What’s In It? Kraft Stove Top Stuffing


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Keeping in the Thanksgiving mode from last week, we’ll be looking at Kraft Stove Top Stuffing this week! Long ingredients list, so here they are!

Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), not to be confused with Whole Grains. It’s not whole grains. It’s processed and refined. I might have to do a separate post on this ingredient since it has so many ingredients of its own! The “enriched” part is the added vitamins that are the last three ingredients.

Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oils are oils that are cheaply produced to replace butter. “Partial hydrogenation” is a phrase that should make alarms go off. These are trans fats! A half cup serving of the stuffing has 2 grams of saturate/trans fat. According to trans fat’s very own Wiki page, because it’s not an essential fatty acid, it increases the risk of coronary heart disease. Scary stuff! And let’s face it, few people eat a half cup of stuffing on Thanksgiving!

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HCFS) “comprises any of a group of corn syrups that has undergone enzymatic processing to convert some of its glucose into fructose to produce a desired sweetness.” (Wikipedia) This is a controversial ingredient, first introduced in 1957, has either the same effects as table sugar or is going to kill you and make you really fat, depending upon who you ask. One study found that consumption of HFCS contributes to obesity and diabetes (1), while another (apparently funded by the Corn Refiners’ Association), there is no correlation to obesity or diabetes.

(Other What’s In It? Wednesday posts that contain HFCS: Candy Corn, Canned Cranberry Sauce)

Salt is added to this product resulting in 426 mg of sodium per 1/2-cup serving. According to the American Heart Association, healthy people should try to keep their sodium under 1,500 mg a day. One cup of stuffing and you’re 2/3 of the way there.

Cooked Chicken and Chicken Broth. This is kind of vague. How is the chicken cooked? Does the broth have added salt? Was there any added fat involved in the cooking of either of these? Where did they get the chickens? How were they treated? Huge unknowns. If I ate meat, I wouldn’t feel too comfortable eating this not knowing where the chickens came from.

Hydrolyzed Soy and Corn Protein are used for emulsification and texturizing. You can read more about them here. We know that anything that contains these ingredients likely contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs) due to most corn and soybeans being genetically modified. Sometime soon, I’ll be doing a post about GMOs in the near future. Believe it or not, Candy Corn also includes this ingredient.

Yeast, according to dictionary.com is any of various small, single-celled fungi of the phylum Ascomycota that reproduce by fission or budding, the daughter cells often remaining attached, and that are capable of fermenting carbohydrates into alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Celery (Dried). Pretty much what it is. Not sure how they dry it, but it seems to have no extra ingredients. Celery is one of the dirty dozen veggies that should always be purchased organic. Doubting that Kraft makes this with organic celery.

Onion (Dried). Same as above, but these are not something you need to purchase organic.

Soy Flour. Ah, soy GMOs how do I love thee? Let me count the ways that GMOs are present. In the soy protein, the soy flour, the corn syrup, and hidden elsewhere. Sounds just like the Bard! The one good thing I was able to find about soy flour is that it seems to just be ground up soy beans, so no processing, but still possibility of GMOs.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer that can cause headaches, allergic reactions and an increase in asthma symptoms in some people (Wiki). Good news! You can eat MSG on a gluten-free diet! Woohoo!

Parsley (Dried). Same as onions.

Whey (From Milk). There is a good chance that the milk from which the whey was extracted was from rbGH cows. Whey is a byproduct in the cheese-making process. Read more about this hormone that is given to cows in order to increase milk production in my Dannon yogurt post. (Incidentally, though I couldn’t find any evidence of it online, I was assured by a Dannon CSR that they do not use rbGH-treated cow’s milk in their yogurt as of this year.)

Corn Syrup (Dried). Yay, this is in Candy Corn too! Go check it out if you haven’t already. Kind of disturbing that stuffing would have so many ingredients in common with Candy Corn. Is it just me? No clue how they dry it. This is like high-fructose corn syrup only less fructose-y.

Spice. No idea what this means. Could mean natural spices, could mean something else. Trixsy!

Sugar. More more more sugar!! Not enough sugar!! I love my stuffing super sweet like cotton candy! Yum!

Caramel Color. Finally! An ingredient that is also in Diet Coke! The FDA has approved this, but it can be dangerous for people who have corn or milk allergies since caramel color can be derived from these items.

Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family.

