This is what I think the Boar’s Head sign should really say…
“Don’t Trust Boar’s Head!”
“Artificially Browned with Carcinogenic Caramel Color!”
Boar’s Head artificially browns some varieties of deli meat with class III and class IV caramel coloring, which is linked to cancer (this is the same color that we successfully campaigned to get removed from Starbucks drinks!) Caramel coloring is in a dozen of their meats, including the Rotisserie Seasoned Roasted Chicken Breast, EverRoast Turkey, Seasoned Filet Roast Beef, and Maple Honey Ham.
“Made With GMOs?!?!?!”
We asked Boar’s Head if any of their deli meats contain GMOs and they didn’t respond. Yet, they use many ingredients that are usually derived from GMO crops like sugar (sugar beets). Added sugar and/or dextrose (typically made from GMO corn) is found in a lot of their meats, even in ones that seem healthier like their “No Salt Added Turkey Breast”. Other meats that are “maple glazed” and “honey coat” contain more sugar and dextrose than real honey or maple syrup. They also told us that their caramel coloring is derived from corn and some of them are browned in cottonseed oil (the worst GMO oil on the planet and is regulated like a textile crop (more toxic pesticides!) – cottonseed oil is not food!). Boar’s Head claims that many of their meats are “Vegetarian Grain-Fed”, yet this is often code for “GMO-fed” animals when not organic.
“Raised with Antibiotics!”
To be fair, they do have a “Natural” line that is antibiotic-free, but they told us the others are given antibiotics for disease prevention. Now that Subway has made the commitment to stop using antibiotics to raise their deli meats, hopefully Boar’s Head will follow suit. Boar’s Head also told us that they have no organic deli meat. Organic meats are prohibited from using antibiotics and growth-promoting drugs and hormones in their animals. Organic animals also can’t be fed GMOs or given drugs like ractopamine.
“Flavored with Secret and Proprietary Ingredients!”
Several of Boar’s Head meats contain “natural flavors” or “Natural Hickory Smoke Flavoring”. Just because it doesn’t contain artificial flavors, that doesn’t mean the taste isn’t fake or engineered in a lab. The chemicals that are used to make “natural flavors” are kept secret from consumers and their “safety is sometimes declared based on scientific data that isn’t publicly available”.
What about their Preservative-free claims?
Boar’s Head sent me a list of their deli meats with “No Preservatives and Without Added Nitrates”, yet I found that some of these meats – like the Cajun Style Smoked Turkey, Lemon Pepper Chicken and All American BBQ Chicken – still contained sodium phosphate. This additive is on EWG’s Dirty Dozen list of ingredients to avoid because it can increase the risk of heart disease.
Maltodextrin has no place in deli meat that takes “No Compromises”.
I found the additive maltodextrin in some of their meats: Everroast Roasted Chicken, All American BBQ Chicken, London Broil Roast Beef, Virginia Ham, and Lemon Pepper Chicken, and most of these also contain dextrose and other added sugars. These ingredients are carbohydrates and commonly used as “fillers” in cheap processed food, like the taco “meat” at Taco Bell. Maltodextrin is also often a hidden form of MSG.
I don’t eat deli meats often, but when I do this is what I choose:
- 100% certified organic (preferably grass fed/pastured) – This ensures that the animals weren’t given antibiotics or growth hormones, weren’t fed GMOs, and none of the ingredients are derived from GMOs.
- I like to roast whole pieces of organic meat, and slice it myself. This way, I know exactly what’s in it and there’s no processing!
- Whole organic sliced deli meat without sodium nitrate.
- No fillers or additives like carrageenan or maltodextrin.
- Brands that list their ingredients online (if not already pre-packaged with ingredients).