Ingredient Labeling: What's in a Food?
Written by Diet Bites
What exactly is in my food?
Artificial food colors, fillers and additives, sodium, animal this, vegetable that - and the list goes on. For anyone who is concerned with their good health these days, it pays more than ever to check out those food labels.
According to the USDA, to comply with the new food labeling laws, manufacturers must list ingredients that are in standardized foods.
Without the use of additives in many foods sold commercially at your local market, they would not last more than a few hours, much less days, months or years. Even so, the consumer remains concerned about certain additives and the harm it can inflict on their level of health. Groups at higher risk - such as seniors, individuals battling a current illness or disease, pregnant women, lactating women and parents have even more concern. An additive that might not harm a young person may harm a sickly or older individual while the opposite may also hold true.
Years ago a common red dye #2 was part of many commercial products. I remember eating an ice pop which was called 'The Red Bullet' which I purchased from the ice cream man when my mom could spare the change; my poor lips and tongue stayed red for days afterwards. In addition, the drinking fountains in my school were plumbed with lead pipes - later determined in health studies to cause issues and certain health conditions for kids who experienced over-exposure. Even now, I have no idea as to the damage caused by the red food dye #2 or the lead pipes. So as society advances in the area of science and technology, we learn what elements can harm us and take proactive action as quickly as possible.
At today's marketplace, our foods are safer than they have ever been. They retain shelf life longer and are less likely to have issues such as botulism. There are a few caveats that you can work from when shopping to ensure that you and your family are getting the best and healthiest products available. They include:
Check the package for expiration and 'best by' dates. If a product is old it may come with life-threatening issues. Be particularly watchful for dates on dairy products, pancake mixes, baking mixes and pre-packaged meals. Many times the store will use a trick, placing the older items at the front because most individuals do not check expiration dates.
When shopping for foods in the store deli, ask when the food was prepared. While meats pose risk after temperature variations, cooked beans, potato salads and other foods sold in the deli section should always be purchased with a watchful eye.
Avoid testing fruit such as grapes for sweetness at your market. You never know who just touched the food without washing their hands. Kids are notorious about nose-digging and adults can be disgusting when using the toilet and walking out of the restroom without so much of a look at the lavatory. The soap and water is there for a reason.
When arriving home with fresh vegetables and meat, wash thoroughly land separate into packages. Thoroughly clean countertops after completing your task, taking care to toss any cloth towels that were used into the washer. Be careful about touching the faucet amid your process as germs can contaminate the surface then bond with the skin after the hands have been washed as the faucet is turned off.
Be sure to sort through your refrigerator and pantry on a regular basis, checking the expiration dates and tossing out foods that have expired. It may appear to be a costly affair - but less expensive than an illness may cost. Don't neglect your canned goods amid the process. Those cans of sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin and poppy seed that you didn't use during the holidays last year may now wear expired labels.
The following product categories of standardized foods which are required with food labeling laws are: