Smith’s Chips Original – are they still original?

I recently shared with the Additive Free Kids Community a post reminding them to check their ingredients, even their old faithfuls, their go-to’s have to be checked.  If you haven’t seen the post, you can see it here

I brought to the Additive Free Kids community attention that Smith’s Chips – Original Flavour ingredients had recently changed.

I had been caught out again!

It still happens to me occasionally! I never would have expected the old faithful Smith’s chips to change!

I had noticed some very unusual behaviour in one of my youngest boys.

Behaviour that I had not seen in a  very long time.  Behaviour that had led me to investigate removing additives in the first place!

It has been a very trying few days let me tell you!

I am so THANKFUL that we avoid additives as part of our lifestyle.  It brought back home the exact reason why we cannot have them in our diet on a daily basis!!

Racking my brain to work out what had changed,  Had I introduced anything new?

Nope, nothing, nada!

There had to be something that hand changed.  I went back over the prior few days trying to work out had we had any packaged foods? The only one I could think of was the Smith’s Original Potato Chips. It couldn’t be! The ingredients were so simple and only three!

I went and started investigating (as I do!) and lo and behold, I realised that the ingredients had changed!


The new ingredients were: Potatoes, Canola Oil, Sunflower Oil, Salt, Antioxidants (Tocopherols, Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid), Rosemary Extract

There was a lot of comments on that facebook post.  Some common themes were:

“…citric and ascorbic acid are both used in wine and cooking to change acidity.  And rosemary extract from the herb to preserve the oil as well usually.  So not really nasty things I don’t think…”

“Most of those additives are just vitamins.  There’s nothing to be afraid of…”

“Calm down peeps.  Tocpherol = Vitamin E, Ascorbic Acid = Vitamin C, Citric acid = abundant in citrus fruits and naturally produced by the body”

The comments continued in this vain…

All the comments that I read perpetuated what manufacturers think – Citric acid an immediate association with citrus fruit.  Rosemary extract an immediate association with rosemary.  Sound natural, must be ok for us.

I know the Additive Free Kids Community are seeking a deeper understanding of why I am not happy with these additives being included with the humble Smith’s Original Chip.

Let’s look at the facts.

The ingredients of the Smith’s Original potato chips prior to the change was:

Potatoes, Sunflower Oil, Canola oil, salt

The ingredients since the change are:

Potatoes, Canola Oil, Sunflower Oil, Salt, Antioxidants (Tocopherols), Ascorbic acid, Citric acid), Rosemary extract

So let me take you through my thought process.

Looking at these ingredients immediately, this is what I can see.

For those that aren’t aware, the order of how the ingredients appear in an ingredient list is very important.

The first ingredient represents the largest component of the product and the last ingredient, the least.

This tells me that Smith’s have changed their oil mix around. Previously they used more sunflower oil than canola oil. Now it is the reverse. Often these changes can cause stability issues, especially when we are talking about oils in products.

It is my assumption that by making this change that Smith’s then need to stabilize the product and have felt the need to add additional additives. I hope to hear from Smith’s in the coming days as to the reason behind the change.

Regardless, whatever the reason, the fact remains that these new additives have been added to the product.


Let’s take a deeper look at what these so called vitamins and additives are that I wasn’t impressed with.


Tocopherols are an antioxidant.  They are added to food to help preserve them and assist with the oxidation of fat and oils in foods.  They are perceived to be a natural alternative to synthetic antioxidants such as BHT, BHA and TBHQ.

Tocopherols can be produced either by chemical synthesis or by extraction from maize, soy beans, cotton seed, rice or wheat germ oil.

Tocopherols as defined in Chemical Maze (Bill Statham) are:

306     Tocopherols, concentrate, mixed – Vitamin e, may be from wheat germ, rice germ, cotton-see or corn; may be Genetically modified

307     Alpha-Tocopherol – Alpha form of Vitamin E, may be produced by chemical synthesis, may be genetically modified

308     Gamma – Tocopherol – Gamma form of Vitamin E; may be produced by chemical synthesis; may be genetically modified

309     Delta – Tocopherol -Delta form of Vitamin E , may be synthetic, may be genetically modified

As you know, I haven’t heard back from Smith’s yet. I haven’t been able to ask them any questions regarding the ingredients used.

