“I better cook the burgers for dinner,” I said to my wife.

From experience, I knew that mince meat and burgers should be consumed within 24 hours of purchase. That’s because they spoil rather quickly.

So I unwrapped them and had them sizzling merrily in the frying pan. I did think though that there was an odd smell about them. Then I glanced at the packaging. The expiry date was in ten days!

“That can’t be,” I whispered, knowing something was terribly wrong.

Then with a frown I stared at the ingredients. The list was a long one. Instead of just beef and nothing but beef, there were all kinds of additives, flavours and preservatives.

No wonder the burgers could be kept for ten days!

I had no idea what preservatives were used in the burgers but a search in wikipedia revealed:

Preservative food additives can be antimicrobial; which inhibit the growth of bacteria or fungi, including mold, or antioxidant; such as oxygen absorbers, which inhibit the oxidation of food constituents.

Common antimicrobial preservatives include calcium propionate, sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite, sulfites (sulfur dioxide, sodium bisulfite, potassium hydrogen sulfite, etc.) and disodium EDTA. Antioxidants include BHA and BHT. Other preservatives include formaldehyde (usually in solution), glutaraldehyde (kills insects), ethanol and methylchloroisothiazolinone.

It’s enough to put you off food for life!

Anyway, I bought the meat from the local supermarket. I was in a hurry and didn’t look at the ingredients list. My wife usually buys meat from the butchers where I don’t think preservatives are used (but you never know!)

Chemicals in our food today are a frightening health issue and has been linked to cancers and other illnesses. Is it then such a surprise that the incidence of cancer is rising so quickly?

The food industry has much to answer. Why load our precious food with chemicals? Yes, it does help the make more money and, yes, the food is cheaper to produce and may cost less.

But I’d much rather be healthy, then pay less for convenient food that’ll make me ill in the long term. You can’t buy your health.

We need to be vigilent with what we eat today. The consequences, over the long term, can be dire.

Anyway, I didn’t tell my family about preservatives. I guiltily served them those burgers (my mother did tell me not to waste food) but told myself (maybe wrongly) that we hardly ate food laced with chemicals.

They complained that the burgers tasted awful.

I’m still feeling rather guilty … I should have chucked the burgers in the bin!