- Meat and Poultry
- Fish and Shellfish
- Cream and Cream Products
- Eggs and Egg Whites
- Ice Cream
- Dairy Spreads
- Fruit, Fruit Products
- Sauces, Dressing, and Dips
- Condiments, Herbs & Spices, Spreads
- Ingredients for Cooking
- Prepared Foods
- Bakery Goods and Sweets
- Grains, Pasta, and Cereal
- FAQs on Bacteria
- What are bacteria?
- How can I avoid getting sick from a bacterial illness?
- How dangerous is a staph infection?
- Can I assume that if food smells bad its unsafe to eat and if it smells ok that it is safe to eat?
- How dangerous is botulism?
- How dangerous is listeria?
- How many types of bacteria are there?
- What foods are likely to be contaminated by listeria?
- What foods can give a person a staph infection?
- What foods can give a person botulism?
- Why do some bacteria make people sick?
- Why does refrigeration keep bacteria from multiplying?
- Can I avoid all contact with bacteria if I’m careful?
- How Many Bacteria Does It Take to Cause Illness?
- FAQs on Cookware
- Are Ceramic and Enamel Cookware Safe and Practical?
- Are Nonstick Coatings on Cookware a Health Risk?
- Do Cast Iron, Glass, Copper, and Titanium Cookware Have Any Disadvantages?
- Does Using Aluminum Cookware Increase the Chances of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease?
- Is Stainless Steel Cookware a Good Choice?
- Is the New Silicone Rubberized Cookware Safe?
- Nonstick Cookware: Is it Dangerous?
- What Brands of Cookware are Recommended by Experts?
- What Features Should I Look for When Selecting Cookware?
- What Should I Know about Selecting and Using Aluminum Cookware?
- FAQs about Definitions
- Exactly what is meant by the phrase perishable food?
- Defining Some Current Language about Food
- What Does the Word “Foodie” Mean? It Depends Who(m) You Ask
- What do “sell by,” “best by/before,” “use by” and “expiration” mean?
- What does the term shelf life mean?
- What's in Our Food? Maybe Processing Aids, Maybe not
- “Fresh,” “Natural,” “Processed”—What Do These Words Mean?
- FAQs on Dropped Food
- FAQs on Farmers' Markets
- Exactly what defines a farmers’ market?
- Farmers' Markets: Why They're So Popular; How to Find One Near Your Home
- How should I handle produce at home?
- What foods are sold with restrictions at a farmers’ market?
- What should I bring to the farmers’ market?
- What shouldn’t I do or eat at a farmers’ market?
- What signs indicate a sanitary farmers’ market?
- What time of day is it best to go to a farmers’ market?
- FAQs on Food-borne Illness and Mishandling of Food
- About how many cases of food-borne illness occur in the U.S. each year?
- Answer Key to “How Much Do You Know about Safe Handling of Food?”
- How Much Do You Know about Safe Handling of Food?
- I Left It Out Too Long! Can I Still Eat It?
- Should Your Grocery Card Track Food-Borne Illnesses?
- Sudden, Awful Intestinal Distress--Is it the Flu or a Foodborne Illness--or Both?
- What YOU Can Do to Avoid Food-borne Illness
- What does the phrase food-borne illness refer to?
- FAQs on Food Product Dating
- Are stores required, by law, to remove outdated items from their shelves?
- Do most consumers actually pay attention to the dating on foods?
- Does the “use by” date matter once the product is frozen?
- Is information on food longevity and safety available by phone?
- What are expiration dates?
- What do the terms closed dating and open dating mean?
- What if there is no date on a product, and I don’t remember if I bought it a month ago or ten years ago?
- What should consumers know about food product dating?
- When Did You Buy It? When Did You Open It?
- When to Throw Food Out? Not on the Use-By Date
- Who establishes these product dates?
- Who requires and regulates dating on foods?
- Why do “best by” and “use by” dates sometimes seem conservative?
