allergies, supplements, medication and ingredient listing

Updated July 07
Recently I was fooled once again with the wording on the supplement jar: NO ADDED.

I took it to mean that there were none of the allergens I was allergic to because the label stated NO ADDED wheat, milk etc.

I was ill. I choked after swallowing the capsule. I choked so badly I could hardly breathe. My throat got tight and ached. Then I ached all over and shivered. I suddenly felt so cold and went to bed to get warm and then I felt my body burning. I was ill the following day.

So it was almost two days later and with a brain that could at last think that I was prompted to check the labelling on the supplement jar.

The list of ingredients seemed innocuous enough. But at the bottom of the jar were the words NO ADDED wheat, milk etc.

I got suspicious. I had been ill before when I had consumed a supplement with the words NO ADDED and a long list of what had not been added. For example the label said something like NO ADDED: wheat, soya, barley, milk, lactose, yeast, sugar or salt.

I looked at the actual ingredients again: Maltodextrin, cellulose, cellulase, freeze dried …

Then I conducted some research.

This is what I have discovered.

  • For certain uses food is prepared for manufacture by a process called spray dried or freeze-dried.
    If it is spray-dried a starch is used in the process. So tomatoes for example may be sprayed on to a starch which is generally corn but can be anything.
    I am struggling to discover if a starch or milk is used when food is freeze dried but I suspect that there is because for example I cannot eat frozen chips or oven chips or chips from the Fish and Chip shop but I can eat chips I make myself. If I eat bought chips, my throat gets so sore and it gets impossible to swallow and is very painful and then my stomach gets sore.

  • Maltodextrin always used to be made from corn but it can be made from wheat or any starch.
  • Cellulose can be made from terpene-free pine. Cellulose is found in all plants so are other plant fibres used instead of pine?
  • Cellulase sounds like cellulose but is made from soya or milk

Kettle chips are a very helpful company and if they use maltodextrin they will state which type of starch has been used to make the maltodextrin, ie maltodextrin from wheat.

One supplement company has at last told me quite categorically that if I am allergic to grains (actually I can eat rice) then I will find it impossible to buy a supplement without allergens in them.

These fillers and binders are not only put into supplements but also into oral medication as well.

While one might wonder why there is a need to use fillers and binders it is the wording of the ingredient’s label and the statements on the jar that upsets me the most.

Not many of us know for example the food source of a substance called povidone (an ingredient in the anadin tablets). I still don’t know despite extensive searches. But I don’t seem to suffer an adverse side-effects from the anadin tablets so hopefully it is from rock or fish or meat or vegetables and not grains. What is hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (E464)? It seems to be in a lot of medications but where does it come from?

I would like to see better labelling of our medications and supplements. While it is useful to have all the ingredients listed, it is more useful to have all foods used in the manufacture of the food from field to food laboratory to my mouth listed.

I would like to see labels written like this:
Ingredients: cellulase from soya or milk, maltodextrin from wheat, vitamin D from lanolin, vitamin C from strawberries, sorbitol from cherries, calcium from dolomite which is rock, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose from ….. what? This is language laypeople who are not laborotory technicians can understand. Not rocket science is it?

I think I am correct in saying that at the moment supplement and medication companies and pharmacies and the food industry in general are only required to state the ingredients in the supplement, medication or food. Which is why an ingredient’s list may read like this: maltodextrin, cellulose, potassium, magnesium and then have the words at the bottom: NO ADDED milk, wheat, soya.
However what they don’t have to say is what the cellulose is made from because they didn’t make it, they bought it in as cellulose. So they haven’t added milk despite perhaps the cellulose capsules they bought being made from fibres from wheat and with milk added.

Apart from avoiding grains and milk, these are the other foods I avoid because they make me ill:
Instant coffee – freeze dried
Ready cut chips – frozen
Most tomato products including tinned and tomato puree unless fresh tomatoes
Most crisps and potato chipped shaped crisps
Gluten free cakes and biscuits because I mistrust the labelling now
Gluten free cereals because I mistrust the labelling now
The bags that teas come in (they make me itch so much)
Most Supplements

Perhaps it could be argued that most people despite being allergic to grains could probably cope with a teeny weeny bit of maltodextrin made from wheat.

But those of us with an auto-immune disease are highly likely to suffer from the tiniest speck of allergen. Afterall it is completely accepted that hayfever sufferers suffer the effects of the smallest amount of pollen that can hardly be seen so why haven’t those who know about these things taken more care with their products?

I do think it is very irresponsible of the supplement, medication and the food industry not to care enough to make sure their labelling is absolutely clear for the sake of those with allergies.

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