Look at the labels so you can make healthy decisions while grocery shopping(Shutterstock)
Look at the labels so you can make healthy decisions while grocery shopping(Shutterstock)

What’s in a label?

Here’s what the terms on the tags of your favourite foods mean
Hindustan Times | By Shikha Sharma
UPDATED ON MAY 05, 2018 10:43 PM IST

On what basis do you buy food when you’re shopping for your domestic needs? Do you look at the labels so you can make healthy decisions? And if you do, do you understand terms like GMO/non-GMO, and so on?

Even if you do understand these terms, here’s a quick glossary of terms you are likely to find on food labels:

Non-GMO: The full form is Non-Genetically Modified product. This is used to appeal to those who do not wish to eat food products made from genetically manipulated natural seeds. This manipulation is done to improve the size or appearance of the food, or in many cases, to make the plant robust against diseases. GMO foods tend to worry a lot of people.

Cold pressed: Many reagents used in the commercial extraction of oil from seeds strip off the health benefits of the oils. Cold pressing, a traditional method of pressing oil out of seeds that does not use heat and chemicals, creates a more nutritious oil.

Natural juice: This means there are no artificial colours and preservatives in the juice.

Enriched: Processing causes foods to lose many of their health components, such as fibre, wheat germ and vitamins. Some companies may decide to return some of these lost ingredients, such as wheat bran in atta. Guidelines dictate that enriched food must have at least 10 per cent more nutritional value than the non-enriched versions.

Organic: This is a hotly debated label, because there are so many nuances to the description. Organically grown food means farmers not using pesticides, and not using hormones on animals. This is straight. But what of packaged foods made with organic ingredients? Ideally, they ought not to use preservatives and non-organic sugar and salt as flavouring agents. And packaged foods have many ingredients. Is each ingredient organic? Even organic agriculture may not actually be organic because pesticides from a neighbouring farm may be transported to the organic farm by wind or ground water seepage, and the soil in the farm could still have traces of used over the years.

From HT Brunch, May 6, 2018

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