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The Doctors Investigate: What's Really in Your Food?

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It's been four years since Food Inc. exposed America's food industry and showed how food suppliers put profit ahead of the health of the consumer. Even though there is more of an awareness, Americans are still being served harmful foods including burgers made out of pink slime, chicken 'marinated' in chlorine and injected with salt water with sodium content equivalent to a serving of fries, artificial flavoring in ice cream that is otherwise used in lice killer and carcinogens in bread commonly found on the kitchen table-- all of which are government sanctioned ingredients.

On Monday, February 27, the hosts of the Emmy Award-winning syndicated talk show The Doctors, along with special guest and celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito, will take a closer look at American food staples and examines the harmful additives and processes used to prepare them. Here are some of the highlights from the show:

Burgers: Would you eat a burger made out of 'pink slime' the name given to the mechanically separated meat that's treated with ammonia hydroxide to kill bacteria like E-coli? McDonald's, Taco Bell and Burger King, once purveyors of pink slime, say they have discontinued their use of this meat, made from discarded beef (i.e. everything else from the cow that had been deemed inedible), but who still does? Schools serve it up daily in kids' lunches.

Chicken: To disinfect and cool chicken post slaughter, chickens are often soaked in a chlorine bath with a water-to-chlorine ratio up to 50 times more potent than the local swimming pool. Then, to help hide the chlorine taste, the chickens are "plumped'" with salt water, making the chickens larger in both weight and price. Plus, via a scientific experiment, The Doctors determined that chlorine baths may not even rid chicken of the bacteria the chlorine bath is supposed to prevent.

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Ice Cream: One billion gallons of ice cream are consumed by Americans every year. The most popular flavor? Vanilla. Real vanilla beans are expensive, so to save money, many ice cream makers use a synthetic flavoring called piperonal which is also an ingredient in lice killer.

Bread: Many breads are made with potassium bromate, which has been banned in Canada and the UK and has been named a carcinogen by the EPA, but has been approved by the FDA. Plus, azodicarbonamide, found in many manufactured donuts and hamburger buns - as well as plastics, rubber and foam - has been found to aggravate asthma symptoms and contribute respiratory problems in humans.

To avoid these harmful foods you can:

  • Read the fine print on labels!
  • Look for fewer ingredients with words you can pronounce.
  • Avoid artificial flavors as much as possible.
  • Avoid artificial dyes, especially Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 5 & 6.
  • Limit processed foods.

While it's not economical for everyone to buy organic all the time, it's worth spending a few extra dollars on organic poultry and beef. Here are some tips on how to buy organic meats.

  • To save money, purchase the whole chicken. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are the most expensive by the pound.
  • Check the 'sell by' dates, and plan to shop the day before when your butcher is likely to mark down the poultry and meat.
  • Consider buying direct from a farmer's market.
  • Check the sodium levels on fresh and frozen chicken packaging.
  • A truly natural chicken breast has 50 to 75 mg. of sodium. If there's more than that, the bird has been "plumped."

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