February 17, 2014

Label Madness Monday: Funky Hash (No, not *that* hash!)

In the words of The Bangles, “It’s just another manic Monday.” So here we are, another week, and another label. Considering that one of my recent posts (about the large intestine) was longer than a blog post has any right to be, I’ll keep this one kind of short. What are we serving up today? That breakfast staple, that complete meal-in-one, that mix of protein, fat, and carbohydrate that any short order cook worth his salt could cook in his sleep: roast beef hash!

This one was interesting to me because I’ve eaten something quite similar at work on occasion. My non-nutrition “other” work, that is—the one that takes place at that funky five-sided building in Arlington, Virginia. (Yeah, that’s right. Five sides. That makes it a pentagon, for those of you who flunked 4th grade geometry.) I’d say nine days out of ten, I bring my own breakfast and lunch. Once in a while, though, whether I’m pressed for time or just not in the mood to prepare something to bring with me, I end up buying breakfast. All things considered, I’m pretty lucky. There are a ton of different food options inside said five-sided building, ranging from McDonald’s (where I’m obviously not going) to made-to-order omelets with fresh vegetables, meats, and cheese. For issues of time and budget, I usually stick to the cafeteria-style, serve yourself buffet they’ve got going on. 

They put out a pretty nice spread for breakfast. Of course, being on the low-carb side and about 85% Paleo, most of the offerings are off-limits. (Think pancakes, grits, biscuits, and French toast sticks.) But they have a few trays of more suitable options, like sausages, scrambled eggs, and ham slices. (I suspect the eggs are reconstituted from dried, powdered eggs. This makes me a little squeamish, but I have to admit, I do eat them now and then. I know oxidized cholesterol is pretty horrible, but I’m not sure if consuming it pre-formed has the same health effects as when our own endogenous cholesterol is oxidized inside us. Either way, given a choice between the hard boiled eggs on offer and the questionable powdered eggs, I’ll be honest with ya: I live on the edge and choose the dodgy stuff. They just suck all life out of the hard boiled, is all. Dry as a bone. The whites could double as shoe insoles and the yolks could pass for beach sand. Its culinary murder, I tell ya. Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert would have some choice words for those cooks, Im sure. But I digress...)

One thing that looks fairly benign is the corned beef hash. Or maybe it’s roast beef. I’m not sure. All I know is, it’s pretty much just tiny cubes of beef with potatoes (rehydrated), maybe some salt and pepper. And it’s pretty yummy. Unfortunately, as seems to be the case with anything we don’t prepare in our own kitchens these days, it was too good to be true. I’m not sure of the exact ingredients in the beef hash at work, but it looks pretty much the same as the picture on the can here:

And the reason this worries me is because I can only assume the ingredients are similar as well. So let’s take a look at those ingredients, shall we?

Do I even have to say it? You already know what I’m thinking. Now, I realize that these extremely funky and questionable ingredients make up “2% or less” of the contents of this can, but so what? Why do they make up any percentage? Why are there corn, soy, and wheat proteins in roast beef hash at all, for crying out loud? And of course, that 2% or less does not include the soy flour listed as the fourth ingredient. OY VEY.

As always, folks, this just goes to show that what we see often isn’t what we get. We need to read labels on everything, even seemingly straightforward things like this. Like Ive said before, nothing is sacred. Shop and eat at your own risk.

Remember: Amy Berger, M.S., NTP, is not a physician and Tuit Nutrition, LLC, is not a medical practice. The information contained on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical condition.


  1. Love the Label Madness Monday posts!!

  2. Soy and corn are everywhere!!! I am definitely more label conscious after reading this series!

    1. First, thanks for the feedback! :) And if this is the "TM" I think it is, you don't need to worry when you're in France, only back in the U.S. The reason there's wheat, corn, and soy fractions in everything here is because we subsidize those "commodity crops," so it's SUPER CHEAP for food processors to use them as raw materials, instead of real food. :-/ Europeans as a whole, I think, value their food traditions way too much to ever let that happen over there.