The Ingredients List
Ingredients are listed on products by weight, from most to least. The food’s main ingredient will be listed first. This is important to know, especially when looking at sweetened foods. If the food contains only one ingredient, such as a bag of dried beans, no ingredient list is required.
Ingredient lists are vital to people with allergies. It is estimated that 8 percent of children in the United States have food allergies. Of these, 90 percent are caused by one of eight foods: milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, and tree nuts. These eight foods must be listed on an ingredients list if they are used in the product.
Color additives, too, must be acknowledged in the ingredients list by name, as well as soy-based flavor enhancers and milk derivatives called caseinates, commonly used in nondairy products. Beverages that claim to contain a specific juice must list the percentage of that juice.
Familiarizing yourself with the ingredients list, the food facts panel, and the labeling laws is an eye-opening experience. Take a look at the foods you have in your cupboard right now and see how they rate. You may be surprised.