- FAQs on Food Safety
- "Is It Safe To….?" FAQs Answered by our Advisory Board
- FAQs about Ground Beef, Seasonings, Olive Oil, Lemon Wedges, and Fish
- FAQs about Mushrooms: Are they Very Dirty or Very Clean?
- FAQs about Soft Cheeses--What's Safe, What Isn't
- FAQs on BPA: the attacks continue, but are they justified?
- FAQs on Food Safety and Nutrition
- FAQs on Raw Fruits and Veggies—the Answers Can Protect Your Wallet and Your Health
- FAQs: Cutting Boards and Kitchen Counters--Selection and Care
- Food Bars/Buffets in Supermarkets--Is the food safe? How can you tell?
- Food/Meat Thermometers—What You Need to Know
- How Long Should Cheese Be Aged? Will the Rules Be Changed?
- How Long Will They REALLY Last? Part I: Non-perishables
- How Long Will They REALLY last? Part II: Perishables
- Imported Foods—What’s Safe, What’s Risky?
- Is It Safe? Is It Nutritious? More Survey Answers from Scientists
- Is It Time to Switch to Pasteurized Eggs?
- Is the Food Safety Modernization Act Making Our Food Supply Safer?
- More FAQs about Minimum Safe Cooking Temperatures: Pork and Other Perishables
- Sushi: Why Such a Short Shelf Life?
- Winter Food Storage—Can I leave It in the Car or in the Garage?
- Would You—Should You—Do You--Eat Irradiated Food?
- FAQs on Food Wrapping
- Are any plastic wraps or containers really “microwave safe”?
- Are some plastic wraps more effective than others?
- Can I refrigerate meat and poultry in its store wrapping?
- Can I use plastic freezer bags to store produce in the fridge?
- Can chemicals leach unto food from plastic wrap or containers?
- Do coated plastic bags really help produce last longer?
- Does aluminum foil give foods a metallic taste?
- Does exposure to aluminum cause Alzheimer’s disease?
- Everything You Need to Know about Wrapping Food Right
- How should fruits be wrapped before refrigeration?
- Is it safe to use aluminum foil in a microwave oven?
- Should I wrap raw vegetables loosely or tightly before refrigerating?
- What are some advantages and disadvantages of aluminum foil?
- What produce needs to be wrapped before refrigerating?
- What’s better for wrapping food—plastic or aluminum foil?
- Why does foil sometimes darken, discolor, and leave black specks on food?
- Will a foil cover help keep foods on the table hot or cold?
- FAQs on Freezing Food
- FAQs on Leftovers
- FAQs on Mold
- What is mold?
- Does mold ever grow on nonperishable food?
- Can I remove a moldy part from food and eat the rest?
- About how many different kinds of molds are there?
- How can I avoid getting mold on my refrigerated food?
- Is mold always visible?
- Are any molds harmless?
- What food groups are most susceptible to mold?
- What kinds of illnesses can result from eating moldy food?
- What kind of packaging protects foods from mold?
- What other safety tips will help prevent mold from growing?
- Why are some molds dangerous?
- FAQs on Organic Food
- What Is Organic Food?
- Are Organic Methods More Humane to Animals?
- Does Conventional Food Have a Longer Shelf Life Than Organic?
- Does Organic Food Taste Better than Conventional Food?
- Is Organic Food More Nutritious Than Conventional Food?
- Is Organically Grown Food Better for the Environment?
- What Do the Various Organic Labels Mean?
- What Important Contributions Has the Organic Movement Made?
- Which Are Safer: Organic or Conventional Food Products?
- Will Organic Baby Food Make Baby Healthier?
- FAQs on Oxidation: How It Affects Foods
- FAQs about Plastic Products Used with Food
- Pyrex® Glassware: Is it safe to use?
- Are plastic bags safe to use in the microwave?
- Are some plastic wraps safer and/or more effective than others?
- Are there any health risks from reusing plastic water bottles by refilling them with tap water?
- Are we eating chemicals from plastics along with our food?
- Can I microwave food in my plastic containers?
- Does the plastic used in water bottles pose a health risk?
- If I heat food in an open can, will that cause the plastic lining to leach chemicals into the food?
