The Food Decoder
How to Read a Food Label
If you can’t pronounce it should you eat it? How many of you actually read the list of ingredients to see what you are eating?
Here at Betsy’s Best we keep our ingredients simple and all-natural. After all, why should what you eat be a mystery?
Maybe you do know, but more than likely you don’t know what half of the ingredients are unless you are a food scientist. Do you ever imagine an actual scientist hovering over their Bunsen burner with a test tube, mixing chemicals together to discover interactions that will give foods a longer shelf life, slow rancidity, or preserve food texture and consistency? You would think with all of the preservatives in foods we would never age!
Some ingredients are natural and beneficial, where others, even though considered Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the FDA, are still under speculation for possible long term health effects. Below I have decoded those suspicious words found on so many food labels to help clarify what you are actually eating. (Source: FDA)
Preservatives Ascorbic acid, citric acid, sodium benzoate, calcium propionate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, calcium sorbate, potassium sorbate, BHA, BHT, EDTA, tocopherols (Vitamin E)
Sweeteners Sucrose (sugar), glucose, fructose, sorbitol, mannitol, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium (acesulfame-K), neotame, stevia
Color Additives FD&C Blue Nos. 1 and 2, FD&C Green No. 3, FD&C Red Nos. 3 and 40, FD&C Yellow No. 5 (tartrazine) and No. 6, Orange B, Citrus Red No. 2, annatto extract, beta-carotene, grape skin extract, cochineal extract or carmine, paprika oleoresin, caramel color, fruit and vegetable juices, saffron (Note: Exempt color additives are not required to be declared by name on labels but may be declared simply as colorings or color added)
Flavor & Spices Natural flavoring, artificial flavor, and spices
Flavor Enhancers Monosodium glutamate (MSG), hydrolyzed soy protein, autolyzed yeast extract, disodium guanylate or inosinate
Fat Replacers Olestra, cellulose gel, carrageenan, polydextrose, modified food starch, microparticulated egg white protein, guar gum, xanthan gum, whey protein concentrate
Nutrients Thiamine hydrochloride, riboflavin (Vitamin B2), niacin, niacinamide, folate or folic acid, beta carotene, potassium iodide, iron or ferrous sulfate, alpha tocopherols, ascorbic acid, Vitamin D, amino acids (L-tryptophan, L-lysine, L-leucine, L-methionine)
Emulsifiers Soy lecithin, mono- and diglycerides, egg yolks, polysorbates, sorbitan monostearate
Stabilizers, thickners, binders, texturizers Gelatin, pectin, guar gum, carrageenan, xanthan gum, whey
Leavening Agents Baking soda, monocalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate
Anti-caking agents Calcium silicate, iron ammonium citrate, silicon dioxide
Humectants Glycerin, sorbitol
Yeast Nutrients Calcium sulfate, ammonium phosphate
Dough Strengtheners & Conditioners Ammonium sulfate, azodicarbonamide, L-cysteine
Firming Agents Calcium chloride, calcium lactate
Enzyme Preparations Enzymes, lactase, papain, rennet, chymosin
Gases Carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide
Not all food additives are harmful for your health, but some are and knowing how to read a food label is important. We take special pride in the fact that Betsy’s Best uses the highest quality ingredients and food that supplies the body with nutrients. Eating healthy can taste good and be good for you! That is the Betsy’s Best way.
P.S. If you are looking to avoid preservatives in your almond milk give our homemade almond milk recipe a try.