Nutrition & Ingredients
In This Section

Nutrition & Ingredients

Ingredients of Concern

Minneapolis Public Schools Culinary and Wellness Services is dedicated to students' health, wellbeing and their ability to learn. As we shift our procurement to more healthful, regionally sourced, and sustainably produced foods, we continually analyze our products in order to determine any ingredients of concern per our Nutrition Parameters. Culinary and Wellness Services has established and tracks the following ingredients of concern:

Download the PDF

Ingredient What is it? Where is it found
in school foods?
Why is it a cause for concern?
Artificial Flavors Synthesized flavors added to impart tastes that are not a spice or whole food. Many processed foods. Indicates the absence of whole ingredients. Some people may be sensitive to certain flavoring ingredients, such as MSG, gluten, or hydrolyzed vegetable protein [HVP].
Artificial Colors/
Synthetic Food Dyes
Dyes, usually derived from coal tar, added to foods in order to make items look more appealing. Many processed foods. Names found on product labels include: Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Caramel Color, and Erythorsine. Some are known to cause allergic or hypersensitivity reactions which may be severe or life-threatening. There are also links with behavioral problems, and some pose a small risk of cancer.
Artificial Sweeteners Non-nutritive sweeteners added to foods. Low or no calorie food items, such as diet soda, no or low sugar baked items, yogurts. Also named: aspartame Neotame, Acesufame-K, Saccharin, Sucralose. May cause dizziness or headaches in some people. Animal studies indicate a link between aspartame and lymphomas. Not shown to reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
Azodicarbonamide (ADA) An additive used to strengthen dough. Pizza crusts, baked products. The use of ADA increases risk of being exposed to Semicarbazside, a byproduct that is a suspected carcinogen.
Benzoates Prevents the growth of microorganisms in acidic foods. Fruit juices, processed food products. Also named: Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Benzoate, Calcium Benzoate, Ethyl 4-hydroxbenzoate, Proply 4-hydroxybenzoate, Methy 4-hydroxybenzoate. May cause hyperactivity in children. Sodium benzoate can reacted with added Vitamin C to make Benzene, a cancer-causing substance.
Bleached Flour Bleaching process eliminates need for aging flour, producing better baking results. Breads, pizza crusts, crackers. Bleaching process creates a toxic byproduct (alloxan).
Bromated Flour Flour that contains Potassium Bromate, an oxidizing agent used to improve and strengthen dough. Breads, pizza crusts, crackers. Potassium Bromate is considered “possibly carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Butylated Hydoxyanisole
Antioxidant preservative Processed products, particularly meats, cereals and oils. Listed in the official US government “Report on Carcinogens” as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”.
Butylated Hydroxytoluene
Antioxidant preservative Processed products, particularly meats, cereals and oils. Linked to cancer in some animal studies.
Caramel Color Coloring that can be made by heating a sugar compound with or without an ammonium compound, acids, or alkalis. Used to make foods look more appealing. Baked goods, pre-cooked meats, soy sauces. Caramel color is regarded as a natural ingredient and is comes in class I-IV. When produced with ammonia, can contain contaminates (2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole) which have been found to cause cancer in mice. The WHO have concluded that these contaminates are “possibly carcinogenic to humans”
Carrageenan Polysaccharides that are extracted from edible red seaweeds. Used for their gelling, thickening and stabilizing properites. Salad dressings, Fruit Snacks, Non-Dairy milks, Fat Free Chocolate Milks. Reported to cause gastro intestinal problems in people, and inflammation in animal studies. Animal studies suggest tumor promotion or initiation.
EDTA Used as a food preservative, prevents foods from reacting to metals in canning water. Canned vegetables and meats, pickled foods. EDTA can cause abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, low blood pressure, skin problems, and fever in large amounts.
Guanosine Monophosphate
Used to enhance the meaty (umami) flavor of foods. Soups Sauces, Seasonings. Different forms are named: disodium guanylate, dipotassium guanylate, and calcium guanylate. Linked to hyperactivity in children and aggravating asthma symptoms.
Monosodium Glutamate
Used to enhance the meaty (umami) flavor of foods. Many processed foods, and as an ingredient in artificial flavorings. Large amounts have been shown to cause reactions in some people, including headache, nausea, weakness, and a burning sensation on the back of the neck and forearms. Some people report wheezing, changes in heart rate, and difficulty breathing, and reactions to small amounts.
High Fructose Corn Syrup Sweetener derived from corn. Common in many kinds of processed foods, not limited to sweets. Indicates added sugars.
Hormones/Antibiotics Encourages rapid growth of farm animals. Meats and animal products Increases exposure to unnecessary antibiotics and could increase antibiotic resistance in pathogens
Hydrogenated or Partially Hydrogenated Fats Oil made into a semi-solid shortening by reacting it with hydrogen. Contains trans fats. Some processed foods. Artificial trans fats are the most harmful fat (on a gram-for-gram basis) in the food supply. Trans fats are a potent cause of heart disease.
Nitrates and Nitrites Preservative, coloring, flavoring Many meat products, such as bacon, ham, frankfurters, and luncheon meats. Common names: Sodium nitrate, potassium nitrate, sodium nitrite, potassium nitrite. Can lead to the formation of small amounts of potent cancer-causing chemicals (nitrosamines), particularly in fried bacon. Several studies link consumption of cured meat and nitrite by children, pregnant women, and adults with various types of cancer.
Sorbates Preservative that prevents growth of mold. Cheese, syrups, jelly, cake, dry fruits. Associated with increasing asthma symptoms, irritable bowel symptoms, and behavior problems.
Sulfates and Sulfites Preservative that prevents discoloration. Dried Fruit, Processed Potatoes, Can cause reactions to asthmatics; people with sensitivities
Antioxidant preservative Processed products, particularly meats, cereals and oils. Suspected carcinogen.
Updated June 2018