Friday, June 12, 2015

The Awakening

It's no secret that I am an advocate to healthy cooking and using less oil.  So naturally I opted for a cooking product that was calorie- and fat-free - hi Pam.

But lately, I had an epiphany.  I read the label.  I almost always read labels but for products like Pam, when historically, I read them in so many recipes and even saw them being used sparingly in cooking shows, I took the content for granted.

What I found online resulted in a typhoon of emotions: shock, disgust, fear, disappointment.  And the resulting action? I disposed of these IMMEDIATELY.

So here it goes, here's what Pam and other spray oil mainly contain (most of the content below is taken from this site):

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Soy Lecithin:Generically the word lecithin is used to describe fatty acids in plant and animal tissues. It actually acts as a really good emulsifier so in the case of PAM it helps to keep all the ingredients together. An easy analogy here would be what water an oil would look like in a glass. Add an emulsifier and it would bring the two together.

According to the Soy Info Center, soy lecithin is the left over sludge that remains after soybean oil has been extracted. The Soy Info Center goes into detail about it if you want to read up more but it basically goes like this: lecithin is separated using a centrifuge, the natural brownish color goes through a bleaching process at least once with hydrogen peroxide, and then the final process is extraction by acetone.

Dimethyl Silicone: 
According to Om Tex Chem, a manufacturer of this substance, the viscosity allows the silicone to be used in many different areas of such as cosmetics, making candles, waterproofing agents, and furbishes. It’s also an active ingredient in natural glue. In PAM’s case, it helps to keep everything from foaming up. According to another manufacturer, other applications include, polishes for automobiles and furniture, liquid springs and shock absorbers, rust prevention, hydraulic fluids, dielectric fluids, water repellant for cement and bricks, paint and coating additives, textile finishing, and spinneret cleaner.

Rosemary Extract:
Nothing too special here but why is it in PAM? Apparently rosemary extract has good anti-thermal effects so I would imagine that it helps to prevent PAM from burning. Rosemary extract also has a high anti-oxidative effect which helps to preserve the formula.

Propellant:In a New York Times article from late in 2012 talks about a panel of lawyers formally taking on Big Tobacco that decided to take on the company that makes PAM (ConAgra Foods). The lawyers took the side of a woman who after taking a look at her hair spray realized that the final ingredient on her PAM cooking spray was not all to different from her hair spray. What was it? Propellant. According to the New York Times article the mix consists of petroleum gas, propane, and butane.

First of all what is a propellant and why is it in PAM and hair spray?If you haven’t noticed, the contents in the cooking spray are under pressure. When you press down on the cooking spray the differences in pressure between the can and your kitchen cause the gas in the can to expand and drive out the liquid in the can and on to your skillet or baking sheet. Some of the gas dissipates into the air and some remains on the contents in the skillet.

Although the New York Times article states the three gases in the propellant are petroleum gas, propane, and butane, searching the internet suggests there’s also other substances in the propellant. I questioned the validity of everything I found so I decided to get in contact with ConAgra myself. According to the ConAgra representative their propellant includes butane and iso-butane. In their organic sprays the propellant consists of carbon dioxide.

Uses for butane: Fuel for barbecues, aerosol propellant (as in hair spray and PAM), cigarette lighters, and to blend other fuels together.

Uses for iso-butane: Flammable gas that is used in some stoves. This gas replaced freon in refrigerators and freezers as a coolant and as also used as a propellant in aerosol sprays.

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So after reading all that, can you continue using these products? Just because they're on our shelves and have been approved by different entities, does that mean they're good for us?

Read the label, question everything.  If you see words that don't make any sense, chances are they're not good for you.  And lastly, the less ingredients there are in a product, the better that product is for you.

Stay healthy!

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