The Fine Art of Faking Foods

Vanilla-flavored ice cream is not made with real vanilla: Vanilla ice cream is. Vanillin is artificial vanilla. Unnecessary ingredients: sugar in peanut butter. Are they using it to disguise poor peanut quality or seduce the sugar-holies? Rice and potato in their instant versions are not only overly expensive but lack many of the original's nutrients.

Eggs have becomes victims of conversion. They are now created by factory processes known as extrusion in which various oils, stabilizers, binders, artificial food colors, and other ingredients are made into a paste, then forced through an extruder machine and shaped. Its economy and popularity have enticed restaurants, institutions, and commercial bakers to use the product. Very yellow bakery products, meant to give the impression of high egg content, are the result of such concentrated chemically enhanced yolks.

Restaurants can smell enticing. A new spray product is available that can simulate the aroma of freshly baked bread, freshly sliced vegetables, and other savory “home cooking” odors.

Soy products are useful because they can be formed into meat-like products and contain substantial amounts of protein. Soy is a versatile product, and many manufacturers are taking advantage of its possibilities by steeping it in high levels of sodium, artificial coloring, and unnecessary fats. It is a typical example of a healthful product being overmerchandised.
Chicken nuggets, growing in popularity, like so many restaurant products, require no label identification. They usually consist of minced chicken bits, formed with the help of binders and other chemical additives and with artificial chicken flavor. Nuggets are cooked more often in beef tallow than in vegetable oil. High levels of fat and sodium are part of the concoction.

Cheese substitutes are among the biggest moneymakers in the artificial food business. With pizza outdistancing hamburgers and frankfurters in the race for the consumer dollar, pizza production is soaring. Many imitation cheeses taste like mozzarella and provolone and are the result of combining casein with vegetable oils, flavors, and minerals. No product identification is required.

Surimi is one of the most versatile performers in the entire gallery of fake foods. It is a fabricated paste, made in Japan, and masquerades as seafood. The U.S. is importing it at the rate of 50 million pounds a year.

When packaged, it can be labeled “fish” and therefore is not subject to PDA disapproval. Surimi shows up as Pacific white fish-really pollock, crabmeat unlabeled, crab-flavored fish cakes, crab sticks, and seafood salad; it even finds its way into frankfurters and lobster Newburg. Surimi is a medley of cheap fish (eel, croaker, lizard fish), minced and formed into thousands of items. Fish cakes often contain surimi; so do fish balls and other analogs.

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