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Check out the label on that sour cream container!!

  • h

The other day I bought a container of the store-brand regular sour cream of a major supermarket retailer in the west. When I got it home it looked awfully "soupy". That led me to read the label, I was shocked to see this list of ingredients:

cultured cream, grade A whey, modified food starch, sodium phosphate, sodium citrate, guar gum, carageenan, calcium sulface, potassium sorbate (preservative) and locust bean gum.

WHAT IS UP WITH THIS??? I went back to the supermarket and checkec out the labels of several competing brands, (all of them major brands for this area of the country) and every one, except one, listed these ingredients. Only one brand listed one ingredient, "cultured cream" or something like that.

Can anyone provide any addl info about this? Is this happening all over the country? I'm shocked and dismayed to find this going on. For me, the bottom line is, I'm going to be reading the labels much more carefully on ALL the products I buy--and maybe consider making my own dairy products.

I'm really disgusted at this.

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  1. Here in Chicago, "Dean's" sour cream has the following ingredients: Cultured skim milk, cream, nonfat milk, codium citrate, rennet.

    IMHO Dean's makes the best dairy products in the Chicago area( I really like their cottage cheese and the sour cream)...and possibly "Oberweis" would be up there too. I find some sour cream to be rather gelatinous...disgusting.

    1. All those "stabilizers" are garbage. What a shame!

      I just checked my Axelrod Sour Cream, which is my favorite "mainstream" sour cream (in Manhattan), and the ingredients are: cultured pasteurized milk, cream and nonfat milk, and enzyme.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Tom Steele

        I don't think I like anything but Break stones. I know I don't like Friendly sour cream I tried one other brand here in NY and its nice and thick. I only eat full fat. Very few things are tastier that are lower in fat. Example Philadelphia 1/3 less fat I like even better than regular Cream cheese but the fat free is disgusting. Greek total I like the 2 percent. Other than those few examples, I prefer full fat.

      2. The next time you are at the market check out the label on heavy cream. It is very difficult to find A natural product without additives like seaweed or other stabilizers.

        1. That is more likely with reduced fat sour cream, or reduced fat anything, btw.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Karl S.

            This is precisely the reason why I forego lo-fat or non fat products...all that junk in it!!


            1. re: hbgrrl

              Have you ever looked at the label on low fat mayo? At the store the other day I put the Hellman's next to the Hellman's Light. The list of ingredients on the Light stuff was ridiculous! I may want to cut calories, but not like that.

          2. On the west coast, Knudsen and Daisy brands don't contain additives. Daisy's ingredient is: Grade A cultured cream. Knudsen's contains: cultured pasteurized grade a cream, enzymes. The other brands contain things like guar gum and gelatin.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Nancy Berry

              Just discovered Daisy, purchased at Nob Hill in Salinas today. Beef stroganoff tonight's menu for my parents and I was kicking myself for not buying some smetana from one of SF's Russian delis. Ran to the nearest grocery store and was delighted to find something with no additives. Very clean and unadulterated taste. Apparently it's been in national distribution since spring of last year. I'm trying the "lite" next based on this rec.


              1. re: Melanie Wong

                If you think Daisy brand is additive free you are smoking something....and I will not say what....Most brands of sour cream on the market in the US contain fillers and modifiers and other thickeners...many products act as an "outlet" to sell milk/whey proteins....the nature of the game is not to provide "wholesome" and "natural" product to the consumer...money talks...you know what walks....
                On top of all this is the issue of some ingredients that do not have to be declared on the label because they are considered to be "production aids"....something you have to be thankfull for to your law makers....and lobby groups....

                1. re: Pollo

                  Daisy's labelling for the "regular' sour cream says "Ingredients: Grade A Cultured Cream. Contains Milk. Grade A. No Additives".

                  It does not list "grade A whey, modified food starch, sodium phosphate, sodium citrate, guar gum, carageenan, calcium sulface, potassium sorbate (preservative) and locust bean gum", noted by the original poster for the sour cream he purchased and indeed common in most brands.

                  What additives or "production aids" do you know to be in Daisy regular sour cream?


            2. I buy only Daisy or Breakstone's sour cream. They are the onlu adulterated brands in my area. Also get a look at the labling on heavy or whipping cream. The carton of Horizon Organic whipping cream has carageenan and sodium citrate and of course it has been ultra-pasturized. I have to buy it if I want cream, there is nothing else available. This is the stuff our local co-op carries too.

