Have you ever wondered how margarine is made? Here are nine steps to explain the industrial process of making margarine.
Oils are heated until they turn rancid.
Margarine makers start with second-grade vegetable oils from maize, soy, sunflower seeds and canola.
These oils are then heated under high pressure. The heat turns them rancid. Rancid oils are loaded with free radicals that react easily with other molecules, causing cell damage, premature aging and a host of other problems.
The last bit of oil is removed with hexane, a hydrocarbon with the chemical solvent known to cause cancer. Although this hexane is subsequently removed, traces of it are inevitably left behind.
Canola oil, which is widely touted as the healthiest oil of all, has problems as well. Consumption of canola has been linked to vitamin E deficiency as well as growth retardation. For this reason, canola oil is not allowed to be used in the manufacture of infant formula.
Most of the oils used for making margarine are genetically modified.
Steam cleaning destroys vitamins and antioxidants.
The raw oils for making margarine are steam cleaned. This destroys all the vitamins and antioxidants. However, the residues of pesticides and solvents, such as hexane, remain.
Oils are mixed with finely ground (and toxic) nickel.
Then the oils are mixed with finely ground nickel, a highly toxic substance that serves as a catalyst for the chemical reaction during the hydrogenation process. Other catalysts may be used, but these, too, are highly toxic.
Hydrogen gas is introduced.
The oils are then put under high temperature and pressure in a reactor. Hydrogen gas is introduced. The high temperature and pressure, together with the presence of the nickel catalyst, causes hydrogen atoms to be forced into the oil molecules. If the oil is partially hydrogenated, it turns from liquid into a semi-solid.
Emulsifiers – which are like soaps – are mixed in.
What comes out of the partial hydrogenation process is a smelly, lumpy, grey grease. To remove the lumps, emulsifiers – which are like soaps – are mixed in.
The oil is steam cleaned (again!) to remove the odour of chemicals.
This step is called deodorization and it again involves high temperature and high pressure.
The oil is then bleached to get rid of the grey colour to make it more visually appealing.
Synthetic vitamins and artificial flavours are mixed in.
A 'natural' yellow colour called annatto, is added to margarine. Annatto (Bixa orellana L.) is derived from the seed of the tropical Annatto tree. It is linked anecdotally to behaviour and learning problems, asthma, hyperactivity, urticaria and allergies.
Promotion as a health food.
Finally, the margarine is promoted to the public as a health food – with the full endorsement of many scientists, doctors, nutritionists and health authorities.
Eady, Julie. 2007.
Additive Alert: Your guide to safer shopping.
Additive Alert Pty Ltd,
Mullaloo WA 6037.
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