book as an application on my iPhone, which is handy in a supermarket. It would be great to see labelling where the additive – and its effects – are by law designed to stand out on the packet in a huge bold font. Just like a cigarette warning, it would scream at us that we are potentially buying and eating chemical garbage.