So its great that after all these years TIPTOP Icecream has finally made the switch to using only natural flavours and colours in their ice creams. It is the only Ice cream brand I will willingly eat - particularly their vanilla and french vanilla flavours which are the least problematic in terms of any kind of questionable ingredients. In general TIPTOP is definitely going in the right direction as far as making better products than their competitors so far as I have seen.
Its actually quite a big deal considering they are the only mainstream company in NZ to have made a conscious and bold effort to change their formulations to date that I can see - they began the transition in the middle of 2013 and made a full switch by the end of the year. There are the little niche companies using natural flavours/colours but their ice cream ranges are so expensive that the majority of people will not be buying them as their main "Ice cream" staple.
Anyway the point of this article is to mention that although they have switched to natural colours and flavours that doesn't automatically mean that they are suddenly now "really healthy" or good for you, so you can eat as much as you want without guilt ;-)!
They still have a lot of sugar in them, in liquid sugar form, and glucose among other forms...so should be used sparingly only as a treat once in a while. And I'm only talking about the proper ice-cream in tubs. The ice blocks and other straight fruit juice products or frozen yoghurt products that are all lower fat will have a higher sugar content. (The Jelly Tip Iceblocks seem to have the most from what I have seen)
So Tip Top have stopped using synthetic colours - that is a good thing considering harmful effects on human health that have been linked to synthetic azo dyes.
Azo Dye Article Link
However, one of the colours they have switched to using instead of the synthetic red colour could actually be unhealthy in itself.
"Until 2009, cochineal was one of many dyes that fell under the umbrella term "natural color" on ingredients lists. But because cochineal provokes severe allergic reactions in some people, the Food and Drug Administration requires carmine and cochineal extract to be explicitly identified in ingredients lists."
Carmine, or Cochineal extracted Red colour (E120) comes from the extract of crushed insects...yep you read right...BUG bodies. Yum. They are little bugs that feed on cactus type plants. When crushed and processed they produce a really brilliant red colour.
But apart from the fact that the colour comes from bugs, the WAY it is processed into a colour is what concerns me the most as it seems to involve toxic heavy metals.
"To prepare carmine, the powdered scale insect bodies are boiled in ammonia or a sodium carbonate solution, the insoluble matter is removed by filtering, and alum is added to the clear salt solution of carminic acid to precipitate the red aluminiumsalt, called "carmine lake" or "crimson lake." Purity of color is ensured by the absence of iron. Stannous chloride, citric acid, borax, or gelatin may be added to regulate the formation of the precipitate. For shades of purple, lime is added to the alum; thus, the traditional crimson color is guaranteed not only by carminic acid but also by choice of its chelating metal salt ion."
As you can read from the above quote about how Carmine is made, there is a significant amount of Aluminium going to be present in the final product.
I was researching to find out how much aluminium is in the product, as avoiding any Aluminium in food is a good idea, since it is at toxic metal that has many negative effects on health.
Unfortunately I have not been able to find any specific information about the total amount of aluminium that you would be exposed to from food containing E120 (Carmine/Cochineal) So that is something I would like to know if anyone has any information about it?
BUT I have been able to find some information from a food colour manufacturing company that shows the permitted levels of various other substances in Carmine which are also of concern.
"The specification under CFR 73.100 is as follows:
- Volatile Matter (135°C for three hours) - NMT 20%
- Ash - NMT 12%
- Lead (as Pb) - NMT 10 ppm
- Arsenic (as AS) - NMT 1 ppm
- Carminic Acid - NLT 50%
- Salmonella - None detected"
GREAT....so there is LEAD, ARSENIC as well as Aluminium that we need to be interested in.
So, concerning lead which, from this information appears to be in Carmine at a limit of no more than 10ppm (parts per million) - we can see that there could be a toxicity issue with lead in this "natural" food colour as well.
This amount of 10ppm is WAYY above the standard allowable levels for lead even in drinking water of 10-15ppb (parts per billion) around the world, which includes NZ at 10ppb!
BOY I would sure like to see some heavy metal testing done on food products that contain a lot of "natural food colours containing carmines to see what their overall lead levels are. Would be an eye opener I am sure.
All this to say....good on TipTop for moving in the right direction in terms of getting rid of synthetic food colours and synthetic flavours - but there is still further to go if they are wanting to promote themselves as being "ALL Natural" as if it is GOOD for us...it somehow smacks a bit of greenwashing that is going on across the board in the food industry - rather than making full on healthy changes they do just enough to get people to think they are going all healthy and can then consume their products guilt free.
Anyway that is my little rant about the Icecream. I got onto this topic because I wanted to buy my daughter ice-cream for her birthday and I stood for AGES in the Icecream aisle of the local Countdown reading labels. I didn't bother reading the labels of the other brands of icrecream because I have done that before and the article I could write about that would be WAYYY too long - the ingredients in all the other ice cream products (except the specialty ones that are all natural or organic) are very questionable with synthetic flavours, colours, preservatives and all kinds of things. Sigh. Not even real vanilla flavour in all the "Award winning" vanilla ice-cream products, such a disappointment.
I guess I should go and make it from scratch...which by the way is actually really easy and is very healthy. Fresh Cream, Milk, Eggs, Vanilla extract, fruit and thats about it.
We used to eat a lot of ice-cream, it was our guilty pleasure, but now I am not so sure...the more I research the less it seems appetising and I would rather eat my own creations.
The truth about Red Food Dye Made from Bugs.
(https://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/rma/nes-draft-sources-human-drinking-water/html/appendix-6.html) NZ Drinking Water Safety Limits - relating to Lead and other heavy metals and contaminants.
Drinking Water quality standards around the world.
Information concerning the production of Carmine from a Manufacturing company.
Aluminium in Foods - the nature and contribution of food additives.
Article about Synthetic Azo dyes and their consequences in food.
Information about what Carmine is and how it is made.
Information about Carmine and Aluminium content from an alternative company making healthy food dyes.
How to avoid aluminium in our food and environment.
HUMAN HEALTH RISK ASSESSMENT FOR ALUMINIUM, ALUMINIUM OXIDE, AND ALUMINIUM HYDROXIDE