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Old 12-08-2005, 04:30 PM
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Guano in Doritos?

Did Doritos once include guano (bat excrement) as an ingredient? The story I have heard is that the Frito-Lay company was unable to rid their corn silos of bats so instead decided to accept that the bat waste would be in the chips. They then added guano to the ingredient list on all of their corn-based products. This supposedly ended in the 1980's.

Any idea?
Old 12-08-2005, 04:53 PM
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This really sounds like an Urban Legend. With just possibly a grain of truth at the bottom.

The truth is that all food products made from natural ingrediants contain a certain tine percentage of contamination. Corn is grown in dirt fields, and there is dirt & dust on the corn after it's picked, stored, & hauled to the factory. And birds, bats, & bugs all feed on the corn in the field, and can leave deposits behind. It would be nearly impossible (and certainly price it beyond reach) to remove all contamination from natural foods.
Old 12-08-2005, 04:53 PM
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This reeks (get it? guano? reeks? Hah!) of an urban legend to me. Did the tale you heard mention how they managed to get around the FDA?
Old 12-08-2005, 04:59 PM
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You'll go BATSHIT over New Doritos™- Now with EXTRA Guano!
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Old 12-08-2005, 05:09 PM
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My first thought is that this is the reuslt of a serious misundertanding of basic chemistry. Doritos, like most spicy foods, contain various nitrates. Nitrates are (and were more often in the past) extracted from guano. As a result foods often did contain material originally extracted from guano. But that doesn't mean the products contain guano. Doritos also contain products extracted from coal and seawater. That doesn't mean they contain actual coal and seawater.
Old 12-08-2005, 05:09 PM
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Here's my complete reply. Somehow I posted a partial one early.

This really sounds like an Urban Legend. With just possibly a grain of truth at the bottom.

The truth is that all food products made from natural ingrediants contain a certain tine percentage of contamination. Corn is grown in dirt fields, and there is dirt & dust on the corn after it's picked, stored, & hauled to the factory. And birds, bats, & bugs all feed on the corn in the field, and can leave deposits behind. It would be nearly impossible (and certainly price it beyond reach) to remove all contamination from natural foods.

So the government regulators have specs that limit the amount to what is considered 'normal practice'. Anything over this limit is not acceptable for sale. And, of course, the limit is affected by the toxicity of the material. Dirt won't hurt you much, so the amount of dirt on corn is higher than the limit for, say, a cleaner used in the processing plant.

But the urban legend parts of this are many:
- Frito-Lay doesn't even own silos, farmers do. Frito-Lay buys their corn from food suppliers who bought it from elevators who buy from farmers.
- bat guano is quite different from corn, and shouldn't be that hard to remove. Wash the corn cobs before shelling them? After shelling, run the kernals thru a seperator which eliminates non-yellow kernals? Lots of other possibilities.
- bats aren't common pests in silos in the Midwest corn-growing areas. Birds & bugs & rodents are much more of a problem. I'd say mouse turds would be more likely than bat guano for most Iowa corn!
- any ingredient making up less than 1% doesn't have to be listed on the package. And if it was more than that, it would have been a big enough amount that they would have been able to separate it out.

Just sounds really unlikely to me.
Old 12-08-2005, 05:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected]
H - Frito-Lay doesn't even own silos, farmers do.
I will guarantee that Frito-Lay does own silos. It's far easier to operate any grain processing facility if you store material in elevated silos. That's true whether it be bakery or corn syrup plant or corn chip manufacture. Gravity feed is just such a cheap and obvious way to move and seive grains.
Old 12-08-2005, 05:19 PM
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voodoo, why do you waste our time with such a ridiculous question?

Of course Doritos always have been largely guano. Why do you think they taste the way they do?
Old 12-08-2005, 06:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aahala
Of course Doritos always have been largely guano. Why do you think they taste the way they do?
Delicious?
Old 12-08-2005, 09:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blake
My first thought is that this is the reuslt of a serious misundertanding of basic chemistry. Doritos, like most spicy foods, contain various nitrates. Nitrates are (and were more often in the past) extracted from guano. As a result foods often did contain material originally extracted from guano.

