Of Fillers and Flavor Enhancers

Do you know what’s in your food? “Label Reading” has become a common experience at the grocery store recently, and for a good reason. Whether you’re a label reader or not, there may be a few things about ingredient lists that are either confusing or appear to be innocent on the surface, but in fact have a dark side. Because we believe in real food, we want to help inform you of the differences between fillers and food.

Remember the “JuiceGate” of the early 2000s? Everyone was shocked to hear that their 100% pure juice was, indeed, not as claimed. This was most prevalent with the big orange juice companies, who were caught using flavor packs to restore the orange taste to the not-so-tasty juice product. These packs contained chemicals such as ethyl butyrate, which may or may not be a carcinogen…

What does orange juice have anything to do with it, you say? It serves as a good example of the loopholes that food product companies can use to say one thing, and do another. Every carton of the guilty juice was able to claim 100% juice, because of a legality that let them conveniently forget to mention that oh yeah, and there’s also a flavor enhancer.

Part of the reason Cali’flour Foods has such great success is due to our high standards. We claim a certain amount of ingredients on our labels, and that’s exactly what you get. Unless you count love as an ingredient, but they wouldn’t let us put that on the list. It’s not exactly edible. 

So what are flavor enhancers, or fillers? How do you know how to find them? Great question!

They come in many forms and names, mostly innocent looking and sometimes accurately so. However, there are some ingredients that are just unnecessary, unless of course, you’re looking to make an extra buck. Let’s get to it.


Corn Starch. But corn is a vegetable, so what’s the deal? Right? Well… not really. It grows like one, but it doesn’t act like one in your food. Let’s put the emphasis on the starch part. As with all vegetables turned starch, it converts to sugar very quickly and looks more like a sweetener than a veggie. Watch out for this ingredient in a lot of the Gluten-free foods. It also acts like gluten, holding all the ingredients together (and thus, sticking to your intestines a little easier, yuck!). In fact, many people who suffer from gluten allergies are also sensitive to corn and may not even know it! This is called a Gluten Cross Reactive Allergy

Soy. Not all soy. We’re talking about the GMO dumbed down soy that makes up over 90% of the soy products in America. Organic, and/or fermented is a much different story. Regardless, the generic soy that’s typically used as a filler is what is called goitrogenic. In other words, it suppresses the thyroid by blocking the utilization of iodine, thus contributing to autoimmune deficiency.

Flavor Enhancers

Sugar. Of course. It makes everything taste better. Sugar is cheap, common, and keeps you coming back for more. See our blog on the dangers of sugar here for more information.

The Disodium Trilogy. There are three different types of disodium’s, namely: Guanylate, Inosinate, and Ribonucleotides. These amigos have been linked to hyperactivity and asthma and can be hidden under ingredient list terms such as “flavoring” or “spices”. It’s that easy.

This is a very short list, and for good reason. The full list would make a book, and not a very enthralling one.

Check out this article on the many other additives that can be camouflaged in your food.

One last thing, something often overlooked or simply not even considered.

Serving size.

While you’re picking through that ingredient list, go ahead and take a look at the serving size. How many times have you eaten a whole bag of chips to find that the serving size was something just plain impossible to adhere to? The calories, sugars, fats, etc. can all double or triple according to the amount you actually eat. This requires a little bit of math on your part, but hey, it’s worth the headache. Nutrition labels can look pretty alright until the numbers start adding up. Remember, serving size is something typically conjured up by the manufacturer of the product and very loosely based on FDA regulations.

We encourage you to do some research, know what you’re eating. Know what you’re reading. It may not be what you think it is! And always, always read your labels.

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