What the Heck is THIS Doing in Your Salad Dressing?
Well, a few years ago I experienced just that on a cold winter morning while my family and I were sitting on an airplane waiting to undock from the terminal. The pilot came over the intercom and announced that the airplane had to undergo some de-icing as the wings had some light frost on them. We all pressed our noses to the window to watch (cuz frankly there’s not much else to do while you’re cramped in an airplane awaiting take off). The trucks came and a guy in an automatic ladder type apparatus sprayed down the wings with some colored liquid. One accidental glance at the truck and my mouth dropped. It said Propylene Glycol! THIS WAS THE VERY INGREDIENT THAT WAS IN MY FAVORITE SALAD DRESSING!
What is Propylene Glycol?
You ready for this? According to the CDC, Propylene glycol is a synthetic, colorless, odorless liquid substance that absorbs water. It is used to make polyester compounds, and as a base for deicing solutions. It is used by the chemical, food, and pharmaceutical industries.The FDA has classified propylene glycol as an additive that is “generally recognized as safe” for use in food.
Awww.. Doesn’t that make you feel like someone’s really looking out for your health? NOT! You Europeans don’t have to worry AS much, because your people in charge seem to have a slightly better grasp of reality. In the EU propylene glycol is limited to mostly non-food uses and when permitted it may only constitute 0.1-0.3% of a food product for human consumption (not perfect but better).
What’s it Used for?
Propylene glycol, like carrageenan is a multi faceted additive – it wears many hats. It is used:
- as a solvent and carrier of flavour or colour in drinks, biscuits, cakes, sweets
- as a thickener, clarifier and stabilizer in beer, salad dressings or baking mixtures
- to keep animal feed moist
- as a common diluent in injectable medications
- to manufacture plastics, resins, paints, aircraft de-icers, liquid detergents
- as a skin conditioning agent
- as a lubricant for condoms
- as a coolant and antifreeze
Does it Go By Any Other Name?
E-1520, 1,2-DIHYDROXYPROPANE; 1,2-PROPANEDIOL; 2-HYDROXYPROPANOL; METHYLETHYL GLYCOL; PROPANE-1,2-DIOL; 1,2-DIHYDROXYPROPANE; 1,2-PROPYLENE GLYCOL; 1,2-PROPYLENGLYKOL (GERMAN) ; ALPHA-PROPYLENEGLYCOL; DOWFROST; METHYLETHYLENE GLYCOL (source)
The FDA recognizes propylene glycol as ‘safe’ although it acknowledges that it has been known to cause nephrotoxicity (a poisonous effect on the kidneys) and renal failure in high doses. Children below 4 years of age, pregnant women and those with kidney dysfunction are particularly vulnerable as they cannot adequately eliminate propylene glycol from the body. This is demonstrated by a documented case of propylene glycol poisoning of an 8 month old who was being treated topically for 3rd degree burns. The product that was being applied contained high amounts of propylene glycol. Propylene glycol toxicity can also cause/affect:
- the cardiovascular system
- the central nervous system
- seizures and seizure disorders
Topically, propylene glycol is added to lotions and creams because it allows the products to penetrate deep within the skin, which of course raises concern that it can reach the bloodstream. According to the proprietary site propylene-glycol.com “when fed with propylene glycol containing feed, cats show an increase in Heinz body formation, which are deformities of erythrocytes and shorten the life time of the red blood cells. This effect is unique to cats.”
- shampoo, deodorant, antipersperant, skin care lotion, cosmetics, toothpaste, mouth wash, sunscreen, baby wipes
- room deodorizers
- leather conditioner and auto care products
- anti freeze and hydrualic fluid products
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So…the moral of the story? I venture to say that a minuscule amount of propylene glycol probably isn’t going to kill you, but I’m more concerned with cumulative effects and limited studies done on it considering its vast use. By eating real, whole food you can easily bypass this nastiness and any potential side effects.
I’ve also shared this post with these other wonderful bloggers: This Gal Cooks, Say Not Sweet Anne, Uncommon Designs, Huckleberry Love, Confessions of a Stay at Home Mom, Nourishing Treasures, Natural Living Mamma, What Joy is Mine, Flour me with Love, Homegrown and Healthy, Homemaker on a Dime, I Gotta Try That, Skip to my Lou, Our 4 Kiddos, Our Table for Seven, Mandy’s Recipe Box, An Oregon Cottage, Not Just a Housewife, A Humble Bumble, Kelly the Kitchen Kop, The NY Melrose Family, This Silly Girl’s Life, Tessa Domestic Diva, Gastronomical Sovereignty, Holistic Squid, Mama Buzz, Thank Your Body, My Cultured Palate, Domesblissity, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Recipes for my Boys, Live Laugh Rowe, Ann Kroeker, Food Renegade, Not Your Ordinary Recipes, All our Days, xoxo Rebecca, The Veggie Nook, Joy in my Kitchen