- Is it safe to heat frozen entrées in their plastic containers and with their plastic wrap?
- Is it safe to use plastic wrap as a covering when microwaving food?
- Is it safe to wash and dry plastic plates, cups, containers, and utensils in the dishwasher?
- Is there good evidence that BPA is harmful to human health?
- Of the plastic products used to store, heat, or eat with (wraps, bags, containers, silverware, plates, etc.), which contain BPA?
- What is BPA?
- Why is so much of today’s food packaged in plastic?
- FAQs on Preservatives
- What are Preservatives?
- All things considered, is our food supply safer or less safe because of preservatives?
- Are the preservatives in hot dogs and similar products health risks?
- What preservatives are known to cause allergic reactions?
- What are some common preservatives used in food?
- What food groups commonly have preservatives in them?
- Why are preservatives added to food?
- Will the label on the product tell me if it contains a preservative?
- FAQs on Washing Produce: Why and How
- Other FAQs
- Can chicken soup really cure a cold?
- Is Chocolate Good For You?
- Can Science and Technology Help You Save Food Dollars?
- FAQs Answered By Our Board Scientists: on Chickens, Bananas, Old Salad Dressing, and More
- FAQs about Food Price Increases
- FAQs about Products We Use with Food
- FAQs about Shelf Life: Tortillas, Pancakes, Wine, and More
- Food Fraud: Are you paying for scallops and getting shark meat?
- Is Cheese Addictive? Only If You Eat It
- Missing Chickens: Where Have All the Small Ones Gone?
- Nine FAQs about Food Labels
- Quiz Yourself! Check Your Knowledge about Food Temperatures
- Scientists Answer Two FAQs about Egg Safety
- Should Sour Cream and Cottage Cheese Be Stored Upside Down?
- Some Shelf Life Info, General and Specific (Spirits, Defrosted Veggies, Green Tea, and More)
- Syrup from a Tree or from a Lab--Which Should You Pour on Your Pancakes?
- Ten FAQs about the Prickly Pineapple
- What's New in Food? IFT Expo Offers Tasty Innovations
- What's on the Menu in Cuba?
- What’s in My Water? Answers to FAQs
- What will you be dining on this year? Here are predictions from folks in the know
- FAQs on Bacteria
- Books: Food for Thought
- Food Safety
- It Says "Use By Tomorrow," But You Don't Have To
- Ten Tips for Consumer Food Safety
- Food Allergies: Recognizing and Controlling Them
- “Is It Spoiled?” When in Doubt, Check It Out
- How To Keep Your Cooler Cool
- Recent Recalls: Salmonella Threatens 100s of Products
- STOP! Don’t Rinse That Raw Chicken!
- Sous Vide—A Better Way to Cook?
- Why You Need a Safe Cooking Temperature Chart and How to Get One Right Now
- “Myth-information” about Food Safety: You’d Better Not Believe It
- After The Storm: What You Can Save and What You Must Throw Out
- How to Protect Your Food During a Power Outage
- Meet Your Beef--Via Bar Code Info
- Organic Food, GMOs, the Safety of American Food, the Value of Use-By Dates, and More--Scientists Tell Us What They Think
- Raw chicken, Leftovers, Deli Meats, and More-- What Surveyed Scientists Said
- Tips About 4 Popular Beverages: Wine, Coffee, Water, and Soda
- Tips on Reheating for Safe, Yummy Leftovers
- Tips on Water Safety During and After a Storm
- Introducing our Advisory Board Scientists
- Produce: Handling Tips
- Seasonal Tips
- A Novel Method for Cooking a Turkey
- Crock Pot Cooking Tips for that Ideal Winter Dinner
- Cucumbers: for Cool--and "Cool"--Summer Treats
- Going Away for All or Part of the Winter? Prepare Your Kitchen for your Absence
- How To Grill Safely During the Summer
- How do summer squash and winter squash differ?
