Crunchy, zesty flavorful and branded, Doritos offers their consumers a true sensory experience when consuming their products. Their flavors of Doritos range from the popular Nacho Cheese, to the not so popular Clam Chowder flavor in Japan. This company has grown to be a household staple chip in the United States and their marketing backs that. They are one of the most successfully marketed chip companies out there.
Comparable to Coca Cola’s branding, Doritos offer the consumer something else that no other chip can: intense, accurate and responsive flavor that keeps you grabbing more and more. However, rarely, is a chip construed as a health food or something that is even good for you. We all know that, it’s like ice cream: eat it sparingly. But, don’t you wish you actually knew what kinds of dangers lurk in Doritos? Not only are these to be eaten sparingly, they are flat out dangerous by many consumer standards. However, there is not a whole lot of over site and regulations that are used in the ingredients. Here is a list of the ingredients found in one of Doritos most common products – Nacho Cheese. Directly from the Frito Lay website:
- Nacho Cheese Doritos ingredients (US), in order of percent of product: whole corn, vegetable oil (corn, soybean, and/or sunflower oil), salt, cheddar cheese (milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), maltodextrin, wheat flour, whey, monosodium glutamate, buttermilk solids, romano cheese (part skim cow’s milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes),whey protein concentrate, onion powder, partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oil, corn flour, disodium phosphate, lactose, natural and artificial flavor, dextrose, tomato powder, spices, lactic acid, artificial color (including Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Red 40), citric acid, sugar, garlic powder, red and green bell pepper powder, sodium caseinate, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, nonfat milk solids, whey protein isolate, corn syrup solids.
I have highlighted all the questionable ingredients, which I will go over in this post. Keep in mind, though, this is not the only company releasing these kinds of dangerous chips to the unbeknownst consumer. Like other commercialized products, this company doesn’t show this information to consumers, unless they view the ingredients. That’s why it is so important to look at the ingredients list and label on anything you decide on consuming.
Whole Corn - This is an entire article on its own. But, just to cover this briefly, the modern-day corn that we eat is generally considered Genetically Modified or GMO. There is a lot of debate on GMOs ranging from carcinogenic/mutagenic effects to triggering allergies in people. Regardless of the debate, the bottom line about GMOs is that there are genes in the fruits and vegetables that could never possibly arrive there without human intervention. This differs from gene crossing because in gene crossing, though is considered GMO, there can never exist genes outside a breedable species. Only species with the same genus and species can breed, typically. There are a few natural exceptions to this, but for the most part they would not be able to produce offspring. The GMOs in question are those that humans manually insert genes into a species that could never have gotten there naturally, no matter how many genetic crosses were performed.
Maltodextrin – This isn’t really a big deal, but those who have Celiac disease, or gluten intolerance, may be susceptible to some adverse side effects after consuming this ingredient. Furthermore, this sugar is also derived from corn, which may contain GMOs. That is the only real danger that should be noted on this ingredient.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) – E621 – This is a pervasive additive that is in many snack foods and even still used in many restaurants to improve flavor of their foods. It is a chemical additive that has been used for a about 100 years in foods. But, does that warrant it’s pervasiveness in our snack foods? Sure it contributes to that familiar Umami taste, or savory. That indescribable taste you get from certain delicious foods that just make your mouth water. It’s inexplicable. But it’s dangerous. Enter the FDA, again. Seems like every single chemical that provide no nutritional benefits, are reviewed by the FDA and deemed “safe” for human consumption. According to the Mayo clinic website, MSG may have been associated, anecdotally, with headaches, flushing, sweating, facial pressure, numbness or tingling of face, neck or other areas, heart palpitations, chest pain, nausea and overall weakness. There has, however, been any conclusive tests that recreate these effects. Let’s look at the facts here, no studies no associations. What is glutamate? Glutamate is an important neurotransmitter that functions in almost all aspects of brain activity. Glutamic acid is an essential amino acid and is used in the brain for learning and memory. It is excitatory, meaning it stimulates receptors. This means that MSG can excite your cells to a damaging level and perhaps even triggering some of the most common neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s. The FDA, itself, states that malfunctioning glutamate receptors (those that may have been overstimulated) linked with certain neurological disorders:
“Abnormal function of glutamate receptors has been linked with certain neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s chorea. Injections of glutamate in laboratory animals have resulted in damage to nerve cells in the brain.”
Indeed, there may be even further evidence in those who are exceptionally sensitive to MSG. Nobody knows exactly why people may be sensitive,e but it can be linked to allergies. According to TruthinLabeling.org there may be up to 40% of people who are sensitive to this substance. Like allergies, this has grown steadily over the years.
Partially Hydrogenated Oil - Don’t you love it? Companies don’t have to report how much trans fat is in a product if it under the .5g threshold. Therefore as long as the company keeps the level of trans fat at a minimum, they can include statements like “0g trans fats!” on their product labels. Look at this blatant statement by the FDA that helps lie to consumers.
