Are you food label-savvy?

What does a simple Ghirardelli Chocolate wrapper tell you?

Reading reports about food poisoning and rise of various food-related diseases worldwide, I believe many of you out there are becoming more and more conscious about where your food come from.

Do you read the labels of your food more? Even if it's just a quick glance at the country of origin.

The consumer in US are getting more food label-savvy due to the recent Chinese food scare. Here is a link for you to read more about it.

Being Food label-savvy is not that easy as we assumed. Manufacturers love to put codes on their products which are meant for our consumption. Have you ever wondered why there is no standard system for the printing of manufacturing or "Best Before" dates? The worst ones are on canned food. It seems like I require a degree in decoding before I know what they are trying to tell me with those numbers sometimes.

Speaking of which, Eggs are getting their whole new tags too. Never fail to amuse me how each country labels their eggs with so many different signs. County of origin, the farm code and date of produce must be clearly stamped on each egg. These measures result from the Salmonella scare.

Of course we have not discuss about the nutrition labels on certain food products. Reading them puts me off lots of food for a period of time. I know this is important for leading a healthy lifestyle. But for me, breaking down a tasty chocolate cereal bar into Energy, Carbohydrates, Fiber and Iron is very unappetising!

That aside, I have a habit of reading the ingredients listed for baked goods. Too many E numbers, preservatives that come with all sorts of chemical names and unlisted additives are warning signs for me. I will choose products that have the least number of additives or give up buying the food product totally.

What about you? What are the things you read on a Food Label? Are you one of those health conscious individual who understands the nutrition labels? Do share with us your knowledge.


uncommon said...

I try to understand the labels, when I can, although like you: at times I find them almost impossible to decipher.

I rarely eat anything processed, so that gets most of the bad stuff barred.

Secondly, because I have to fill in a food diary, (nutribase) to which my nutritionist watches like a hawk: I have to know whats in the food. It gets a bit of a drag, but it keeps me honest.

If I were World Emperor: making the whole lot behave and do it standard, would be one of the first acts:)


SheR. said...

Yay! Vote for Brendan!
I think the world standardisation of food labelling only follows any type of sudden increase in the safety of the food product (eg salmonella food scare).
I try to eat a balanced diet. But I find watching everything I eat just isn't my cup of tea.
Food is meant to be enjoyed. Everything in moderation!

Sangeeta Sinha said...

Hey, you are right. People hardly read the food label. Actually there is no awareness; the attitude is like "I am buying it, so I'll eat it. When everyone is eating, why not me? Nothing will happen." Some people will say they have no time to read the label. When I make sure to read the label, the shopkeeper gets fed up and tries to force me into taking it. Now in our area, they know. Whenever I go to a shop, they know they cannot cheat me or give me bad products.

By the way, article on Fennel and Cumin is ready. I will publish it tomorrow (3.4.08). Look out!

SheR. said...

Hahah Sounds like a very wise consumer! No wonder the shopkeeper hates you!
I'm so scared after hearing so much news about bad food products that I want to grow my own food if I know how to. Minimal processed food like Brendan is the best choice!

Vote for Brendan as emperor!

uncommon said...


I put on my legal hat for a bit, and I remember from some research I had done before that the reason the manufacturers "always" put forward to NOT be honest with labels, is to do with commercial sensitivity of their recipes.

Just imagine that you had worked out a super recipe for something that you had worked on for ages. If you put the full information on the can/packet: everyone who wanted to could copy it.

I know, from my knowledge of Tort Law: that legally: that is very hard to get over from a legislative viewpoint.

As you are from the other side of the fence, a creator of food, I'd be very interested in your ideas on that side of the issue.


Sangeeta Sinha said...

Hearing about food and so much hype about don't eat this, don't eat that, it will be still better if we live only on water. Here also, there is a problem - boil it, filter it, buy bottled ones; water does this, water does that.
Ooof, the best thing is to starve but then again problems. So I believe it will be okay if we eat everything in little quantity and that's it.

SheR. said...

Hm.. Very interesting viewpoint Brendan. Of course every chef with a winning recipe will not want to divulge their secrets. But legally they are bounded to disclose as much as possible.
There are no lack of copycat recipes online anyway. So what's the use of hiding?
From a personal point of view, I will form a very bad opinion of any food products if they refused to reveal any of their ingredients.
But truthfully, even if any chefs have the same recipes, they can't produce the exact same taste.
So my word of advice is don't be afraid to share. Unless you have something to hide.

uncommon said...


I'm with you, and my experience of cooking is: that no matter how hard you try...just the quality of the celery or "something" makes it tastes different on the night.

I did think that I might open a restaurant one time: and did do a few cookery courses: but honestly, even something as to how I felt on the night seemed to make a difference in the quality of the food.

I need to love while I'm cooking, if that makes sense at all.

Maybe the whole thing is an emotional experience. From both the chef and the consumer.

I don't mean to nag this topic to death, but I have to admit an interest. My wife is always asking me "how", but I don't know...I'm an intuitive cook: within certain obvious rules about what works and what doesn't. Okay: I'll be quiet for a bit now: I'm very interested in your work:)


SheR. said...

>>Sangeeta, you are right about the whole hoo ha over every single food. What I'm trying to do here is not to promote which food is good and which is not. I present the article on Science Daily, my own point of view and let readers decide for themselves. I'm just informing.

Everything in moderation even if it's the best in the world!

SheR. said...

>>Brendan... which part of my work you're interested in?? Past or present?
I would love to have a restaurant but I'm taking each step at a time. Slowly building towards that :)