- New Year’s Resolutions For a Safer Kitchen
- Preserve the Taste of Summer by Canning—But Do It Safely
- Summer Food Fests Offer Much More than Calories
- Summer Party Tips: Baby Carrots (Using for Dips) Hot Dogs (Ditching the Guilt), and Watermelon (Finding a Ripe One)
- Tailgating: How to Do It Right
- Tips on Keeping Your Summer Fruits Flavorful and Healthy
- Shelf Life Tips
- A Food App You're Apt to Like; A Brand-New Invention for Getting Shelf-Life Information
- Battling the Ripening of Bananas
- Food Preservation--Low-tech Past, High-Tech Present and Future
- From Purchase to Storage, Tips on Extending Shelf Life
- Pesto: Ingredients, Uses, Shelf Life, Contamination, and More
- Shelf Life of Foods: What You Need to Know
- Shellfish and Shelf Life Aid from the Canadian Maritime Provinces
- Tips for Carry-along Lunches for Work and School
- Tips for Freezing Food and Freezer Care
- Cooking Frozen Foods
- Freezers And Food Safety
- Freezers And Freezer Burn
- Freezers And Nutrient Retention
- How Often Should You Defrost And Clean Your Freezer?
- How To Defrost And Clean Your Freezer
- How To Defrost Frozen Foods
- How To Freeze Foods: The Quicker The Better
- How To Wrap Foods For The Freezer
- Refreezing Frozen Foods
- What You Can Freeze And What You Can't--Or Shouldn't
- Tips About Genetically Engineered Foods
- Tips for Grocery Shopping
- Tips for Holidays
- Answers to Questions about Thanksgiving Dinner
- Chocolate Is Even More Healthful Than You Thought
- Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day Without Cabbage Stink
- Everything You Need to Know about Cranberry Sauce
- Food-Related Gifts Recommended by Experts (2014)
- Halloween Treats Even Parents Will Love
- Kitchen Gifts that Really Please
- Kitchen Gifts that Really Work
- Our 2016 List of Gifts To Please Every Cook
- Spring Celebrations: What’s on Your Menu?
- Suggestions for Handling Your Child’s “Trick or Treat” Treasures
- Tips for Winter Holiday Meals
- What NOT to Do With Thanksgiving Dinner
- Yikes! The Turkey Is Done, But the Guests Are Delayed! How Do I Keep My Thanksgiving Dinner Warm?
- Tips on Kitchen Equipment
- Tips for Refrigerating Food and Refrigerator Care
- Food Safety Facts
- How To Clean The Refrigerator
- How To Wrap Foods For Refrigeration
- How long can a pie be left unrefrigerated?
- Power Outage? Here’s What to Do with All That Food in the Fridge
- Proper Handling Of Produce In The Crisper(s)
- Proper Refrigeration Placement Of Raw Meat, Chicken, And Fish
- Six Tips for Extending the Shelf Life of Foods
- What Can and Can't Go In The Fridge Door
- Other Tips
- Microwave Cooking
- The 10 Most Dangerous Foods To Consume While Driving
- Are Your Kids Home Alone after School? Educate Them about Snacking
- Clever Inventions That Can Change Eating Habits
- Coffee, Juice, and Food in Central America
- Eggies™ to the Rescue?
- Ever Eaten “Glued” Food?
- Food Definitions: Umami, Locavore, Fruit, Heirloom, and Artisan
- Hot Dogs: What You Should Know about Them
- If You Don't Know Beans about Beans...
- In Defense of Processed Food
- Kids and Cooking: A Good Combo
- New Uses for Old Food: Try 'Em Out!
- Organic Farming and Organic Food: What Are the Benefits?