Ok, now explain to us (some of whom were EATING DORITOS whilst reading) that this is NO LONGER THE CASE.
Old 12-08-2005, 10:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cluricaun
Ok, now explain to us (some of whom were EATING DORITOS whilst reading) that this is NO LONGER THE CASE.
Unfortunately I couldn't say that for sure. Guano is still mined for nitrates in various parts of the world, and nitrates are still used in food. I imagine that these days it would be cheaper to use chemically derived nitrates but I couldn't swear to it.

But that's OK, your Doritos, like most non-wheaten flour products, also probably contain material extracted from human hair collected from barbershop floor sweepings. Check the label for Cysteine

These things really aren't a big deal. The end product is so chemically refined and altered from the original raw material that it's weaker thanthe relationship between coal tar and the yellow colouring in your Doritos.
Old 12-09-2005, 04:19 PM
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ever listed as an ingredient?

I have no trouble with the concept that there are trace amounts of guano or some guano compound in Doritos. The real interesting question is whether Doritos at any point ever listed guano as an ingredient. Anyone have an old bag of Doritos from the 70's or 80's?
Old 12-09-2005, 04:38 PM
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I'd hate to be in any house that still has bags of Doritos from 30 years ago. Even empty ones.

However, the answer to your question is no. Just like rat hairs or insect parts or any of the other natural world contamination that is absolutely inescapable, ingredient lists do not have to state the presence of anything that is not a part of the recipe but comes in as the result of natural processing.

Today's food labeling laws did not even exist in the 1970s, BTW.
Old 12-09-2005, 06:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected]
So the government regulators have specs that limit the amount to what is considered 'normal practice'. Anything over this limit is not acceptable for sale. And, of course, the limit is affected by the toxicity of the material. Dirt won't hurt you much, so the amount of dirt on corn is higher than the limit for, say, a cleaner used in the processing plant.
Actually, the limits are based on what Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP's) can eliminate from the food stream and what can be tested for. AFAIK, there is not test for bird, bat, or rodent feces, so there is not a limit. Common sense tells you (and the folks at F-L) that you don't want any visable amount of any type of excrement. The regulated part is the pest control and sanitation and on site inspection requirements. For example, the air in your plant must contain no more than 10 bacteria that will settle on 20cm^2 in 15 minutes. If you have a bat or bird problem, you won't pass this. If FDA sees bats in your plant on inspection, you will not pass and will not be allowed to sell food.
Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected]
- Frito-Lay doesn't even own silos, farmers do. Frito-Lay buys their corn from food suppliers who bought it from elevators who buy from farmers.
I can also assure you that F-L has silos, I've seen them. Where do you think they store their incoming corn? They also have a nifty elevator that picks up semis and dumps all the 'tater's into the hopper, but that's a different story
Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected]
- bat guano is quite different from corn, and shouldn't be that hard to remove. Wash the corn cobs before shelling them? After shelling, run the kernals thru a seperator which eliminates non-yellow kernals? Lots of other possibilities.
There is no possible way to optically screen corn kernals in the amount that F-L uses them. Furthermore, corn is stored shelled since it is easier to move, takes up less space, and the cobs develop off-flavors. In the food industry, you store ingredients in the most dense (and therefore cost effective) manner possible. In fact, most corn is removed form the cob in the field so the farmers don't have to transport cobs to the co-op. The cobs go back into the field to decompose.
Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected]
- bats aren't common pests in silos in the Midwest corn-growing areas. Birds & bugs & rodents are much more of a problem. I'd say mouse turds would be more likely than bat guano for most Iowa corn!
Actually, a good silo doesn't have pests, it has mesh over vents and is generally inhospitable to most vermin. Barns have bats and birds and mice and cats and cows, etc...not silos.
Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected]
- any ingredient making up less than 1% doesn't have to be listed on the package. And if it was more than that, it would have been a big enough amount that they would have been able to separate it out.
If you add it, it goes on the label. There is not 1% cut off. If you know it is there, it goes on the label. If you don't believe me, ask anyone with a nut allergy how 0.9% of a serving of nuts would make them feel.

Which takes us back to the OP, you are only allowed to add ingredients that are approved by the federal government for use in foods. Many ingredients such as preservatives also have maximum use levels. If you wanted guano in your chips, you would have to prove to the government that guano is safe at a level several hundred times the amount that an average person would consume. I doubt that F-L would go to all that trouble to put guano on the label. Also, common sense tells you that F-L would not want to put guano on the label. We like 'clean' food labels with a few ingredients with normal, pronouncable names.

