The book by Mats-Eric Nilsson - Den hemlige kocken (The secret cook) - gives a very scary and up-to-date telling of how the food industry of today feeds us with the worst possible crap they can manage to sell. In general everything is done in order to save money. For the producers. If this was known to all, the market would sure look different!
I'll try to condense what he says into a format that is manageable:
The first chapter is about companies specialized in making products making food taste as it should do. Yeah, it's just as screwed up as it sounds. The modern food industry is so industrialized that what comes out of it has to be faked in order to even resemble food. Special ingredients to make the beef taste and look like it was grilled. Colours to give the food the right look. Taste enhancers to get the tiny remains of real ingredient to taste enough.
In fact, there are so many phony things they add to food, just listing them makes me sick of it. So I won't. But there are chemical solutions to alter everything - shape, taste, texture, sweetness, smell. If you really care exactly what, please get this book or an equivalent. Otherwise you could stick to my simple rules for food that I've listed on this blog already.
What I find interesting is why these problems exist at all. Why don't the governments stop this? A few simple rules are all that is needed! Of course you can blame it on the customers, as usual. "But the customers buy this and that so obviously there is a market." "But the people buy this and that, why would they not be allowed to?"
This is making things far too simple. The problem is that nobody can know what kind of crap there is in the food, because there is simply too much of it! But why? Why does the consumer buy light mayonnaise even though it's not possible to make a light mayonnaise? Because there is one! Somebody that likes mayonnaise but is concerned about her intake of fat, will of course be delighted to see a light mayonnaise! Which is why the market provides the product, no matter what. It doesn't matter that it's filled with chemicals but still doesn't taste like a proper mayonnaise. The producer wants to sell and the customer wants to have it, wants to believe it's just as good but far more healthy. The only way to stop this is for the government to step in and say that using all these chemicals is not ok. Or, as with some other products, say that a "mayonnaise" must include this and that and nothing else. I'm sorry, but I can't see any other solution than government regulation, in order to save its citizens.
Because that's the point - this ignorance is a threat to our health. Light products make us fat. Chemicals making sweets colourful makes my skin burst out with pimples and can cause allergies and even worse side effects in big doses. The animal food industry is stressing animals to death. And whatever we do as consumers, this won't stop. But for your own sake - eat healthy!