Watch Out For the
How Being More Conscious of Food Labels
Can March Sustainability Into Your Kitchen
A PRESENTATION BY SARAH MILLER AND MICHAELA
What Food Labels Tell Us
Food labels can tell us the useful information we
need to know about the food we are purchasing.
Conveniently, they state nutritional facts such as
sodium and sugar counts
Dietary facts such as calorie and total fat count
And the daily value percentage of these items
But what do labels not tell us?
What Labels Don’t Tell Us
While nutritional facts are important, what most food labels don’t tell
us are some of the essentials to a sustainable food system
Unless it’s labeled Fair Trade, most labels do not tell us how the
product was grown or made. Was it made at an establishment that
uses more resources than they return to the earth?
Currently, it is not mandatory to label GMO products in the US.
Vermont will become the first state to make it mandatory to label
GMO products. High fructose corn syrup, a genetically modified
product, is found in very many common foods such as syrup, juice,
bread, and cookies.
What Labels Don’t Tell Us
These deceptive food labels, it is difficult to be a smart consumer.
Buying common food items that contain genetically modified
ingredients contributes to the amount of man made chemicals in
This is in violation with the second system condition of a sustainable
society, which states that a sustainable society is not subject to an
increasing amount of chemical substances in the environment.
BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
This common additive used to prevent oxidation in
a wide variety of foods and cosmetics is listed by
the National Toxicology Program to be a human
It is also used in jet fuels, rubber petroleum
products, transformer oil and embalming fluid.
Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) warns that BHT
should not be allowed to enter the environment,
can cause liver damage, and is harmful to
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
Studies have shown that the reactive carbonyl
molecules can cause tissue damage that may lead
to obesity, diabetes, and also heart disease.
HFCS is made from genetically modified corn and
processed with genetically modified enzymes.
Studies have recently revealed that nearly half of
tested samples of HFCS contained mercury.
Yellow #5 and other Dyes
Almost all colorants approved for use in food are derived from coal
tar and may contain up to 10ppm of lead and arsenic.
Most coal tar colors could potentially cause cancer.
Propylene glycol alginate (E405)
This food thickener, stabilizer,
and emulsifier is derived from
alginic acid esterified and
combined with propylene
It has many industrial uses
antifreezes and airport runway
Aspartame is one of the most
common artificial sweeteners in use
It is used in many foods and
beverages because it is about 200
times sweeter than sugar, so much
less of it can be used to give the
same level of sweetness. This, in turn,
lowers the calories in the food or
Can lead to cancer, strokes,
diabetes, and heart disease.
Is used to thicken foods like salad dressing
It is also used in hair gels and concrete.
Ingredients on product packaging are listed according to quantity;
the ingredient making up the largest quantity is listed first, and so on.
Food producers are getting creative. Many of the old ingredients
names have changed to a analogous name.
We are what we eat!
Knowing what deceiving ingredients we are eating can prevent
potential future health related issues.
Becoming aware of the information of food labels can march food
sustainability into your kitchen.
Look in your pantry and pull out two food items. Find two ingredients
that you do not know about.
a. list the food item
b. list the ingredient
c. list what the compound is made of
d. list the health effects
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