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Food additives that wreck the taste of food

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This isn't a rant against chemicals in my food. It's more about food additives (both natural and artificial) that taste so bad they render the food inedible or the beverage undrinkable.

Potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate are so bitter they burn my mouth. What the hell are these things and why are they in sodas, bottled tea drinks and some juice drinks? Can't they just leave them out? Trader Joe's sweet tea doesn't use these things and it tastes delicious. Why can't other bottled tea makers follow suit?

Guar gum. Yes, this is a natural substance, but it really doesn't taste very good. I go out of my way to find cream cheese that uses mostly locust bean gum instead.

Natural butter flavor. This gives a nasty, cloying caramel taste that ruins otherwise good boxed cookies.

Any others that ruin processed foods for you? (And no, I don't eat that many processed things, but sometimes, they're unavoidable!)

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    1. When they added fish oil to yogurt, my husband insisted it tasted fishy to him and quit eating it. I don't know if this counts, but the sodium injections they give to raw pork and chicken completely ruin the flavor and texture for me.

      1 Reply
      1. re: NonnieMuss

        I don't know if I've had yogurt with fish oil, but that doesn't sound good to me! And yes, I try to buy organic or local meats because of the texture of the mass-produced stuff.

      2. Feta cheese.

        I used to be able to buy passable chunks of feta at the local big chain. I'll be honest; I'd often choose the local vendors during Farm Market season instead.

        Perhaps my buying patterns hurt the big guys (difficult to believe that I alone was propping them up???) . Now all I see in the grocery store is "crumbled feta" with "who-knows-what" additives. These "crumbles" have a strange chalky taste.

        So yeah...bring back plain-old feta-style cheese in chunks without any crazy additives and I'll toss some $$$ your way.

        1 Reply
        1. re: pedalfaster

          Could it be natamycin? This is a mold retardant they add to lots of shredded or crumbled cheeses.

        2. Sounds like you have a very sensitive palate. One reason they use those additives is most people can't taste them much (or at all)... personally I avoid aspartame wherever possible, not out of chemical concerns but because I can't stand the taste! 'Sugar-free' sodas are almost universally undrinkable because they taste so cloyingly bitter to me. And I absolutely hate fennel/aniseed in any form.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Kajikit

            I'm the same way with artificial sweeteners. They taste so, so bad to me. There have been several times when I've bought a fruity drink that says "no sugar added" and it turns out to have an artificial sweetener. I love it when it's just bubbly water with a fruity aftertaste - there are several of those on the market with 0 calories, but unfortunately the ones with artificial sweeteners also have 0 calories and you have to read the label very carefully sometimes to spot it.

          2. Vanillin ruins the taste of sweets for me. Blecch! If you can't afford real vanilla, why not just leave it out?