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The Discriminating Food Shopper

Posted Sep 07 2008 8:37pm

Given the renewed controversy about the “ naturalness” of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) in the US, it is instructive to observe the scientific integrity of the UK’s approach to food labeling. While this news may not be personally applicable at present–unless you are traveling or moving abroad–I share it in recognition (and envy) of the achievement and hope that Americans may one day benefit from similarly insightful and useful food labeling definitions adopted by the FDA.

The UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) presented acceptable uses for food packaging terms such as ‘fresh’, ‘natural’ and ‘pure’ to provide clearer advice to manufacturers and eliminate further misuse or misrepresentation. The conditions under which the terms can be used reflect current consumer understanding and perceptions.

Fresh is useful to describe, for example, products that have not been processed, to differentiate raw meat from chemically preserved meat, and to show a juice is not made from concentrates. ‘Freshly prepared ‘ can be used to imply immediacy, though it should be accompanied with a date or time.

The FSA recommends against using this word for an emotive appeal, such as ‘garden fresh’, ‘ocean fresh’ and ‘kitchen fresh’. In such situations, the FSA suggests ‘finest’ would make a better alternative.

Natural’, means the products is “comprised of natural ingredients“, making it misleading to describe foods made using chemicals to change their composition or with added colors and flavorings that are chemically formed or engineered

Others terms that were formally defined include: traditional, authentic, real, genuine, and pure.

In the meantime, you can join a grassroots effort to encourage soda manufacturers to move back to cane or beet sugar as the preferred sweetener by signing a petition at The Point, an interesting website that provides a tool to rally support around any issue of personal interest. Check it out even if you don’t much care how your soda is sweetened.

A more economical, homegrown source of sugar

A more economical, homegrown source of sugar

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