Dr. Thomas Dwan - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Thomas Dwan

Is A.1. Sauce Bad For You?

Also Known As: A.1. Steak Sauce (former name)



Short answer

A1 steak sauce is not bad for you IF you use only one serving at a time. Overconsuming A1, however, can pose many serious health risks on the body.



Long answer

A1 Original Sauce is a zesty steak sauce developed in the mid-1800s by the food company, Kraft. It has become a staple of steak eaters, both in homes and restaurants. The smooth brownish-red sauce adds a distinct salty and tangy flavor that perfectly complements beef.

The base ingredient is tomato puree, and subsequent ingredients include water, tomato paste, vinegar, corn syrup, salt, raisin paste, crushed orange puree, spices, dried garlic, caramel color, dried onions, potassium sorbate, xanthan gum, and celery seed.

A1 sauce is low in calories, with only 15 calories for a one-tablespoon serving. However, that same tablespoon contains 280 mg of sodium, more than 10% of the maximum recommended daily value. Excessive sodium intake can lead to serious health concerns, such as hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease, dehydration, and water retention.

Though corn syrup is always a red flag, the corn syrup in A1 Original Sauce adds two grams of sugar (derived from corn syrup) in one tablespoon serving. This amount of sugar increases, however, in other flavors of A1 steak sauce. Kraft makes eight varieties of steak sauce and three varieties of A1 rubs. Some of the other steak sauces include high fructose corn syrup, which goes directly to the liver and revs up the amount of enzymes that store fat. This result of high fructose corn syrup has linked it to type II Diabetes, obesity, and tooth decay.

The rich caramel color added to create A1’s famous reddish brown tone is an artificial food coloring. There are decades of research studies divulging the correlation between artificial dyes and negative side effects. In comparison to other dyes, most caramel colors have a significantly lower toxicity risk than other artificial colors. However, there are four caramel dye colors. The two of the caramel dyes contain a carcinogenic by-product called 4-methylimidazole (4-Mel.) The byproduct is formed when the sugar in the caramel reacts with ammonia compounds (Caramel III) or a combination of ammonia compounds and sulfites (Caramel IV.) Unfortunately, Kraft does not specify which caramel coloring they use; they simply use “caramel color” on the A1 label. This byproduct is typically more of a concern in larger amounts, such as in soda—unless you plan to douse your steak with a whole bottle of A1.

The lengthy shelf life of A1 is a result of the preservative, potassium sorbate. This form of sorbic acid is synthetically produced to prevent the growth or spread of bacteria and fungi. This does not sound too bad when you picture the multiple bottles of A1 sitting on tables shared among numerous customers in the steakhouses—or even pushed to the back corner of your refrigerator to be pulled out every few months. Though labeled as a “safe ingredient”, multiple studies on potassium sorbate continue to prove that it is destructive to the human DNA. The toxicity caused within the DNA can reduce immunity, especially when combined with other common culinary agents. Some people may also have allergic reactions to the preservative, though it may be difficult to isolate since it is found so frequently in foods and dietary supplements.

A1 contains xanthan gum, to help prevent separation and add body to the liquid. This thickening substance is found in many sauces, dressings, and condiments. Though the ingredient is generally safe for use, large amounts of xanthan gum can cause digestive discomfort, bloating, or diarrhea. Xanthan gum has a great probability of allergic reaction, since it is derived from common allergens: dairy, soy, wheat, or corn.

A1 sauce is not ideal for regular use, but it not problematic to enjoy the condiment on an occasional steak. Just remember not to exceed the serving size of one tablespoon, as the sodium and sugar content is too high for over indulgence.

Possible short-term side effects

  • digestive discomfort
  • allergic reactions
  • dehydration
  • water retention

Possible long-term side effects

  • hypertension
  • heart disease
  • diabetes ii
  • obesity
  • tooth decay
  • cancer
  • a reduction in immunity

Ingredients to be aware of

Big is a1 steak sauce bad for you 2


  • gluten free

Healthier alternatives (what is this?)

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Written by DeeAnne Oldham | 04-11-2016

Written by DeeAnne Oldham
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