Is Best Foods Mayonnaise Healthier Than It Used To Be?

You may have seen recent television and magazine advertisements for Best Foods “real” olive oil mayonnaise, claiming its health benefits due to its Omega 3 content. Best Foods has started by changing the labeling on their mayonnaise to read “Real”, along with the assertion in their ads that their mayonnaise is made with “real” food. It sounds convincing, but when you look at the ingredients, you can immediately discern otherwise:

Water, oils (soybean oil, extra virgin olive oil), vinegar, whole eggs and egg yolks, modified corn starch, sugar, salt, lemon juice, (sorbic acid*, calcium disodium EDTA) used to protect quality, xantham gum*, citric acid*, natural flavors, oleoresin paprika, beta carotene* (color). Gluten free.

*Ingredient not in mayonnaise

There is a list of words in fine print at the bottom of the page found on their web site with this information which reads the following:

*Contains 650mg ALA per serving which is 50% Daily Value for Omega 3 ALA (1300mg).

For anyone acquainted with natural sources, it is pretty obvious that none of the ingredients listed have anything containing Omega 3 essential fatty acids. Soybean oil is a processed, rancid oil that is extremely high in Omega 6 content.  Too many Omega 6s in the diet cause inflammation, which contributes to degenerative disease.

Olive oil is a healthy oil only if it is high quality (Best Foods uses Bertolli) and is contained properly (in a dark bottle). Olive oil can go rancid easily, and sitting in a jar of mayonnaise with a clear glass container is a good place for that to occur. Olive oil is not an Omega 3 essential fatty acid, it is actually an Omega 9.

Here is the ingredient list for Best Foods standard mayonnaise:

Soybean oil, whole eggs, vinegar, water, egg yolks, salt, sugar, lemon juice, natural flavors, calcium disodium EDTA (used to protect quality)

Of course, Best Foods are still touting the usual trendy statement to which many food companies lay claim, which is that their products contain “no trans fats”. Au contrare, but they do! Like many other commercial mayonnaises, this brand contains soybean oil, which is always rancid by the time it gets to your sandwich or salad (a trans fat by any other name).

They even put butter and lard in the same category as partially-hydrogenated oils. Shame on them for misleading the consumer!

The ingredient calcium disodium EDTA is a neurotoxin and is dangerous to consume. Read about this here.

According to Hellman’s and Best Foods:

What is real mayonnaise?
Mayonnaise, as defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Standard of Identity, must contain at least 65% oil by weight, vinegar, and egg or egg yolks. It may contain spices and natural seasonings except turmeric and saffron, whose yellow color might suggest added egg yolk. Preservatives such as calcium disodium EDTA are acceptable and approved for use in mayonnaise.

On another topic of relevance, we know that many store-bought products contain ingredients with GMOs (genetically-modifed organisms). Mayonnaise is no exception. Here is an interesting blog post I found from a person who contacted Best Foods/Unilever Foods asking about the presence of GMO’s in their mayonnaise, and here is their response:

Thanks for writing!

It is our policy that any of our products which may contain ingredients created through the use of biotechnology, be proven that their safety to consumers and the environment is fully established.

Biotechnology has the potential to help meet the demands of people for everyday products that are more environmentally friendly; that involve less processing; that are more functional; that taste better; that last longer; that provide added nutritional benefits; that are customized to an individual’s lifestyle; and that are currently available. Biotechnology is important to Unilever (Lipton etc,) because it helps our mission as one of the world’s largest consumer goods companies to continue to deliver innovative products that our consumers tell us they want. Products resulting from biotechnology have been used successfully and safely for many years – for example: in the pharmaceutical industry.

We are also committed to the provision of the best possible information to the consumer. The FDA has had a sound labeling system in place for biotech foods since 1992. Under that system, biotech foods must be labeled if they are found to be significantly different from their conventional counterparts, or if they contain allergens. This is the same basic program that safeguards the conventional food supply in the United States.

Since there is no difference between plants or foods derived from biotechnology and those not derived, there is no clear reason to label either respectively. All of our products are labeled in accordance with the rules and regulations of the federal government.

It is our responsibility at Unilever – and a responsibility we take very seriously – to make certain all of our ingredients are safe. We believe biotechnology is already significant and that its development will continue to bring major benefits to society as a whole.

Thank you for your interest,

Your friends at Unilever Foods

Basically, what I believe the company is telling the consumer in this letter is that you should not worry about anything created synthetically, and that any of those items are just as safe to consume as anything grown in nature. I’m also hearing that because the government has set forth laws and regulations, and Best Foods adheres to those standards, we should just blindly trust their judgment about what is healthy to consume (we know they’ve been wrong before!). It is unbelievable that companies are allowed to sell foods like this, present untruthful information, and then use government laws and regulations to back up their claims.

