Icecream Tests

Reporter: Helen Wellings

18 litres per head a year - Australians so love their ice cream, one scoop is never quite big enough! But food scientist Gary Kennedy says many mass produced varieties can be chemical concoctions from 1,400 different additives ... far removed from nature. Just wait til you hear what they are! And coming up ... our tests reveal how much you pay simply for AIR mixed into ice creams ... up to 40% in certain brands.

Icecream in a supermarket is made by a scientist, it's made to a formula and it is produced in a factory." Said Gary Kennedy

Vanilla ice cream's traditional ingredients are cream, eggs, sugar, gelatine, vanilla bean, and that's what some specialty ice cream makers, like Sarah Mandelson of Serendipity stick to.

"Our caramel comes from our kitchen, it's burnt sugar, salt and a little bit of cream. And that's it." Said Sarah Mandelson

But for mass consumption, some icecreams and iceblocks contain preservatives potentially dangerous for some, and most have a raft of numbers, artificial flavours and colours. Some, like Calippos are made in China.

"Emulsifiers, stabilisers, humectants, they will contain artificial flavours, artificial colours, there will be ingredients with numbers, long names, you will find maltodextrin, Xanthum gum." Said Gary Kennedy

Manufacturers don't have to state whether colours and flavours are natural or NOT...and from WHERE they've come.... "But they say it is all transparent and that all ingredients are clearly marked on the labels."

"If you are looking on any icecream label and it says "flavour" you have no idea whether the flavour has come out of a laboratory or a factory or out of a fruit. In fact it could have come out of anything at all. It could have come out of COAL or petroleum." Said Gary Kennedy

True - . Almost all artificial colours and flavours come from COAL TAR!

Artificial VANILLA flavour, as opposed to natural vanilla from pureed vanilla beans or vanilla extract, is from piperonal used to kill lice or vanillin from wood pulp waste. NUT flavour is butraldehyde, an ingredient in rubber cement. STRAWBERRY flavour is benzyl acetate, a nitrate solvent which can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.

"COCHINEL is made from the backs of beetles, Annatto is made from a pod of a plant that is not grown in Australia beet red is an extract of beetroot juice." Said Gary Kennedy

Some manufacturers, and Aldis, Coles and Woolworths own brands have CUT OUT artificial colours and flavours.. because colours like 102, Tartrazine, may cause hyperactivity, headaches, asthma; 110 Sunset Yellow, 123 and 124 can also have nasty side-effects.

If the label states "natural", it must be from nature.... but when it just states "flavour" ..

"It is almost probable that none of those flavours are natural or else this would say NATURAL on it. So it likely that chocolate flavour, vanilla flavour strawberry flavour they have never been anywhere near cocoa, a vanilla pod, or a strawberry." Said Gary Kennedy

Sharon Natoli, Dietitian, of Food and Nutrition Australia says the amount of cream or milk fat can vary from 10% to very creamy 50%, with saturated fat up to 10% in rich creamy ice creams, up to 13% in biscuit-icecreams. But generally the more fat, the less sugar... Weight-Watchers ice cream has the most sugar.

"A high sugar icecream would be 20% or over so look for icecreams under 20 per cent." Said Sharon Natoli

And how MUCH ice cream do you get for your money.. we did the melt test for these 2 litre tubs and this 1 litre one... sieved the liquid and froth on top, then measured the contents.

When they melt a froth forms on the top like a meringe so we have to seive the contents and measure what we have left .. We've lost 300ml."

Connoisseur shrank the least 40mls, Coles and Streets lost 200 mls, Peters and Aldi's Monarc 250ml, Woolworths 300, Bulla Lite 400 mls, Cadbury Creamy Vanilla lost the most, 750mls ... just 1.2 litres left from a 2 litre tub.

"If it has been whipped amy contain 50% or great of air. So effectively you are paying ice cream price for air." Said Gary Kennedy

But manufacturers say whipped-in air gives the smooth, creamy texture that people love.


* Serendipity Ice Creams

* Food Standards Australia and New Zealand

* Food Intolerence Network