“…FDA has granted enforcement discretion to some firms to use old label stock that do not declaretrans fat after the effective date of January 1, 2006. In these cases, food firms followed the required process described in FDA’s Guidance for Industry and FDA: Requesting an Extension to Use Existing Label Stock after the Trans Fat Labeling Effective Date of January 1, 2006 (Revised).” For each request, FDA is considering whether the declared label value for trans fat is 0.5 g or less per serving. This information is important because lower amounts of trans fat would have less impact on public health than higher amounts of trans fat. Thus, trans fat information in the Nutrition Facts panel will be missing on some products (that contain lower amounts of trans fat) throughout the next year.”
Ok, if they decide to include any amount of Partially Hydrogenated soybean, corn or vegetable oil then they contain some level of trans fats, despite them saying otherwise.A bit of chemistry and explanation on this matter. Why is trans fat called trans fat? Does it mean transition fat? Not really, let’s get a bit nerdy here. Trans fat refers to the orientation of the hydrogen atoms surrounding the carbon atoms as shown. Notice how there is still a double bond in trans fat, but because it’s saturated (with hydrogen) the kink in the chain is lost. DO you ever wonder why oils are liquid at room temperature and solid fats are well solid at room temperature? It has to do with the double bond on the carbon that causes the chain to kink. Compared to the straight chained hydrogenated oils and saturated fats. When the chain kinks, it cannot stack and become more dense so it stays a liquid unless it gets cooled and its molecules get closer together. The straight chain hydrocarbons can “stack” on top of each other and compact causing a higher density. Hence why butter and other saturated oils are solid at room temperature. If you cool the liquid kinked oil, it will slowly become solid. However, the kinks in the chain prevent the oils from solidifying at room temperature. The saturated and hydrogenated oils that lack the kink can and will build up on your arterial walls causing a build up of plaque. This can cause coronary heart disease among a host of other illnesses.
A bit of chemistry and explanation on this matter. Why is trans fat called trans fat? Does it mean transition fat? Not really, let’s get a bit nerdy here. Trans fat refers to the orientation of the hydrogen atoms surrounding the carbon atoms as shown on the animation to the left. Notice how there is still a double bond in trans fat as there is one in cis-fat or liquid fat. DO you ever wonder why oils are liquid at room temperature and solid fats are well solid at room temperature? It has to do with the double bond on the carbon that causes the chain to kink. Compared to the straight chained hydrogenated oils and saturated fats. When the chain kinks, it cannot stack and become more dense so it stays a liquid unless it gets cooled and
its molecules get closer together.
The processing of these oils contribute to the health effects as they literally undergo a chemical change. According to NaturalNews.com the blood literally thickens up from the thicker hydrogenated oils, which leads to higher blood pressure as the heart needs to pump harder and harder to maintain the same flow rate. Indeed, the nickel processing can also cause damage to the arterial walls in addition to plaque. the liver then produces cholesterol to mitigate this damage and help heal–leading to increased cholesterol. The bottom line, the entire hydrogenation process, from heating to the catalyzing wreaks havoc on your body. These molecules are very good preservatives, hence making the shelf life of Doritos that much longer. Imagine how hard your body has to work to break this food down!
In addition to the possible negative effects on cardiac tissue, these oils can also cause neurological damage. According to Dr. Axe, these oils have the potential to degrade the myelin sheath around your neurons causing a host of negative neurological diseases. This includes multiple sclerosis, memory problems, slurred speech, memory issues, nervousness, incontinence, numbness of extremities, difficult writing and/or shaking. Imagine, oils causing neurological issues.
Disodium phosphate - This is an industrial chemical used as a corrosion inhibitor. In food, it helps decrease cooking time and prevent caking. According to LiveStrong, Disodium Phosphate can irritate the respiratory tract. It is mainly an irritant, but this is most likely before cooking and in pure powdered form. It can, however, affect the blood chemistry by sequestering the calcium in the body. This can lead to slight calcium deficiency in people who are more sensitive or have low levels of calcium may have issues with his chemical. For the most part, however, it is not very dangerous.
Lactose - Lactose is a sugar commonly found in milk and milk products. The only reason I’m mentioning its danger is because it can be difficult for lactose intolerant individuals to digest this sugar. This is because lactose intolerant individuals lack the enzyme lactase, necessary for processing lactose. This can normally cause bloating, cramps, discomfort, diarrhea, nausea, flatulence or vomiting.
Not a huge issue here, but it is still worth mentioning.
Natural flavoring - I went over this in an earlier article, but this is essentially mystery ingredients. This can be anything.