              9 Replies
              1. re: Candy

                Don't know where you live, but TJ's has heavy cream that is not ultrapasteurized. It doesn't come in a carton but rather in a plastic bottle. It whips up beautifully and tastes great. Of course, the shelf life isn't very long, but so what.

                1. re: Debbie W.

                  I love TJ's non-ultra pasteurized cream. Mine actually lasts a lot longer than the expiration date, too.

                  1. re: em

                    The TJ product contains additives, at least in CA.

                    1. re: JudiAU

                      Is it possible in this world with so many people needing to be fed to have absolutely no additives in them? I would, of course, prefer perfectly unadulterated and fresh food and try to seek it out when at all possible but is it realistic?
                      Also, many "natural" ingredients are not good for you or even toxic and some "chemicals" are harmless. I think we get caught up in junk science at times and believe that if something is labelled "natural" or "organic" that makes it okay.

                      What are your thoughts?

                      1. re: twodales

                        Two issues:

                        First, is it possible. Sure, it's possible. Is it cost effective/supply efficient to have no additives in any food product? Probably not. Is it better to have food with additives than no food at all? Of course. But not putting additives in sour cream in the US is not going to increase the food supply in other countries, so I don't think that argument is really applicable to this discussion. As I mentioned in another thread, the problem of feeding the world is more an economic problem (how can food be produced and distributed to people who need it at prices they can afford) rather than a supply problem.

                        Second, are additives harmful and is organic always less harmful. I believe most food additives are harmless healthwise -- certainly the stuff that goes into sour creams (gums, stabilizers, etc.) is. But it harms the quality. This is chowhound -- we're all about the quality. As a chowhound, I'd prefer to have as few additives as possible, because even when the additives are nutritionally harmless or even beneficial, it means that the manufacturer is using them to make up for the fact that corners have been cut in production, inferior ingredients are being used, or that the product is overly processed (such as with many cereals where they take the naturally occurring vitamins and fiber out, and then put some of them back in).

                        There was a discussion on Not About Food last week about whether organic is healthier. I personally don't believe there's a significant difference in the healthfulness to the consumer, but I do believe that organic farming practices are healthier for the environment and healthier for farm workers, so supporting organic farming has an indirect benefit to everyone.

                        1. re: twodales

                          I want tasty food.

                          In fact, I want the tastiest food I can possible have.

                          I am willing to shop more often and widely, to pay more money, and to take more time. I am willing to read labels and demand better products when suppliers fail me.

                          As a general rule that means that I don't want foods stuffed with unnecessary additives that reduce the tastiness of my food.

                          Tasty food is a fresh peach that was not sprayed with unnecessary chemicals. A tasty peach is not trucked in from South America.

                          A tasty chicken is one that wasn't raised in confined space that is so stressful it has to be debeaked so it won't kill the other chickens.

                          You think that chicken is going to taste good?

                          No, there is no point in eating that chicken.

                          Yes I buy local because I don't to waste petrochemicals and yes, I think in the long run organic produce is better for me and my family and especially the earth.

                          I eat an assortment of animals but I won't eat them if they subjected to torturous conditions during their brief life. I belong to Slow Food and post on Chowhound for all of these reasons.

                          TJ buys most of their products from big suppliers. They buy adulterated cream because that is what is being offered and what is wildly available. If they had enough pressure and interest, they would change suppliers or force them to modify the content. I have previously written them a letter asking them to change suppliers. Overall, TJ's cream is probably among the best of the big vendors. It certainly is preferable to most of the ultra-pasteurized.

                          But it isn't good cream. Good cream tastes entirely different, if performs differently in food, and it whips differently. In Los Angeles, the only good cream is produced by Strass or Organic Pastures.

                          Frankly, an argument that we should accept crummy food filled with pointless additives because there are a lot of people to feed is so ridiculous that I don't think it is worth discussing it.

                          I DO have a right to have an unadulterated product and so does everyone else. Obviously, we can't live in utopia but we can try for the best.

                          1. re: JudiAU

                            I would like to point out that I posed some questions to garner some responses. I was not taking a position on this. So far it seems that assumptions are being made about quality and taste and chemicals and additives. I don't know if these assumptions are stereotypes or if they are valid. Perhaps both. Why get aggressive about it? I am only asking questions. I am looking for proof. I like fresh food as much as the next person. Who would pick an agri-farmed peach over one from your own tree? Not many, however, I have also grown tasteless veggies in my own back yard so home-grown isn't always better.

