Before I had a child with food allergies and sensitivities, I would never read labels on things I would buy. I thought if it was being sold in a store, it was safe to use or eat. I trusted manufacturers and also that the government would not allow something bad to be included in food or body products. I cannot believe how wrong I was!
I started reading labels only in the last few years. Even for families without food allergies, it is really important. After recently reading labels on a variety of products, I was pretty surprised at what I found. Read on and be convinced to check your labels – know what you are consuming! It really, really matters.
Just because it is a health food or product, it does not mean it is pure or chemical-free. I purchased this brand of aloe online without reading the product label. I bought it with the intention of making a firming eye gel, but now I’m not so comfortable using it for any purpose. It contains carrageenan, which is added as a thickener. Although it is extracted from a type of seaweed, it is not healthy. When ingested, carrageenan causes an immune response which creates inflammation and has been linked to many digestive disorders. It is found in a lot of organic foods, including baby formula and almond milk. This is definitely an ingredient you want to avoid.
As far as using it externally, I don’t feel comfortable. The skin is an organ and I do not want inflamed skin, especially under my eyes. That is the opposite of what I was hoping for in making a firming eye gel. Next time I will buy the organic version, which does not contain carrageenan.
This aloe also contains potassium sorbate as a preservative. Potassium sorbate is listed as a moderate hazard on Ewg.org’s Skin Deep database. I would prefer not to ingest this or put it on my skin. I should have read my labels.
Beer Chips – Bloody Mary Chips
My husband bought these chips at Costco. I probably would not have picked them out and obviously potato chips are not a healthy food choice, but this particular brand made me mad. As you can see by my yellow arrows above, the package claims there is “No MSG Added.” I am not sure what they mean by added, but there most definitely is MSG in this product. Labeled as “autolyzed yeast extract,” MSG makes its under-cover appearance on the ingredient list. According to the website Livestrong.com,
“Autolyzed yeast extract is a substance that results when yeast is broken down into its constituent components. It naturally contains free glutamic acid, or monosodium glutamate, and is often used as a less expensive substitute for MSG. As a natural component of autolyzed yeast extract, MSG does not have to be listed separately in the ingredients, so look for the yeast extract on the label if you’re sensitive to MSG.” (Source)
Interestingly enough, I checked the FDA website to see what their guidelines are in regards to MSG and food packaging. Here is what I found: (Emphasis is my own.)
“MSG occurs naturally in ingredients such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed yeast, yeast extract, soy extracts, and protein isolate, as well as in tomatoes and cheeses. While FDA requires that these products be listed on the ingredient panel, the agency does not require the label to also specify that they naturally contain MSG. However, foods with any ingredient that naturally contains MSG cannot claim “No MSG” or “No added MSG” on their packaging.” (Source)
I must be misunderstanding something, because it looks to me like Beer Chips is breaking the FDA rules…
A brief note on MSG.
MSG is added to food as a flavor enhancer, tricking the brain into thinking the food tastes better than it does and thus causing you to eat more of it. It is an excitotoxin which causes brain damage by exciting neurons to death. Consumption of MSG can also result in weight gain by its ability to cause hormone fluctuations. Small children are affected more than adults, which is very alarming to me. According to the well-researched article on the website Food Renegade,
“Humans are 20 times more sensitive to MSG than monkeys, 5 times more sensitive than rats. We have glutamate receptors on every major organ, hard-wired into our brains, and even on the tip of our tongue! That means that one fifth the level of MSG used to cause obvious brain damage to a rat will do the same to you.
And what about growing babies? It turns out that MSG is especially harmful to pregnant or nursing mothers because infants and young children are four times more sensitive to MSG than adults!” (Source)
I have noticed MSG hidden in all kinds of things, including soups and a lot of processed packaged foods (especially potato chips – almost ALL of them). The problem is that it is not listed as MSG. It will often be listed as hydrolyzed corn, yeast extract, autolyzed yeast, etc. For a comprehensive list of the product names in which MSG is present, check out this chart from TruthinLabeling.org.
Trader Joe’s Almond Butter
I would be fine with the hidden cashews in this product, if my son wasn’t allergic to cashews. As you can see from the front of the label, there is no mention of the cashews in this almond butter. On the back, however, you see there is a very small amount of cashews contained. For a person who experiences an anaphylactic response to cashews (swelling in his throat) even “less than 1%” can be a very big problem. Fix your labels, Trader Joe’s!
Amy’s Soup (Non-organic only.) The soups which have “organic” in the title are high quality.
Sometimes I don’t feel like making soup from scratch. Those days, I am super thankful for the Amy’s brand of organic soup. I stress the word organic because it is my opinion that the non-organic soups are loaded with crap. I read the label on the “Non Chicken Noodle” and placed it right back on the store shelf. It contains sources of MSG. And again, the label states “No Added MSG,” yet the FDA website prohibits products containing yeast extract from printing that claim on their label. Regardless, this soup contains soy which is a top allergen, is estrogenic and causes inflammation. It also has two sources of hidden MSG. No thank you.
V-8 V-Fusion Light
I accidentally grabbed a bottle of the V8 V-Fusion Light instead of the regular V-Fusion we buy for school lunches. I know that juice is loaded with sugar, but my son won’t drink water at lunch anymore so I send juice in his bottle, watered down. After I got home from the store and realized my mistake, I read the label to see how they made it “light.” I found artificial sweetener, probably to make up the sweetness after adding a lot of water. First of all, what a rip off, and second, what a bad trade-off.
These are just a few of the products which I found to contain less than desirable ingredients. As a mother I want to keep my children’s environment as pure as possible, and diet is a huge part of that.
Have you found any bad ingredients in a product you trusted or loved? Please share in the comments below.