Artificial flavoring - Oddly enough, artificial flavoring can be safer than natural flavoring. This is because artificial flavoring has to undergo high levels of standardization and purity. These standards are usually higher than that of natural flavors, but they are for the most part the same thing as natural flavors. They are just lab created and therefore not “natural”.
Lactic acid - This is a milk additive that is just caustic. Not really dangerous to consume. Got you this time!
Artificial color - (including Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Red 40) - Oh boy, here we go. This is one of the largest categories of artificial ingredients used and approved by our beloved FDA. Fortunately for you, it must be listed on the ingredients. Let’s start with the general purpose of colors. Do you really care what color your food looks like? I mean really? Do you care if it is more “orange”? Does that make it more palatable? Whatever, even if you say it does, it doesn’t matter because the food tastes the same. In fact, it still looks like this when it comes out:
You know what I’m talking about! Nonetheless colors are purely for your eyes and have nothing to do with the nutrition of the product. On to the artificial colors.
- Yellow #5 - also known as the big scary name of Tartrazine. Nice molecule bro! This rich yellow color produces that beautiful chip that you see in the Cheesy Doritos. Now there has been a lot of controversy surrounding artificial colors lately. Everything from lowering sperm count to creating new allergies, it seems these coloring agents cause a lot of problems in all aspects of injestion. This particular coloring agent has shown intolerance with asthmatics and those who are intolerant to the NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflamitory drug) Aspirin. The symptoms to exposure include migraine, anxiety, depression, blurred vision, itching, weakness, heat waves, shortness of breath, and sleep disturbance. Odd right? Even weirder, effects can persist and manifest up to 72 hours. Indeed, in children this has also been linked to asthma, hives, thyroid complications, chromosomal (DNA, bro) damage and ADHD symptoms. Hmm no wonder so many ADHD diagnosis is on the rise! In fact a 1994 study from the University of Melbourne in Australia in the Journal of Pediatrics suggest that children may exhibit an increase in irritability, restlessness and sleep disturbance. Give the more Mt. Dew! But wait, our faithful friend the FDA has finally admitted that this chemical can cause adverse reactions in certain individuals: hives. But, no biggie right? They state that it happens in about .01% of people. All this for a color additive! You betcha! It’s more important to look good, than to actually be good. Funny how Doritos are loaded with stuff that exacerbate children’s symptoms, yet it is primarily marketed towards children and teenagers. It’s fine, we can just prescribe them some Adderall to mitigate the Doritos and then wash it down with some Diet Coke.
- Yellow #6 - Orange Yellow S or E110 – Here’s a fun one. Sunset Yellow, or Yellow #6 is a sulfonated version of Sudan I, a potential carcinogen. Sudan I persists as an impurity in the final product. It is a known rodent carcinogen and has high levels of toxicity in mammals. But, we are not talking about Sudan I, we are talking about Yellow #6. It may be responsible for causing an allergic reaction and hyperactivity in children, similar to Yellow #5. As a result, there have been calls to withdraw or limit its use in food. But, it’s still in the crap you eat! Enjoy! Oh and I think it’s worth mentioning that several countries have already banned its use because of the purported health effects.
- Red #40 - Allura Red – This falls into a similar category of the above dyes that have been already mentioned. It has been noted to cause hyperactivity in children and has been banned in 6 European countries to date. Along with the others, the FDA still persists that it is safe to use, even though many countries in Europe have banned artificial colors all together because of the potential health dangers associated with them.
Sodium caseinate - This is basically the Casein protein found in milk in freebase form. In other words, its a way to make the protein available as a salt. Some of the uses include industrial applications like glue and paint manufacturing. Indeed it is also heavily used in the cheese industry. There are controversies surrounding Casein protein as well. I’m not going into the studies that had poor controls, but one of the largest problems with casein is that it may be correlated with an increased cancer risk. According to the Austrialian Dairy Counil Casein, which comprises about 80% of the protein found in milk, has been linked to cancer and has mutagentic effects. In other words, casein may cause cancer.
Disodium inosinate - Like MSG, this is also a flavor enhancer and provides that delicious, irresistible umami flavor you find in many products. There have been instances that this may cause anxiety attacks or a sudden rapid heart rate. Because there really isn’t a lot of information out there on this chemical, it is hard to pinpoint exactly any problems that may arise from it. This one is a chemical that more research should focus on. Judging by other flavor enhancers, this chemical doesn’t look too good. Do you want to eat a research chemical?
Disodium guanylate - E627 - This is a salt of yet another flavor enhancer that serves a similar function to that of MSG. It has been noted that this product is not safe for babies under 12 weeks and should be avoid by people with asthma, and gout. Again, there really isn’t a whole lot of data on this flavor enhancer, but based on the fact that it is often coupled with MSG, this food should also be avoided. It can be dangerous. We simply don’t know!
Corn syrup solids - This is essentially the same thing as High Fructose Corn Syrup and has already been covered on a previous article.