The reality is I don’t know which Tocopherols have been used, whether they are natural or synthetic.

What we need to understand is that most of the vitamins that you will find on store shelves and those used to fortify out food are synthetic.

We need to understand the difference between natural vitamins and synthetic vitamins.

In nature, vitamins always come with a complex with co-factors and co-enzymes. They never come as one fractionated part of a vitamin. Research has shown that the human body strongly discriminates between natural and synthetic Vitamin E.

I had so many comments on the Facebook post commenting – why are you complaining that the potato chips have been fortified with vitamins?

I prefer to get my vitamins from food that are present in their whole complex state, that my body knows how to use. Not fractionated vitamins, not synthetic vitamins.

Given the price point of Smith’s chips, my money is on tocopherols are synthetically produced.

I look forward to hearing the facts either way when I hear back from Smith’s.

Citric acid and ascorbic acid

Vitamins can be called natural even if they have been made in a laboratory.

Vitamin C is usually made in a factory or lab from starch and is the result of a two step fermentation process.

As starch is natural, the vitamin can be called natural. However, it hasn’t come from oranges or lemons as most people presume. Scientists will argue that the starch based Vitamin C and the orange juice Vitamin C are the same.

They appear to have the same molecular structure. The biochemists will argue that vitamin C in animals is made from carbohydrates anyway and that the product is clinically effective.

The actual molecular construction process is NOT the same.

A new study on Vitamin C (Am J Clin Nutr; Jan 2008) showed adults taking the synthetic version of Vitamin C had serious side effects.

Dose of 1,000 mg of Vitamic C a day impaired their energy systems, specifically weakening the mitochondria of the cell and significant adverse effects on the antioxidant system.  Children are usually more vulnerable.

Chemical Maze defines Citric acid as:

“330 – Citric acid – is usually made by the fermentation of molasses by Aspergillus niger or from corn. It may contain MSG or free glutamic acid if made from corn, may be Genetically modified – as defined in Chemical Maze. “

Aspergillus niger is a type of mould, a strain of black mould.

It is much cheaper to produce it this way than natural version.

The mould culture is then fed sugar solutions which are often derived from corn.

Many people that react to foods containing citric acid could be sensitive to the mould or the corn used to produce the acid.

Citric acid symptoms can include:

  • mouth ulcers or rashes
  • gastrointestinal problems like abdominal pain, bloating or diarrhea
  • swelling of the mouth or throat
  • headaches

My children are sensitive to citric acid, having suffered with mouth ulcers, rashes and abdominal pain.  I have had similar reports from my clients in the past.

This is why I choose to avoid Citric acid and recommend that others do to, especially if they are sensitive to MSG.

Chemical Maze defines Ascorbic acid as:

“300 – Ascorbic acid – may be synthetic or from glucose, may be genetically modified. “

For some individuals they may experience diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or abdominal cramps / pain.

A pretty benign additive, however I still prefer to obtain my vitamins from nature, not synthetically produced.

Rosemary extract

Rosemary extract sounds very natural.

Most consumers believe it is just rosemary or just derived from rosemary.

As Joanna Blythman (author of Swallow This) states, rosemary extract is a clean label for the antioxidant butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hyrdroxytolulene (BHT) also known as 320 and 321

Numbers that the Additive Free Kids community would recognise, know well and seek to avoid.


BHA and BHT are antioxidants that are petroleum derived and can result in the following potential effects:

  • asthma
  • insomnia
  • fatigue
  • chronic uticaria (hives)
  • prohibited in foods for infants
  • aggressive behaviour
  • migraines
  • suspected carcinogen

Definitely not something I would like my children ingesting with their potato chips.

Rosemary extract has had huge growth with many healthier food labels opting to use it.  The additive provides them with the preservation function it is looking for and at the same time gives the consumers confidence that it sounds natural.

Not the case I am afraid.

I learned this one the hard way with my children also.

I hope this helps the members in our Additive Free Kids Community to understand why I would seek to avoid these ingredients.

Why were these additives added?  I can’t answer that at the moment.

I look forward to updating you when I hear back from Smith’s

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