What Exactly are Twizzlers Made Of?
Every day in movie theaters, living rooms, and at sporting events across the nation people are chowing down on Twizzlers. But what exactly are these rubbery, almost neon red-colored snacks made of?
Let me start by telling you what Twizzlers are not: they’re not a superfood, they’re definitely not a whole food, and it’s arguable whether they are really food at all. Some of the ingredients are genetically-modified, although Hershey claims to be moving toward a focus on ingredients that are fresh and local, recognizable, responsibly-sourced, and trustworthy. From a look at the list of ingredients in Hershey’s Strawberry Twizzlers, the company clearly hasn’t made progress with these particular snack foods. (Check out my earlier blog: Hershey Kisses to Be Free of Genetically-Modified Ingredients this Year). Here’s what you’ll find in Twizzlers:
corn syrup; enriched wheat flour (flour, niacin, ferrous sulfate, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, and folic acid); sugar; cornstarch; contains 2% or less of: palm oil; salt; artificial flavor ; mono and diglycerides; citric acid; potassium sorbate (preservative); artificial color ( red 40) ; mineral oil; soy lecithin; glycerin
Let’s explore some of these ingredients:
Corn syrup and cornstarch—The vast majority of corn used to make corn syrup and other foods is made from genetically-modified (GM) corn.
Enriched wheat flour– Author of the book Low Carb Recipes, Dana Carpender, once told me in a private interview: “Enriched flour products are typically grain products that have had all the fiber and some 35 or more nutrients removed and five added back in. Enriched-flour products are comparable to being robbed of all your clothes, money, shoes, and personal belongings while walking to the bus stop. Then, the thief gives you your shoes and a quarter for the bus and tells you that you’ve been ‘enriched’ by the experience. Not likely.” In the case of Twizzlers, there are exactly five nutrients added back to the nutritionally-inferior flour.
Sugar—Like corn products, sugar is commonly sourced from genetically-modified sugar beets.
Artificial flavor—According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG)—a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment—flavor mixtures usually contain emulsifiers, solvents and preservatives, which are classified as “incidental additives.” That means the manufacturer does NOT have to disclose their presence on food labels. When “Flavor” is added to food, it tends to be a mixture of 100 or more ingredients, including the toxin BHA. BHA stands for butylated hydroxyanisole and is a suspected carcinogens and hormone disruptor. The EWG also concludes on its website that “The companies that make flavoring mixtures are often the same ones that make the fragrance chemicals in perfumes and cosmetics.”
Mono and diglycerides—These ingredients are synthetically-created “stabilizers” that are usually made from vegetable oils but can also contain animal fat like pork.
Potassium sorbate– Potassium sorbate is both genotoxic and mutagenic. That means it damages genetic material and can cause mutations linked to disease, including cancer.
Artificial color (red 40)—A British study known as the Southampton study found a link between artificial dyes and hyperactivity in children. The Center for Science in the Public Interest wants the FDA to ban eight artificial food dyes, especially red 40, yellow 5 and yellow 6, which make up 90 percent of the food dyes in use.
Soy lecithin—Like sugar and corn, soy lecithin is typically made from genetically-modified soy.