- Our Board Scientists Talk about 2015 Food Trends
- Portabella Mushrooms and Their Relatives: How to Handle Them
- Ten Exotic Fruits: Novel Treats to Drink and Eat
- Tips on Fishing and on Selecting Healthful Fish
- Tips on Making Food Appealing, Food Safety and BPA (again)
- Tofu: Water Regularly, Consume Promptly
- Want to get some/all of your protein from plants? We'll tell you what's tasty
- What This Site Is All About and How to Navigate It
- What We're Eating This Year: Ancient Grains, Coconut Oil, Kale, and More
- About Us
- In the News
Nine FAQs about Food Labels
“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” we’ve been advised since childhood. But how about judging a food by its label? Food labels are cluttered with information, in both big print and small, intended to both inform you and entice you to buy. Some of it is accurate, complete, and useful; some may, at times, be incorrect, misleading, and even deliberately deceptive. Does the government make any effort to keep labels honest? Is the nutritional information correct? In the Q/As below, two scientists on our Advisory Board and many other reliable sources provide answers to some key questions.
But first, a piece of advice: heed the saying that says “Buyer beware.” If you have the eyesight of a senior citizen, bring your reading glasses and a lightweight plastic magnifier with you to the supermarket so you can read the list of ingredients. The small print will give you a better idea of the content than any big, bold claims about low-fat and antioxidants.
Now, a warning: heed the packaging advice on handling a product whether it needs refrigeration, what temperature it should be cooked or heated to, how long to keep it, and so on. (Also, use the Shelf Life Advice data on specific products to find out about proper care of specific foods.)
1. What do the federal government and the food industry do (and/or plan to do) so that food labeling actually helps consumers buy nutritious food?
Food scientist Dr. Karin Allen provides this reassuring information: “The FDA takes food labeling very seriously. There are laws related to everything from the kinds of health claims that can be made, to the information that must be included on every label, to the size of the font that can be used in the Nutrition Facts Panel! Also, the FDA considers any off-label information to be an “extension” of the food label – including signs placed in grocery stores, brochure/recipe card handouts, and websites. Warning letters are regularly issued to companies that violate FDA laws, and the Federal Trade Commission scrutinizes all advertising as well.” However, food scientist Dr. Joe Regenstein points this out: “Unfortunately resources are limited and some aspects of economic fraud are not always followed up by FDA.”
The July 2011 issue of Consumer Reports on Health says that efforts to improve labeling are underway on two fronts. The FDA is developing a labeling system that, the magazine says, “will make selecting food quick and simple.” Moreover, the food industry has initiated a “nutrition key” labeling program that emphasizes calories, saturated fat, and sodium on the front of many products. Still, the magazine advises consumers to do these two things: read the nutrition box and pay close attention to serving sizes (which are often determined by the FDA). The serving size on Ben and Jerry’s chocolate fudge brownie ice cream is ½ cup. Does anyone have the self-control to stop there?
2. What phrases on food labels are deceptive or misleading?
Here’s Dr. Allen’s answer: “Phrases beginning with ‘high’, ‘low’, ‘a good source of’ and ‘reduced’ have specific meanings dictated by the FDA. These vary by nutrient (sodium, fat, fiber, vitamins/minerals, etc.) and any claims including these words must follow the FDA guidelines. ‘Antioxidants,’ in general, do not have an approved claim, so statements like ‘high in antioxidants’ are not allowed. (Sunsweet’s antioxidant blend dried fruits received a warning letter last year for making this statement on their package.)
The claim that a food is “natural” has no standard definition. Consumers assume it means that the food contains no additives and is only minimally processed, but that may not be the case. The package can say “made with…” even if that refers to a minute amount of something considered healthy. Generally, meat and poultry, which operate under USDA supervision, do need to meet some minimal standards for “natural.”
A label stating that a particular vegetable oil is “cholesterol-free” does not really set it apart as better than another brand; ALL vegetable oils are cholesterol-free because cholesterol is found only in animal products. The message “0 trans fats” on a liquid vegetable oil is pointless; there are no trans fats in any liquid vegetable oils.
Researchers have discovered that certain words and phrases have a “halo effect,” meaning that, like the virtue we attribute to angels, we believe in their inherent goodness. Don’t conclude that a product is low-calorie just because the package proclaims in large letters, “No Carbs!” When you read “natural” or “organic” or “fat-free” don’t assume that the food is healthier than a similar product that doesn’t make that claim. Check the calorie count plus fat, sugar, and salt content. The amount of calories, fat, sugar, and salt in a “serving size” may be misleading if the serving size is smaller than most people would eat. However, for many products, the government and not the manufacturer determine the serving size.
