Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Saucy Plate: What's in Honey Mustard?

I was driving into work this morning and one of the local radio stations was asking people to call in with bloopers about things they've done in a restaurant. Had I called in, I would have shared the story of That One Time I Lit A Napkin On Fire. In an effort to get to the bread faster, I threw the fancy cloth napkin off of the bread basket and directly onto a candle. The waitress had to come over with her tray to beat the fire out.

As I was saying, people were calling in. One woman said she accidentally poured the honey mustard sauce meant for chicken fingers all over her child's mashed potatoes thinking it was melted butter. Whoops! This started me wondering - what is in packaged honey mustard sauce?

I didn't hear the name of the restaurant in question, but let's look at the sauces of two places nationally known for their chicken fingers/nuggets: Chick-fil-A and McDonald's.


Chick-fil-A Honey Mustard Sauce
water
honey
sugar
distilled vinegar
modified corn starch
mustard seed
salt
garlic
spices
soybean oil
turmeric
natural flavors
dehydrated onion
sodium benzoate (a preservative)
xanthan gum
guar gum
molasses
corn syrup
caramel color
tamarind

McDonald's Tangy Honey Mustard Sauce
water
sugar
dijon mustard (distilled vinegar, mustard seed, salt, water, white wine, spices)
corn syrup solids
honey
soybean oil
distilled vinegar
modified food starch
egg yolks, and 2% or less of the following:
mustard seed
turmeric
spices
xanthan gum
salt
titanium dioxide
benzoate (preservative)
yellow 5
yellow 6

I am relieved to see that both honey and mustard make an appearance in both substances. Turmeric is used for coloring, which is a great idea since turmeric is an incredibly healthy spice with anti-inflammatory properties. It's bright yellow color makes it great for these sauces. So why did McDonald's have to throw in Yellow 5 and Yellow 6? I wish I knew. These artificial colors are both known carcinogens - meaning they are known to cause cancer. Titanium dioxide, another ingredient on the McDonald's list, was classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a potential carcinogen because it has caused respiratory cancer in rats. Yes, it's used in minute substances in the sauce, and yes, that's probably okay if you only eat it twice a year. But what else is titanium dioxide good for? It's one of the whitest substances known to man, so it's really good at refracting light. This makes it a key ingredient in many sunblocks, and it's great as a protective coating for your car. Mmmm.

Not to pick on McDonald's. The Chick-fil-A list is better, but only slightly. What are those mysterious natural flavors? They are, by definition, some flavoring developed in a laboratory using things derived from natural sources. These natural sources could be anything - including tree bark - according to the USDA. "Natural flavors" could even mean MSG, which has to be listed by law but can be listed as a "natural flavor". MSG is known to cause adverse reactions in many people including headaches, chest pain, and numbness or tingling in the face.

Time for a real Honey Mustard Sauce recipe. I haven't tested this one out myself, but I believe Food Network chef Alton Brown and 50-some reviewers know what they are talking about!

Alton Brown's Honey Mustard Sauce
5 T medium-body honey (wildflower honey should work)
3 T smooth Dijon mustard
2 T rice wine vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. This can be used as a dressing or a dip.

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