To recap what we’ve discussed here:

  1. Best Foods Mayonnaise does not contain Omega 3 essential fatty acids. It does in fact, contain Omega 6s (from rancid soybean oil) and Omega 9s from olive oil of which we don’t know a great lot of detail about its source. We already mentioned that too many Omega 6s lead to disease. Too many Omega 6s are common in the Western diet (particularly in the United States).
  2. This brand includes additives in their product such as calcium disodium EDTA and “natural flavors” (for preservative and taste qualities) that have been shown to cause health issues. For more reading on these subjects, check out Hard to Swallow: The Truth About Food Additives by Karen Evans and Doris Sarjent and Excitoxins: The Taste that Kills By Dr. Russell Blaylock, M.D.
  3. Best Foods also admits to using GMOs in their ingredients, and claims these substances are not harmful to human health (soybean oil is usually from a GMO source unless otherwise labeled, and Best Foods claims in their letter above not only to use GMOs but also believes they are safe to consume). To learn more about the dangers of GMOs, visit the Safe Food web site.
  4. Finally, the other ingredients used in their mayonnaise are most likely from factory farm and industrial sources – eggs, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, and water. Industrial eggs are wrought with chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, and contain low levels of nutrients – especially the all-important Omega 3s and conjugated linoleic acid.

There may be some question as to whether or not other brands are as nutritionally-deficient as Best Foods, and the answer is most definitely, yes. Just read the labels to find out; become a health sleuth. Many brands will claim that vegetable oils such as canola oil are “heart healthy”. Canola oil is another high content Omega 6, usually genetically-modified, and rancid on the shelf. This oil is commonly found in many brands of mayonnaise. Most brands on the market will have either canola, soybean, sunflower, safflower, or cottonseed oil in them – all are unhealthy vegetable oils that are not organic, unless labeled, are rancid, and genetically-modified.

Alternatives? Make your own mayonnaise. Here are some good recipes:

Dr. Ben Kim

Cheeseslave

Kelly The Kitchen Kop

Passionate Homemaking – coconut oil mayonnaise!

This post is listed on Kelly The Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays Carnival. Check out the other great real food posts there.

18 Comments

  • Dean Hughson
    July 8, 2009 - 6:00 PM | Permalink

    Your information on eggs is incorrect. Hormones and antibiotics aren’t used and you have no proof on nutrients being different. This is not good writing. review http://www.aeb.org to learn more about eggs of all types

  • July 8, 2009 - 6:30 PM | Permalink

    Another great examples of why we have to be skeptical of labeling and advertising.

    In regard to Dean’s comment, I just love it when people provide industry links to justify their argument!

  • July 8, 2009 - 7:30 PM | Permalink

    Dean, I’m sorry you don’t agree with the evidence I’ve placed out here in this article. I know for a fact that the eggs Best Foods uses are not organic nor pasture-raised (companies always label these items when their products come from these sources, and Best Foods does not claim to use organic, pasture-raised eggs in their mayonnaise), which automatically means that the eggs are from chickens raised in feedlot operations where they are fed non-ideal feed like corn, soy, and grains (these feeds are usually GMO), and are treated with hormones and/or antibiotics. It’s the same old argument, which doesn’t hold water, that it doesn’t matter where your nutrients come from, whether it be chocolate cake containing eggs or whole eggs – and this is just silly nonsense.

    Vin, yes, it’s always a dead-giveaway about the motive when research comes from companies who are paying for it to occur. :)

  • pamelaknits
    July 8, 2009 - 10:08 PM | Permalink

    WOW……..is all I got to say! Thank you :) for the informative article on mayonnaise.
    Makes me wonder about other brands??? Do you know anything about Hellman’s?
    They have several versions……..original, olive oil, lime. I really need to start making
    all our own. But we have been using Hellman’s because they are one brand that is
    definitely gluten free for my hubby. There actually are brands out there that have gluten in them.
    And Miracle Whip is not mayo……oh how I have argued that one with many and it also has gluten in it.

  • July 8, 2009 - 11:02 PM | Permalink

    Be very careful of products talking about being gluten-free, because while they may indeed be gluten-free, they often contain other very dangerous substances to consume such as MSG (an excitotoxin – see the reference to Dr. Russell Blaylock’s book ,Excitotoxins, the Taste that Kills in the article) and other processed grains. Hellman’s is made by the same company as Best Foods, Unilever Foods, and as I mentioned above, Hellman’s and most other brands contain toxic ingredients. So that goes for Miracle Whip also (although as you pointed out, it is not mayo). There are a few healthy brands on the market, I’m just not sure what they are (and the ones I’ve heard about are pretty expensive). It’s better just to make your own!

