Canned Goods and Calcium Chloride

I think canning is a beautiful art.  The cabinates full of those beautiful glass jars and gold seals filled with colorful fruits, vegetables and preserves of all types, not to mention sauces.   I remember watching my mother can all throughout the year when I was a child.  Those days will filled with boiling water everywhere and the smells of fruit and vegetables cooking in the kitchen. In the spring; it was fruit, in the summer; vegetables and in the summer;  pumpkin, apple sauce and homemade ketchup.  What a treat!  Always having the fresh canned products of our garden ready on hand throughout the year.  The beautiful sound of the canning jar lids popping as they sealed on the counter from the water bath was like music in the house. 

I personally love canning, but like everything else in our modern society, it has gone to the shoulders of our domestic life in favor of prepackaged canned items found at warehouse prices that are just so low, sometimes they cannot be resisted.  I have fallen into this trap myself.  Looking at the grocery shelves and calculating the cost of my time, the jars, the preparation, and the canning.  It is easy to analyze pennies for the finacial balanceing of the household accounts and see that adding my labor to the oterh costs of jars and ingredients, that it seems justified to just buy that can.  But what am I really buying in that canned product.

I decided to really take a very close look.  Being a Biologist, I am an avid label reader.  So I decided to really exam a label from a popular organic product and really examine it.   First on the ingrdient label is Organic Tomatoes along with the organic tomatoe juice. That seems fine with me.  Sea Salt seems fine as a third ingredient. I probably would not add so much that it would be the third ingredient however.  Citric Acid is included next.  Citric Acid is a naturally occiring acid found in citrus fruits and used to create a solution that is not favorable for any bacteria growth that may cause spoilage, so that checks out. Organic Dried Onion is next on the list.  That may be okay, but fresh is better and that goes for the other dehydrated and or powdered vegetable items on the label.  Calcium Cholride is next on the list. 

Calcium Cloride is not something that I would put into my stewed tomatoes and it has been documented to cause some side effects. Calcium Chloride is an inorganic chemically derived salt.  It is used to a dough stabalizer in commerical bread products; a thickiner in packaged and canned sauces, a meat tenderizer in canned meat products and as firming agent for vegetables and fruit.  The FDA has classified this additive as safe and has only found that it is a hazard to workers when handeling the additive while processing prepackaged and canned foods commercially.  Calcium Cloride is associated with breathing probelms and respiratory related irritations that can also lead to shortness of breath, but it is safe to injest becasue it has been given a low toxicity rating.

However Calcium Cloride injestion can still lead to several health issues. This is due to a biochemical process called hydrolysis.  When Calciul Chloride comes in contact with water, the reaction creates excess heat as a byproduct.  Injestion can seriously irritate the moist linings of the mouth, throat, nostrils, lips, eyelids and ears. Injestion in a larger quntity can cause gastrointestinal upset, abdominal pain and vomiting.  Even though it is rare some individuals have reported such side effects when they injest any product that contains this additive.  Okay, so I dont think Calcium Chloride should be in my canned foods, organic or otherwise.  

Canning my own or buying fresh from a local farmer seems to be a much better idea.  Canning is becoming a lost art.  Canning has been used for hundreds of years.  It is a safe method to preserve items without refrigeration and without artificial preservatives or additives of any kind.