                            I would also like to say that corrupt governments also have something to do with hunger and starvation in this world not just economics.

                    2. re: Debbie W.

                      Closest TJ's is an hour and a half away on the north side of Indianapolis. I'll have to see what they have the next time I am up that way. Our local co-op used to carry a heavy cream that was non-pasturized and I've seen the same brand in Chicago at Whole Foods, but it disappeared and when I asked about it they told me that I was wrong and they had never carried it. Liars.

                    3. re: Candy

                      I usually buy Daisy or Breakstone but I got the homebrand last time and I just looked at the label and yep, it's 'a blend of cream and milk' with all those additives in it. No wonder it doesn't taste as good!

                    4. Carrageenan is a natural food grade material obtained from red seaweeds so do you consider it a bad additive?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: twodales

                        The issue is that additives have no business in natural dairy products. Their use is always suspect and always results in an inferior product.

                        Cream that is ultra-pasteurized loses some of its whipping properties (and all of its flavor). Bad cream + additive = crummy cream that can whip.

                      2. Similarly, does anyone know of any regional or national "cream cheese" that doesn't have 3 or 4 various gums and stabilizers?


                        2 Replies
                        1. re: JugglerDave

                          That I can't help you with. Is that "creole cream cheese" ?

                          1. re: JugglerDave

                            I have recently discovered "Gina Marie Cream Cheese" at my local market in NorCal. It is wonderfully creamy, not at all gluey, and doesn't contain additives or stabilizers. Googled for info and believe it is made in Willows, CA by Sierra Nevada Cheese Co. I would happily eat a cheesecake made w/ this stuff...

                          2. when i was a kid, my dad used to tell me that you can make a fake version of almost any food using corn starch and vegetable oil. you can thank the likes of archers/daniel/midland for the manufactured aspect of modern american foods. and if you truly want a broken heart, go have some yogurt or cheese in europe. when you get back, you'll stand in front of a megahypersupermarket dairy case and weep.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: LorenB

                              “...if you truly want a broken heart, go have some yogurt or cheese in europe. when you get back, you'll stand in front of a megahypersupermarket dairy case and weep”.

                              Ain't that the truth.

                              1. re: LorenB

                                Your Dad was right...amen....$$$$ make the world go and go and go...

                              2. As another poster said, you can go with Knudsen's or Daisy for sour cream without the stabilizers, but if you want a real challenge, try to find cottage cheese without the gums or carageenan in a regular supermarket (or even most TJ's or Whole Foods'). It's impossible! There's Nancy's cottage cheese, but because it's cultured, I don't consider it to be standard cottage cheese.

                                1. I definitely find myself (1) shocked & dismayed, and (2) usually a bit anal retentive about ingredient labels. Not only am I on the lookout for preservatives, unnecessary chemicals, HFCS and various other nasties....but also for animal products that are usually disguised as something else (veggie gal here).

                                  I just picked up a favorite brand of natural peanut butter the other day. Ingredients? PEANUTS and SALT. Compare that to Skippy.

                                  1. Let's look at this from a slightly different perspective: that of food waste. A recent University of Arizona/USDA study estimated that, for the US, 14% of home puchased food is wasted; an amount valued at $43 billion a year. Another study has 25% of all food wasted (this includes foods lost between harvest and consumption and what markets are forced to toss out). For the UK, an estimated 1/3 of food grown for home consumption is wasted. The quantities of food wasted in the US and Europe could feed the world's hungry. The production of that same wasted food has high economic and environmental costs; and high costs in terms of landfills.

                                    What does this have to do with us? Consumers wanting good looking, preservative free, and "safe" foods have forced regulation to get very conservative sell- and consume-by dates. Food fears have added to the problem: much of the food wasted is thrown out unopened or uncooked. In a sense, preservatives are there to give your food longer life and increase the chance that you will consume it.

                                    I like and consume foods without preservatives. But I still feel guilty about a melon and some lettuce I let go bad last year (obviously, not that these could have had preservatives). In the end, buy your sour cream without preservatives; but be sure to consume it all. And remember those sell by dates are conservative.

                                    Many times CH posters asked if food x is stll OK after x time: be safe, but please don't toss stuff out too quickly!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. Another really really old thread comes back to life. Special bonus points for the fact that Sam Fujisaka is included in those who posted to it.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: johnb

                                        most foods we'd add a dollop of sour cream to, we now use organic Greek style yoghurt. the 2% stuff tastes quite rich, keeps well, and the only ingredients are milk and yoghurt cultures.