Where are you, RoboCop?
RoboCop is a movie from the 80s era. I watched it as a child (although I hear there’s a 2014 re-make). Anyway, good cop gets brutally murdered and is given a new lease of life in the crime-fighting world as a cyborg cop. Robot superhero he may be, he is haunted by memories of the events leading up to his murder. I’m thinking, you can guess the ending from here.
So what has RoboCop got to do with what I’m up to here?
Well, it’s got to do with this made in Thailand snack – a seemingly innocuous packet of rice cookies with seaweed. I bought it, thinking rice cookies = gluten free. Innocuous it is not!
I’m strong on the habit of checking the ingredients list (well, most of the time, when I’m not shopping super hungry, letting my eyes and hunger dominate over all good sense). I don’t see any wheat flour, no MSG/E621 – I buy it. Soon after eating eat, I am struck by the worst headache, haunting memories of head pain after consuming MSG hover over me. I check the ingredients list again – no MSG. What could it be?
I see something I have never seen before: Robotide. I do a search and all I’m getting is a computer software with downloading opportunities. I ditch that search and this time search E635. It is described as a flavour enhancer comprising guanylates and insinuates. It goes on to read that its used in many products low in sodium / salt. But Bangkok Cookies has salt 2 notches ahead. First alarm – way too much salt here!
But the brutality of this product goes on. Guanylates and insinuates, I understand, metabolise into purines. It should be avoided by people who suffer asthma, gout and by children under 12 (I wonder why? Something to do with the way it affect the development of the brain maybe?). It’s also said to be generally produced from meat, or fish – either way, not suitable for vegetarians / vegans. Who would have known, nothing in the ingredients list alerts you to this.
Disodium guanylate (E627), I discover as I read on, has similar effects to MSG (jackpot – I got my answer). However, because it is derived from fermentation, usually of tapioca starch, it can be classified as a natural flavour (not dissimilar to the situation of carrageenan, I guess). Disodium guanylate, I understand, is expensive, so it’s usually combined with MSG (can you beat that ?!)
E627 (disodium guanylate) + E631 (disodium inosinate) = E635 (disodium ribonucleotides, or, as Bangkok Cookies puts it, Robotide)
Clearly, reading the ingredients list is just not enough. Bangkok Rice Seaweed Cookies, seemingly a green-light snack for gluten sensitive consumers, could land you with an MSG-esque headache and is NOT suitable for vegetarians/vegans. Is it good enough that it alerts you to allergies? Its a ‘criming‘ shame.
Where are you when we need you RoboCop?!