Knowing labels: where to start

To know the labels, first of all I advise you to train starting to read the ingredients of the products, not only the food ones, that are at home. You will be amazed to find dyes in cosmetics or additives in medicines. Even children, who already know how to read, will be able to participate in this game using a magnifying glass to become “little detectives of the ingredient lists”.

You should know that on the labels of the packages you will find very rarely the percentage of the additive used in the product in question as it is a “strictly confidential” secret, especially for consumers. In general, the ingredients are classified in descending order starting from the one used in greater quantities. For example, if we take the ingredients list of a new type of chewing gum and see that the list starts with 7 sweeteners including aspartame, you can deduce that these gums all in all contain quite dangerous sweeteners. It’s up to you to judge whether you really need to chew on these kinds of products. Unfortunately, very often, labels are printed in lowercase characters and in the color of the packaging, thus confusing the consumer. For example, on the packaging of certain candies, which would like to “sweeten the lives of young and old”, the ingredients are printed in tiny and white characters on a transparent background. But because kids love these products, you don’t pay attention and parents give in to make their little angels happy.

History does not say whether in the hours following the ingestion of those famous candies in tempting colors, but sometimes carcinogenic, those same “little angels” turned into real miniature devils! But whoever spoke of a ‘reaction to food additives’? Practically none. This must be a taboo subject.

Today, more and more studies have been carried out by health specialists, denouncing the toxicity of a large number of food additives, which, as long as they are authorized, are often dangerous to our health, which are generally poorly controlled and very useful to the agri-food industry. Most additives are chemical and are voluntarily added by the food industry. Our body, and even less that of children, is not made to take such important quantities. In order to measure the toxicity of additives, studies are generally carried out on laboratory guinea pigs, which do not have the same reactions as humans, and to which only one additive is administered at a time. But the only species that has never undergone laboratory tests is precisely the one that consumes a myriad of additives (up to 7 kilos/year for an individual!): the human species!

So, for every ingredient you find in food labels that starts with an E and stands next to a number, type it on the internet and get to know it, it’s your right to know what you eat and preserve your health!

Dr. Luisa Gragnoli

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