Getting to know Propylene Glycol

I was in the kitchen at work yesterday and they very generously provide us with snacks and drinks every day. So, when I'm bored and waiting for my food to heat up, I read the labels on the snacks. Other than Dole fruit in the can, I've never had success in being able to have the snacks. One of the major problems is Propylene Glycol! Never heard of it? Theater smoke is 100% Propylene Glycol. You know, the smoke that billows out on stage? Or you could just read the labels on your shampoo, soap, mouth wash, freshly baked grocery store sweets, your anti-freeze and a billion other things.  It's a chemical that companies use to dissolve other substances into. It helps items resist temperature and last longer. Ultimately, it saves money for the companies that are producing different items. Sorry, Entenmann's, I'm calling you out. I grew up eating your chocolate donuts with the little chocolate chunks and powdered sugar on them, but we're breaking up now. I'm not even going to ask about the soybean oil listed as an ingredient, because I bet that it's from Monsanto's genetically modified soybeans. That's a whole other blog post, though.

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Here's an excerpt from the Propylene Glycol Wikipedia page:

"Prolonged contact with propylene glycol is essentially non-irritating to the skin. Undiluted propylene glycol is minimally irritating to the eye, and can produce slight transient conjunctivitis (the eye recovers after the exposure is removed). Exposure to mists may cause eye irritation, as well as upper respiratory tract irritation. Inhalation of the propylene glycol vapors appears to present no significant hazard in ordinary applications. However, limited human experience indicates that inhalation of propylene glycol mists could be irritating to some individuals. Some research has suggested that propylene glycol not be used in applications where inhalation exposure or human eye contact with the spray mists of these materials is likely, such as fogs for theatrical productions or antifreeze solutions for emergency eye wash stations."

I'm sorry, but I've baked a zillion items by this point in my life and I never have to run out to the store to get some Propylene Glycol. And I'd be horrified if I actually had to watch myself pour some of it in my mixing bowl. The bottom line is that it's a chemical that we don't need. Prolonged exposure to unnecessary chemicals can create allergies. And god knows what else. Best thing to do? Stay away from it. I'm even beginning to see organic shampoo products highlighting on their bottles that they're "PG FREE". It may seem difficult to avoid at first, but it's worth it!

The solution? Bake your own stuff at home! Besides, it's fun and good for the soul ;-)

Posted on May 11, 2012 and filed under Food.