Ingredient Label  Basics

Ingredients on the food ingredient labels are listed in descending order by ingoing weight.   This means that when the food was manufactured, the first ingredient listed contributed the largest amount and the last ingredient listed contributed the least.  For example, if sugar is listed near the start of the list, then the product contains a greater proportion of sugar.

Allergens must be declared no matter how much is used.  In the example, allergens are in bold text on the which makes it easier to read.  This hasn't always been my experience though, so I recommend having a closer look if the allergy causes you grief.

Although at first I only looked for the ingredients I was allergic to, in time, I also started to notice the sugar, additives, colours, flavours, gums, anti-caking agents, preservatives (among others) that make up the ingredient labels on these so called 'foods'.   It's also amazing how many foods contain wheat - even ice-cream and the chocolate sprinkles on your cappuccino.

Ingredient Label  Links ...

Want to get right down into the 'nitty-gritty' on food ingredient labels in your part of the world?  Here are some links that might help...

Making Sense of Food Additives ...

Food additives are used to ensure our processed and packaged foods are safe.  Food additives can be used to:

  1. Improve the taste or appearance of a processed foods.
  2. Improve the keeping quality or stability of a food.
  3. Preserve food when it is the most practical way of extending its storage life.

Some additives also occur naturally, such as lecithin and ascorbic acid.   Click here for more information from Food Standards Australia New Zealand on what food additives are used for.

Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code also have a full list of food additive names and code numbers.   Click Here to open in a separate window.

Some additives are naturally occurring and considered safe.  This group include anti-caking agents, bleaches, emulsifiers, mineral salts, propellants, food acids, thickening agents, vegetable gums and vitamins and are listed below for your convenience.

Although considered safe, some of the listed food additives may still cause digestive complaints because by adding them to our food, they occur in higher than normal quantities.  People who suffer from food allergies or sensitivities should be cautious with any  food additive.  

Note:  This list is not exhaustive and may change with time.  

Click here if you'd like a PDF version to print.

Personally, I find it hard to remember which are naturally occurring additives and which aren't, so my rule of thumb is not to buy products with substances I don't recognise in the ingredient lists, and definitely not any with numbers.  As I don't buy processed foods (except for the occasional large party), this already eliminates a lot of additives.  

C'mon give it a go!  Start reading the ingredient labels on everything you purchase in the supermarket – take notice of what goes into the food you buy.  We don't want to spend all day at the supermarket, so try  2 - 3 items per week.    It'll become second nature before you know it.

Happy Healthy Eating!