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Here's A Closer Look At The 34 Ingredients In A Cool Ranch Dorito

How many foods have an ingredient called "blue"?

Posted on September 27, 2015, at 11:53 a.m. ET

final gather / Via Flickr: 23629083@N03

Most processed foods contain a long list of additives — but have you ever wondered what they would really look like if you broke down a food into its component ingredients? How blue is Blue No 1? What form does pure riboflavin take?

A new book, Ingredients: A Visual Exploration of 75 Additives and 25 Food Products, separates each of the ingredients that make up some of our favorite snacks, and explains what these additives really are.

Here, for example, are the 34 ingredients that make up a Cool Ranch Dorito:

Dwight Eschliman / Via Ingredients: A Visual Exploration of 75 Additives & 25 Food Products

01 Corn

Vegetable Oil:

02 Corn oil; 03 Canola oil; 04 and/or Sunflower Oil;

05 Maltodextrin (made from corn); 06 Salt; 07 Tomato powder; 08 Cornstarch; 09 Lactose; 10 Whey; 11 Skim milk; 12 Corn syrup solids; 13 Onion powder; 14 Sugar; 15 Garlic powder; 16 Monosodium glutamate

Cheddar Cheese:

17 Milk; 18 Cheese cultures; 19 Salt; 20 Enzymes; 21 Dextrose; 22 Malic acid; 23 Buttermilk; 24 Natural flavor; 25 Artificial flavor; 26 Sodium acetate

Artificial color including:

27 Red No. 40; 28 Blue No. 1; 29 Yellow No.5;

30 Sodium caseinate; 31 Spices; 32 Citric acid; 33 Disodium inosinate; 34 Disodium guanylate

"One thing we clearly oppose is chemophobia," wrote co-author Steve Ettlinger.

"The idea that everything with a long chemical name is definitely bad for you is just plain stupid,"

Additives are used "for at least one of four reasons: to make the food product more nutritious, to make it easier to prepare, to make it more appealing, or to make it stay fresh longer." Most of the time, the goal is to makes foods more cost efficient.

For instance, azodicarbonamide (ADA), or the so-called "yoga mat chemical" found in breads, "gives strength to dough and makes baked goods lighter because it helps with gas retention," Ingredients explains. Yet "technically speaking, you are never actually eating ADA; once it hits the moisture in dough, it converts into harmless biurea, an organic water-insoluble chemical compound that passes through your body without effect."

Here are the 12 ingredients in a Hebrew National Hot Dog:

Dwight Eschliman / Via Ingredients: A Visual Exploration of 75 Additives & 25 Food Products

01 Beef; 02 Water; 03 Salt; 04 Spice; 05 Sodium lactate; 06 Paprika; 07 Hydrolyzed soy protein; 08 Garlic powder; 09 Sodium diacetate; 10 Sodium erythorbate; 11 Flavoring; 12 Sodium nitrite

A historic document

Ettlinger and co-author Dwight Eschliman, who photographed the additives, said panic about chemicals is often unwarranted, although "everyone should know to eat mostly fruit, vegetables, and whole grains."

Many companies, from food manufacturers like General Mills to fast food chains like Taco Bell, are removing artificial ingredients from their products. The book profiles 75 of the most commonly used additives today, but things may change. "It's possible that our book will become a historic document," Eschliman told BuzzFeed News.

Ettlinger and Eschliman don't say whether any of these additives are good for you, but point out that in the end, all foods, processed or natural, are really just a delicious medley of chemicals. Take, for example, a beloved McDonald's staple.

Chicken McNuggets: 40 ingredients

Dwight Eschliman / Via Ingredients: A Visual Exploration of 75 Additives & 25 Food Products

01 White boneless chicken; 02 Water; 03 Food starch-modified; 04 Salt;


05 Autolyzed yeast; 06 Salt; 07 Wheat starch; 08 Natural flavor (botanical source); 09 Safflower oil; 10 Dextrose; 11 Citric acid;

12 Sodium phosphates; 13 Natural flavor (botanical source)

Battered and breaded with:

14 Water; Enriched flour (15 bleached wheat flour; 16 Niacin; 17 Reduced iron; 18 Thiamine mononitrate; 19 Riboflavin; 20 Folic acid); 21 Yellow corn flour; 22 Bleached wheat flour; 23 Food starch-modified; 24 Salt;


25 Baking soda; 26 Sodium acid pyrophosphate 27 Sodium aluminum phosphate; 28 Monocalcium phosphate; 29 Calcium lactate;

30 Spices; 31 Wheat starch; 32 Dextrose; 33 Corn starch

Prepared in Vegetable Oil:
34 Canola oil; 35 Corn oil; 36 Soybean oil; 37 Hydrogenated soybean oil; 38 with

; 39 and Citric Acid to preserve freshness of the oil; 40 and Dimethylpolysiloxane to reduce oil splatter when cooking

Or consider the Twinkie and its 42 ingredients:

Dwight Eschliman / Via Ingredients: A Visual Exploration of 75 Additives & 25 Food Products

Enriched Bleached Flour:

01 Flour; 02 Reduced iron; 03 Niacin; 04 Thiamine mononitrate (B1); 05 Riboflavin (B2); 06 Folic Acid;

07 Water; 08 Sugar; 09 Corn syrup; 10 High-fructose corn syrup;

Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable and/or Animal Shortening:
11 Soybean oil; 12 Cottonseed oil; 13 and/or Canola oil; 14 Beef fat;

15 Whole eggs; 16 Dextrose;

17 Soy lecithin;


18 Sodium acid pyrophosphate; 19 Baking soda; 20 Cornstarch; 21 Monocalcium phosphate;

22 Modified cornstarch 23 Glucose; 24 Whey; 25 Glycerin; 26 Soybean oil; 27 Salt; 28 Monoglycerides; 29 Diglycerides; 30 Polysorbate 60; 31 Cornstarch; 32 Sodium stearoyl lactylate; 33 Natural flavor; 34 Artificial flavor; 35 Sorbic acid (to retain freshness); 36 Potassium sorbate; 37 Xanthan gum; 38 Cellulose gum; 39 Enzyme; 40 Wheat flour; 41 Yellow No. 5; 42 Red No. 40

And what grilled cheese would be the same without the 26 ingredients that make Kraft Singles?

Dwight Eschliman / Via Ingredients: A Visual Exploration of 75 Additives & 25 Food Products

01 Whey

Skim Milk Cheese:

02 Skim milk; 03 Cheese culture; 04 Salt; 05 Enzymes;

06 Water; 07 Milk protein concentrate;

08 Sodium phosphate; 09 Dried corn syrup; 10 Salt; 11 Milk; 12 Whey protein concentrate; 13 Sodium hydroxide; 14 Lactic acid; 15 Sodium citrate; 16 Sorbic acid as a preservative; 17 Artificial color; 18 Cellulose gum; 19 Artificial flavor; 20 Carrageenan; 21 Disodium inosinate; 22 Cheese culture; 23 Vitamin A palmitate; 24 Enzymes; 25 Apocarotenal (color); 26 Annatto (color)

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.