Reading food labels – the order of things
Ingredients on food labels are required to be listed in order from the most used to the least used. This means that the first item on the list will be the major ingredient according to weight.
It’s a great tip to keep in mind because if the first ingredient on the label is a scientific, unpronounceable item then the likelihood that food is going to be healthy is vastly reduced.
Be aware, however, that manufacturers are not required to list ingredients that constitute less than 5% of the total amount and also be mindful that compound ingredients (like a fragrance or colour) only need to be listed as the compound and not the individual components that make it. Chemical nasties such as bad food additives can slip in quite legally under these rules.
Many harmful antioxidants are also not listed on labels as they are contained in a fat or oil. So any label that lists an animal fat, palm oil, milk solids, copha, vegetable oil, lard or shortening, just to name a few, will most likely also contain an antioxidant that could be harmful or worse, carcinogenic. Antioxidants 310, 319, 320 are especially to be avoided although those in the range 306-309 are okay.
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Lindy Schneider is a writer and researcher with a keen interest in health, wellbeing and natural childcare. She is an advocator of a chemical-free lifestyle in the best interests of her family, the community and a sustainable world. She lives in the Yarra Valley with her partner and two young children.