Monday, June 13, 2011

Hold the Mayo!

Bring out the best hidden source of allergens! For summer-time picnic fare, it seems difficult to steer clear of mayonnaise. It’s glorified as the miraculous ingredient that holds it all together. A basic mayonnaise recipe calls for eggs, egg yolks, olive oil, lemon juice, water, mustard, and salt. So it seems that the only obvious common allergen ingredients are the eggs and egg yolks.

Yet the label on a mayonnaise jar may read more like this:

or this:

The above images are screen captures (sorry for the quality) of label information from two manufacturers websites: one, a popular brand and the other, an organic artisan brand. Both are marketed as containing olive oil; which is not incorrect. At best, it is misleading as they also contains soybean oil. And since ingredients are listed from most to least abundant, there is more soybean than the olive oil. Unfortunately,  as a subsidized crop, soybean oil is very inexpensive so it helps keep costs low and profits high. Always carefully read labels to avoid hidden sources of food allergens or sensitivities.

For those sensitive to corn, not only is modified corn starch a listed ingredient, more than likely, both vinegar and xanthan gum are corn derivatives. And like soybeans, the majority of corn crops are genetically modified. If a product is not labeled as containing no GMO ingredients, you should assume that it does.

Natural flavors can also be a source of hidden allergens. These additives, by law (FDA:21CFR101.22), can contain substances that are fermented and will contain trace amounts of alcohol. They may include substances derived from any of the 8 common food allergens or food sensitivities, as well as be derived from animal matter. So vegans and vegetarians, be diligent. Since the FDA does not require labeling to be more specific than “natural flavor,” call the manufacture if in doubt. Typically they are willing to share this information.

Now, that being said, it is still possible to make a tasty potato salad while holding the mayo.

A mix of olive oil, lemon and mustard are a great substitute for egg-laden (and who knows what else) mayonnaise. Enjoy your picnic!

Find the Potato Salad recipe here. 

Eat well and be well,


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