Disodium Guanylate. According to Wiki, this is derived from fish, so vegans are not able to eat anything with this in it. Also, “it is not safe for babies under twelve weeks, and should generally be avoided by asthmatics and people with gout. However, the typical amounts found in food are generally too low to produce significant side effects.” Finally, this is one of those hidden ingredients. Sometimes it will be listed without the MSG, but generally they are in foods together. If you’re trying to avoid MSG, you want to avoid disodium guanylate as well.

Disodium Inosinate is another one that is usually used in combination with MSG. If this is listed and MSG is not, there is probably MSG in the food.

Sulfites (Preservative). I am personally unable to eat anything made with sulfites, but strangely enough I can drink red wine, which also contains sulfites. Asthmatics often have a reaction to foods with sulfites. For instance, if I eat dried apricots made with sulfites, I have an instant very hot asthma attack. Good to know if you’re an asthmatic.

Corn Oil is made from the germ of the corn. It probably contains GMOs since it’s made from corn.

Bha and Bht as Preservatives are antioxidants that help “defoam yeast” and “prevents oxidative rancidity of fats.” Uh, ew. Check out this About.com post about these ingredients. Quite a long list of articles about these additives. They may cause health issues.

Natural Flavor. See my Diet Coke post for a long discussion about these, but the long and short of it is that the way you and I think of “natural” and the way the FDA and food processors do? Two different things.

That’s a total of 30 or so ingredients for something you can make at home with some celery, bread and chicken broth, among a few other ingredients. Pretty disturbing.

What every day foods are you interested in learning about? I take suggestions! See you next week!

Next week, I will list some alternative recipes in the Healthy Bloggers’ Thanksgiving in collaboration with eight other fitness and nutrition bloggers to share healthier recipes with you for a traditional Thanksgiving! It’s going to be fun!

Comments

  1. Ugh. But despite all that I would still eat it. Just saying.

  2. I know, Karen. I did one on Diet Coke, which was very disturbing, but I’ve had Diet Cokes since then. Go figure.

  3. I’m loving this new “What’s in it” series! Thanks for the great pick :) As much as I LOVE stuffing – and trust me, I could easily eat my weight in that stuff – it’s shocking to really read the label and break it down!

    • Yeah it’s pretty crazy. With many highly processed foods like this, it’s hard to really know what you’re eating at all!!

      I’m wondering if there are better packaged stuffings. I should look that up so that if people aren’t ready to make their own, they can at least use something that’s not this gross.

  4. This is awesome, Greta. I love your WIIW’s.

    Also, with Thanksgiving coming up, a good thing to think about is how even the big bags of no-name plain dried bread cubes often contain killer quantities of sodium, preservatives, and additives. So families that purchase the bread cubes end up with a lot of the same things as you’ve found in the Stove Top stuffing mix.

    I make my stuffing from day-old bakery bread (I live near a few bakeries, so it’s easy to get). But for people who like the convenience of bread cubes and stuffing mix, luckily, there are now some low-sodium and more natural options out there; we all just need to keep reading those labels!

  5. Oh my… Another reminder to sharpen my knives & avoid the ‘boxes’. I’m not surprised at all by this! I’ve been paying attention to the sodium lately, and it is scary. I was going off the 2500 mg guideline (not sure where I saw that) – but I can say that 1500 would be almost impossible if you’re eating anything from a package. Sigh….

    Great series Greta!

  6. So appalling to actually confront those ingredients! Stuffing is the hardest thing for me to find a satisfying, healthy replacement for — but this will give me even more incentive to find a way!

  7. This was a really helpful blog. I had a severe reaction to something dairy in Stove Top Stuffing (Canadian version), and the ingredient list didn’t show any dairy products. I see from your blog there was dairy – whey. That darn list was very short and didn’t mention half of what you said. I’ve been sick for almost two days.

  8. BHA, BHT and MSG…bad stuff! As an example, BHT is a petro-chemical (derived from petroleum: crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid). It also serves as an ingredient in non-edible products such as cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, jet fuels, rubber, petroleum products, electrical transformer oil, and embalming fluid. Research shows that BHT is a huge offender for those with allergies. BHT is found in many products. Check those labels!

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  2. […] requires effort but the reward comes in knowing exactly what you’re feeding your loved ones. Read the ingredients on a box of Stovetop Stuffing some time. Is that really the sort of thing you want to feed to people you care […]