Friday, 17 January 2014

Understanding the ingredients list: Basic everyday checks!

 Everyday you open that packet of  crisps, or cereals, yogurt, tomato sauce or even a new bottle of milk. You sit with the package opened in front of you and you are suddenly lost in the literature of the food label. The most interesting (and scary part) comes when you focus on Ingredients list. And if you are brave enough to read it till the end you probably start questioning what is is that thing you are eating.


For example, for your (healthy)sandwich it is common to buy on a regular basis things like coldmeats( ham or turkey), spreadable cheese, crabmeat, tuna or smoked salmon. But they have more than just turkey, or salmon or cheese. There is a whole list of ingredients that you should quickly browse.

One of the most important things is the order of the ingredients, this is super easy and fast to check.

Did you know...?

- That the 1st ingredient in the list makes a minimum of 50%  of the total of ingredients added?
 So for example, one of my favorites to explain: Deli meat- turkey like the one below : turkey(55%), water, salt, stabilisers (E-420,E-451,E-407), potato starch, dextrose, lactose, milk protein, sugar, flavour(contains soy protein), flavour enhancer( E-621), antioxidant (E-316), spices.


This clearly indicates that you are buying slices of turkey at the price of water... cause 45% of the product is made of water, salt and "chemistry". Many deli meats (even the healthy ones like turkey) are poor in what you actually want, which is lean white meat.





- But! Sometimes if you combine the 2nd and 3rd ingredient all together will make more than the 1st one.Which means that better watch out cause your food might have much more of things you really don´t want to pay for and eat.
To illustrate this, I recently  bought a Soja Sauce by a famous UK brand . It is obviously not the brand I would go for this product but it happened anyways, bought by mistake cause I assumed I was going to get just what it said at the  front , Soja Sauce and I didn´t bother to look in detail. And when I read later on the ingredients list I almost died!:
  
Ingredients: water, fructose glucose syrup, sugar, soya sauce (water, soya, wheat, salt), molasses, salt, yeast extract, coloring (caramel), herbs and spice extract, acidulant(lactic acid).


Now we enter the funny part: Fructose syrup , glucose, sugar, molasses--- all are the same thing: Sugar.(big debate is finally going on about its dangers) So, by checking this you see that there is probably much more sugar in percentage than the rest of ingredients including water. Also, as you see we have salt repeated twice, in the actual soya sauce and and in the final list.
 This is not the soy sauce I wanted... this is a sauce made out of sugar and salt diluted in a bit of water and soya...

I could go on and on with many different examples of things we consider more "natural" but are actually not that much: Yogurts with fruit pieces, fruit and fibre cereals, sliced bread, etc.

Go and check some foods in the fridge or your cupboard and make your own assessment. You will learn a lot!

Moral of the story: Check check check! You are responsible for what you eat. Don´t blame the food industry.









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