Blog of Sara Jakša

What I Find Wrong With Ingredient List

There are many different types of food there. There are meats, cheeses, milks, fruits, nuts, vegetables, desserts, prepared food, frozen bakeries and many more.

What I realized, when I moved to different country was, that I suddenly did not understand the labels on the food. I haven't even realized it before, how much did I used them.

Without my thinking or any aware part of me, I started to buy only food, that were either so simple, that they didn't need any labels (like fresh fruits and vegetables) or food with three ingredients or less. Where I knew, what they were.

I like to cook, so that was not a problem for me, and now I have an excuse to try to make a homemade versions of all my favourite desserts, that I usually bought at supermarkets.

But it got me thinking. I finally noticed, that I am reading the labels, but even when they were written in my language, did I understood them? Or did I read them simply for my pleasure?

Labels are a way, that we, as consumers, can know, what we are buying. If we leave the whole idea, that the company could be lying on them, they still have some problems.

The one problem that I find really annoying is terminology.

The first problem with terminology is using the E system in Europe. If you ever bought anything in Europe before, that was processed food, that you probably saw the Exxx written among the ingredients before.

I still remember the times, before we went to EU, when baking soda's ingredient list read: ‘sodium bicarbonate'. These days it is written as E500. But there is no way to really know, what that is, except if you have a book with you and check every single E on it.

The second problem is inconsistency. The same ingredient can be written on different products in different way. Sometimes beta carotene is written as a name, and sometimes just as colouring.

Witch bring me to the third problem. The generality of the terms. When I see colouring, natural colouring, natural flavours and similar written on the ingredient list, I have no idea, what could it be. The terms can mean a lot of things. I mean, in some cuisines, the blood of the animal could be considered natural flavour, just the same as adding the oil of the spices. And I would prefer to know, what kind of flavour did they put in it.

There is also a fourth problem, the ‘it contains' or ‘it can contain' part of the ingredients. As useful as it can be for the allergic people, doesn't it make you think? If these ingredients could have come in this food with cross contamination, with other ingredients also made way to this product?

There are also the conspiracy theories behind them, that claim, that companies are trying to lie to us on what they put inside. But there is so much inconsistency, them might not have to.