  • pamelaknits
    July 8, 2009 - 11:17 PM | Permalink

    Thanks Raine! We watch for MSG big time…..don’t even want to go near it. I’m a serious label reader and research gluten free big time. Been doing this for 5 plus years now.
    You should do a posting on gluten free sometime.

  • July 8, 2009 - 11:23 PM | Permalink

    I do have a gluten-free article…here it is! http://agriculturesociety.wordpress.com/2009/05/04/the-big-gluten-free-lie/
    Enjoy!

  • July 9, 2009 - 1:46 PM | Permalink

    Raine, great post and great reply to Dean, too! :)

  • M.
    July 9, 2009 - 4:16 PM | Permalink

    The article mentions several times that oil that has become rancid is therefore trans fatty oil. I don’t believe so. Isn’t trans fat the result of a process used to solidify oil, having nothing to do with whether it is fresh or rancid?
    Otherwise, good article. I make my own, knowing what is in it!
    NO to GMOs!!!!

  • July 9, 2009 - 4:29 PM | Permalink

    Thanks Kelly! Dean happens to be the head of the Egg Council. Interesting, isn’t it?

    M. – When oils become rancid, they automatically revert to a trans-fat state, that is why consuming rancid acids is so bad for your health. And yes, when oils are hydrogenated in that process, they also become a trans fat. The problem is, companies are misleading consumers by using cheaper oils to sell products they claim are healthy, when in reality, they simply are not. Why don’t these companies use good quality, healthy oils like extra virgin olive oil, extra virgin coconut oil, or real palm oil? The answer lies in the money. These products are too costly and to save $$, companies use these cheaper, unhealthy oils and put health claims on them that are simply unsubstantiated by anything real or scientific. They’ve just got everyone thinking they’re healthy because they’ve been chanting this stuff so long everyone believes it. Just remember, anything that is artificially produced like canola oil or other vegetable oils is not healthy to consume. The only way companies can get those oils into the states they are in to be packaged and sold is to process the heck out of them.

    • Dean Hughson
      August 18, 2009 - 6:17 PM | Permalink

      I am not the head of the egg council. The American Egg Board represents all egg producers (cage,cage free,organic)

      Again, your posting is incorrect and shows your bias. You haven’t researched but depended on ancedotal remarks which are just fabrications.

      Look for verified research, not articles from fellow believers.

      • Lonna in Claremont, CA
        February 4, 2010 - 5:33 PM | Permalink

        It’s her blog!!! She can write whatever she wants to and you can choose to read whatever you want to – the beauty of a free country.

        If you have a problem with what she writes, then I suggest you not read it. If you want to continue to read and comment, I suggest that you come with some hard core facts, not an industry website.

        BTW – The American Egg Board represents all egg producers for “marketing” purposes, it is a biased source of information.

        In thier own words – “The American Egg Board (AEB) is the U.S. egg producer’s link to consumers is communicating the value of the incredible egg. Our mission is to increase demand for egg and egg products on behalf of U.S. egg producers.”

  • pamelaknits
    August 18, 2009 - 6:58 PM | Permalink

    Oh, brother……….I think a few feathers have been ruffled :) !

  • August 19, 2009 - 5:07 PM | Permalink

    I’m not too worried Pamela. Safe Food and Dr. Blaylock are definitely verified research. The “anecdotal evidence” being referred to here is blog post from an individual who received an actual letter back from Unilever Foods, and it definitely shows this company is not the slightest bit concerned about GMO foods (which is then backed up by scientific research from the Safe Foods web site).

    There is no disputing the fact that most companies don’t use organic and sustainable ingredients in their products, it’s just the way it is, and if they don’t label it, it’s industrial.

    Organic foods are more nutritious, and that fact cannot be changed either. Here’s a link from a reputable source – Organic Consumer’s Association http://www.organicconsumers.org/organic/organic_nutrition.cfm (featured in the NY Times and with scientific research from The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the European Journal of Nutrition (and numerous other citings).

  • pamelaknits
    August 19, 2009 - 5:54 PM | Permalink

    I know your not worried. I agreed with all you said from the start. I just find it hilarious to read statements by those whose feathers get ruffled and from various others I’ve read over time that try hard to back peddled their views, etc..
    Keep up the good postings Raine.

  • August 20, 2009 - 3:12 AM | Permalink

    Yes, the truth will set us free.

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