I can also pretty much guarantee that there is no nitrate from guano or cystene from human hair, or color from coal tar in your food. These chemicals are cheaper to produce from food sources or completely synthetically than they are to refine to the specifications of the Feds.

Now, if you had said your food was red because of beetle butts, I'd buy it.
Old 12-09-2005, 06:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xbuckeye
I can also pretty much guarantee that there is no nitrate from guano or cystene from human hair, or color from coal tar in your food. These chemicals are cheaper to produce from food sources or completely synthetically than they are to refine to the specifications of the Feds.
Is this some kind of joke? It takes an active effort to fill a shoping cart with a normal week's groceries without buying several products with coal tar dyes. Admittedly these days they are often produced from petroleum instead of coal tar, but that is hardly an impovemnt.

And there are certainly plenty of US food products using human derived cysteine, or at least there were 10 years ago.
Old 12-09-2005, 07:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blake
Is this some kind of joke? It takes an active effort to fill a shoping cart with a normal week's groceries without buying several products with coal tar dyes. Admittedly these days they are often produced from petroleum instead of coal tar, but that is hardly an impovemnt.

And there are certainly plenty of US food products using human derived cysteine, or at least there were 10 years ago.
They are still called "coal tar dyes" but are no longer made from coal tar. Again, it is much more expensive to extract it from coal tar dye and purify it than it is to make it synthetically.

Cysteine is readily available in most plants, like broccoli and its relatives, and is a non-essential amino acid, can you tell me a food that has cysteine as an ingredient? If so, how do you know it is from a human source? Do you really think we are eating parts of people? I'm off to search the pantry.
Old 12-09-2005, 07:17 PM
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I stand corrected...apparently, we sometimes eat extract of human hair as a dough conditioner in baked goods.

mmmMMMMmmmyummy
Old 12-09-2005, 07:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xbuckeye
They are still called "coal tar dyes" but are no longer made from coal tar. Again, it is much more expensive to extract it from coal tar dye and purify it than it is to make it synthetically.
They are no longer commonly made from coal tar, as I said above.

But I don't get the rest of this. Coal tar dyes made from coal tar are made synthetically. It's not a natural process. The starting material (IIRC my organic chem) is aniline, exactly the same starting material as is used when the dye is extracted from petroleum oil. There's no purification of the actual dyes involved.

Quote:
Cysteine is readily available in most plants, like broccoli and its relatives, and is a non-essential amino acid
The thing is that brocolli is a commodity in itself, so it makes no sense to destroy it to extract a relatively small amount of cysteine. Hair contains far more cysteine and has no other market. I believe these days that most cytseine is derived from mineral oil, but plenty still comes from barber shop sweepings.


Quote:
can you tell me a food that has cysteine as an ingredient?
As you fund out, it's a flour conditioner. As I understand it it's found in goods made from non-wheaten flour (like Doritos) or low grade wheat flour.


Quote:
If so, how do you know it is from a human source?
You don't. That's the point. It's just a simple, refined organic chemical. It's like worrying that the carbon dioxide in the bread was breathed out by people.
It doens't matter that it once came fom people unless you have a religious objection to eating (such products are definitely not kosher).


Quote:
Do you really think we are eating parts of people?
No, we are eating simple chemicals. Those chemicals may once have been part of something thatwas once part of people. But we do that all the time. We also breathe them in constantly, and drink them in every glass of water.
Old 12-09-2005, 07:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blake
We also breathe them in constantly, and drink them in every glass of water.
Your municipal water supply most likely draws water from a dirty river.
Somewhere that an upstream sewage disposal plant has dumped hundreds of gallons of 'yellow liquid' urine daily!

As Aflred E. Newman said, "What? Me worry?"
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Old 12-09-2005, 09:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xbuckeye
AFAIK, there is not test for bird, bat, or rodent feces, so there is not a limit.
There is an indirect test for rodent feces: rodent hairs. Rats groom themselves, digest some of their hair, the hair in the feces survives most processing. Ergo, rodent hair implies rodent feces. Hence FDA rules such as this one.

(So, would bats count as "rodents" for this purpose?)
Old 12-09-2005, 10:17 PM
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This is kind of a shot in the dark, but could this whole thing have gotten started when someone misunderstood the name of the flavor enhancer disodium guanylate in the ingredients list? Despite the guan- prefix, it is "derived from dried fish or dried seaweed", not anything nasty.
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