What about those omega-3 claims? These, too, are sometimes misleading. The Nutrition Action HealthLetter explains: “Omega-3 may refer to the fats in fish oil (EPA and DHA) the omega-3 fats in flax, soy, and canola oil (ALA) or both. The evidence is much stronger that EPA and DHA lower the risk of heart disease, but most omega-3 foods other than fish seafood, have only ALA.” However, says Dr. Regenstein, “Some may argue that we need both EPA/DHA and ALA.”
Many consumers may not know this: a label can say that a product is free of trans fats if it has less than 0.5 grams per serving. But if you eat multiple servings of that food, you may consume more trans fat than you realize.
3. Does the order in the list of ingredients have any significance?
Each main ingredient is listed in order of its quantity in the food. (However, below 2%, they no longer have to be in order of amount.) If the first ingredient listed is water and the second is sugar, do you really want to spend your money on this product? A product may say in big letters on the front of the package that it contains blueberry juice (blueberries being one of the new “superfoods” that are supposed to be very high in antioxidants), but it can make that claim even if the product contains just one drop of blueberry juice.
4. Are the nutritional labels on food products accurate?
Not necessarily. Dr. Regenstein calls this “the dirty little secret of nutritional labeling.” Here are the rules: If an ingredient is considered good, the number on the package must be no more than 20% higher than what the food actually contains. However, it doesn’t matter how much lower than the real figure it is. For example, if a serving actually contains 10g of protein, the requirement is that the label says no more than 12g; however, since protein is considered officially healthy, it doesn’t matter how much in error the figure on the down side is. On the other hand, fat is officially considered bad, so, if the product actually contains 10g of fat, the label can’t say less than 8g; however, the label on a fat-free product could say “10g of fat,” and the government wouldn’t care.
5. Will the packaging tell me if the product contains a lot of salt and sugar?
It will if you’re knowledgeable about grams.
Sugar: The package will list the amount of sugar in grams. A teaspoon of granulated white sugar contains 4.2 grams. One Hostess Twinkie (the cream-filled sponge cake) has 18 grams (about 4 ½ teaspoons) of sugar. An 8 oz. glass of Mott’s apple juice contains 28 grams of sugar. If those two items comprise a child’s after-school or bedtime snack, that’s 46 grams or about 11 teaspoons of sugar! I know many mothers who dilute their children’s apple juice with one-half water. A glass of Welch’s grape juice contains 36 grams of natural fruit sugar per 8 oz. glass. Natural or not, that’s more than 8 teaspoons of sugar.
Labels use a lot of other names for sugar. According to the Nutrition Action HealthLetter, high fructose corn syrup, the sweetener most commonly added to processed foods, is roughly half fructose and half glucose, just as sugar is. In the human body, HFCS does not function any differently than sugar, says Dr. Regenstein. It’s used a lot in the U.S. because of the high tariff on sugar. Other products that may be listed and essentially represent sugar are corn syrup solids, malt syrup, fructose sweetener, honey, molasses, and crystal dextrose. Some products say “no added sugars” or “all natural sugar.” Whether it’s natural or not, it’s still sugar.
Salt: Every day, the average American consumes about 1 1/2 teaspoons (8,500 milligrams) of salt, which contains about 3,400 mg. of sodium. This amount is 50% higher than the 2,300 mg. of sodium recommended by the 2010 federal guidelines for healthy people. (That’s equivalent to about one teaspoon of salt.) Furthermore, the American Heart Association recommends only 1,500 mg. of sodium for older people and those with borderline high blood pressure, heart conditions, kidney disease, or diabetes.
If your goal is to consume about 1,500 mg of sodium a day, you don’t want the cup of soup you consume to contain 800 mg. or more. Before purchasing, check the sodium content on all packaged goods, especially soups, frozen meals, and other processed foods.
