Your chewing gum likely contains a secret main ingredient – PLASTIC! It’s not listed on the ingredients label because the FDA allows manufacturers to call it “gum base!”
Ever wonder why chewing gum lasts and lasts and lasts without dissolving in your mouth? The answer is it’s made of plastic.
In the olden days, chewing gum was made from tree sap or beeswax.
The ancient Greeks chewed the resin of the mastic tree. The Mayans chewed chicle, a natural rubber derived from the sap from the sapodilla. North American natives chewed sap from spruce trees and passed the habit along to the settlers.
But after World War II, chemists learned to make a synthetic rubber from polyvinyl acetate, which eventually replaced natural rubber in almost every brand of chewing gum.
Polyvinyl acetate is a type of plastic manufactured from a chemical called vinyl acetate, which causes cancer tumors in lab rats, according to the International Agency for Reasearch on Cancer.
Vinyl acetate is also used to produce paints, coatings, adhesives, wires and cables and safety glass.
In 2008, the Canadian government was so concerned about the use of vinyl acetate in chewing gum, it added it to a list of substances to be scheduled for “virtual elimination” because of its toxicity to the environment. But industry pressure forced regulators to back down.
The Environmental Protection Agency has since added it to a list of “extremely hazardous substances” in the United States.
Still, it is the main ingredient of almost all the gum we chew. And, worst of all, you won’t find it on the list of ingredients!
According to the FDA, all of the following secret ingredients can be included under the ingredient “gum base”:
“Petroleum, lanolin, glycerin, polyethylene, polyvinyl acetate, petroleum wax, stearic acid, or latex.”
Wow… bet you never realized you were chewing on petroleum and latex!
Luckily, there are a few brands of delicious “plastic-free” gum: Simply Gum, Glee Gum, Chicza: