During the recent outpouring of “eww, that’s gross” over pink slime, Americans had a collective freakout over ammonia-treated beef. But hey, why not expand the revulsion with this tasty tidbit: Foods including cheese, baked goods and chocolate products are also involved with ammonia.
Reuters says that since U.S. health officials cleared ammonia 40 years ago, it’s used in making a lot of foods we eat every day, whether as ammonia or in related compounds. To those who are involved in high-tech food production, using a little ammonia is old hat. But now that consumers are focusing on learning more about what they’re eating, ammonia is coming under fire.
“I think we’re seeing a sea change today in consumers’ concerns about the presence of ingredients in foods, and this is just one example,” Michael Doyle, director of the University of Georgia’s Center for Food Safety told Reuters.
The pink slime controversy erupted after food critics started a campaign to show consumers what was going into their ground beef, namely, meat trimmings treated with a spray of ammonium hydroxide to remove bacteria.
Turns out, ammonia compounds are used as leavening agents in baked goods, and to control acidity in cheese and even chocolate, which means it’s a totally normal additive, say its proponents. Besides, some of those ingredient names are so darned complicated, says Kraft spokeswoman Angela Wiggins. And, it’s just like booze, she adds.
“It is quite similar to adding wine to a sauce and cooking away the alcohol.”
Honey, please pass some ammonia — this tomato sauce needs a little extra something.