6. Should I be concerned about the additives listed on nonorganic products?
Food additives are regulated by the FDA under the Food Additives Amendment to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The USDA regulates meat products, based on the FDA approved additives. The FDA website has a very informative explanation of what types of additives can be used and examples of common names for ingredients you might see on the food label: To check it out, click here: http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodIngredientsPackaging/ucm094211.htm
7. What do the various organic labels mean?
Click here to find out: http://shelflifeadvice.com/content/what-do-various-organic-labels-mean
8. What’s NOT on the label that some consumers may be looking for?
Food colorings: The FDA recently rejected the petition asking that food labels
carry a warning stating that 6 food colorings could cause hyperactivity and attention deficit in children. The FDA believes that the evidence for this claim has not been established, but that more research should be undertaken. According to Dr. Regenstein, “Foods containing additives, including food coloring, receive the most comprehensive testing of all foods, more than “traditional” food.”
Genetically modified foods: Will the package tell you if the food contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs)? In Europe yes, but usually not in the U.S. In the U.S., GMO labeling is voluntary and generally merely negative: products are sometimes labeled “GMO-free” or “Non-GMO Project Verified.”
Why aren’t American consumers being told when products contain GMOs? The FDA and, it seems, most American scientists believe this information is unnecessary because GMOs are safe, and the labeling would just confuse consumers and cause unnecessary anxiety. Quoted in the Chicago Tribune, molecular biologist Bob Goldberg makes this comment: “People have been eating products from genetically modified crops for almost 15 years. They’ve been more tested than any food product you can imagine, without a sneeze.” Requiring a statement of the inclusion of GMOs would affect a vast number of products. Genetically modified corn, soybeans and canola are widely sold in the U.S. More than 70 percent of processed foods contain genetically engineered or biotech ingredients. Most commercial cheeses use a clotting enzyme that is made using GMO technology.
Many allergens: More than 160 different foods are known to cause allergic reactions. The government’s labeling requirements do not protect everyone with a food allergy. However, the 8 most common offenders account for 90% of all food allergies. The FDA requires food manufacturers to list the presence of the most common food allergens on their labels. These are the 8 foods included in the labeling requirements: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (such as almonds, cashew, and walnuts), fish (such as bass, cod, and flounder), shellfish (such as crab, lobster, and shrimp), soy, and wheat. If the product contains one of these foods or a protein from one, it must be listed. In addition, Yellow 6 must be listed as an allergen.
For more information on food allergies, click here: http://shelflifeadvice.com/content/certain-foods-making-you-sick-you-may-have-food-allergies
9. What changes would improve food labeling and perhaps the American diet?
Here are the responses from two of the food scientists on the Shelf Life Advice Advisory Board:
Dr. Karin Allen: I think presenting the information in the same format as the USDA food guide (formerly a pyramid, now a plate) would help consumers make a better connection. They’re told by the USDA to get so many servings of different food groups, but the numbers on the nutrition facts panel don’t directly relate to that concept.
Dr. Joe Regenstein: A green, yellow red light system would be the easiest to convey information—but what information? Different people are looking for different things. Furthermore, it’s not clear whether anything on a label has much of an impact. The posting of calories in restaurants does not seem to be causing major consumer change.
Sources in addition to the links within the article:
Karin E. Allen, Ph.D., Utah State University, Dept. of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences
Joe Regenstein, Ph.D., Cornell University, Dept. of Food Science
Chicago Tribune “Genetically modified food labels unlikely in U.S. despite deal” July 16, 2011
Chicago Tribune “As clear as mud? Sorting through vegetable oil claims” 7/20/11
Consumer Reports on Health “Food shockers: Bugs, BPA, and labels” July 2011.
Consumer Reports ShopSmart “Top 10 Food Shockers: What the labels won’t tell you”
Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter “Guidelines to Good Health” May 2011
Environmental Nutrition “FDA Rejects Warnings on Food Colorings” July 2011
Nutrition Action Healthletter (published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest) “10 Common Food Goofs” April 2011
FoodSafety.gov “Food Labels Are Serious Business” http://www.foodsafety.gov/blog/food_labels.html