I am pretty conscientious when it comes to reading food labels for two reasons: For one, I am allergic to a number of ingredients and second, if the print is so small, that I need a magnifying glass to read the list of ingredients, it goes straight back onto the store shelf.
For the most part, my style of cooking is a combination of healthy eating, recipes that are relatively simple but tasty and I am for shortcuts as long as it doesn't adversely impact the integrity of the finished dish.
If you happened to read my last post (Goat Cheese with Sun-Dried Tomatoes), you know that I love cheese. For a snack I enjoy a piece of toasted whole grain bread which I will pop back in the toaster oven with a slice or two of cheese for an easy open-face melted cheese sandwich. Another version I make is to toast a thinly sliced whole wheat bagel, then layer it with some sun-dried tomatoes and shredded mozzarella cheese. After the cheese has melted, I top it with some fresh basil chiffonade.
For convenience, I have been using prepackaged cheeses (both shredded and sliced). Awhile back I noticed an ingredient on packaged cheese that I was not familiar with but just shrugged it off: Natamycin and in some cases Microbial Enzymes, which they are both basically the same from what I can tell. They are added as a mold inhibitor, and I have not seen it on the ingredient list for block cheeses, cream cheese or most other cheeses.
Today I decided to pull out A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives by Ruth Winter, M.S., one of my many food books, to see what information she had on Natamycin: Natamycin - see Pimaricin ASP; Pimaricin ASP: moderately toxic by ingestion.
Information I found posted by the FDA (M-I-07-3 posted on 29 January 2007) states that: "In the case of natamycin, the substance is
approved as a food additive for use as an antimycotic on the surface of cheese
at levels up to 20 ppm, providing that if there is a standard of identity for
the cheese ... "
Having made this discovery, I do not plan on discarding any of the pre-sliced or shredded cheese I have on hand; however, in the future I will most likely purchase only block cheeses and then slice or shred my own. I'm sure I have enough other toxins in my diet that I don't know about !