This Is What You Need To Check Before Buying Packaged Food
PantryCooker Staff 1/9/2017
If you recently consumed any packaged food, you might have noticed a myriad of tiny symbols accompanying the brand name and logo. Most of us usually ignore them and head straight to the food label to get the nutrition information we seek. But, these seemingly unimportant symbols actually serve a good purpose.
Food laws require that manufacturers use accurate markings to inform customers of the food they will be eating. While most of us care more about opening the bag or box and getting the food in our mouth, for people suffering with serious allergies or food restrictions, these markings can be a lifesaving tool.
While some symbols like those for gluten-free and organic foods are pretty well known, there are others that are less easy to decipher. It's time to get ourselves familiar with the information and make sure we are putting the right things in our body that can be nurturing and beneficial in the long run.
Non-GMO stands for non-genetically modified organisms. In other words, these are foods that have not been created in labs using genetic engineering techniques. For GMO products, genes are not only borrowed from the plant world, but also from bacteria and viruses to potentially create new breeds that are quicker and easier to produce. Dangers of GMO foods include disrupting the functioning of other genes and creating toxins and allergens in foods.
If you want to stay away from GMO products, simply look for the butterfly and check-mark label put out by the Non-GMO Project. It's just that easy!
The NuVal System scores food on a scale of 1-100 with a higher number meaning better nutrition. The numbers are calculated by an independent panel of food scientists and grocery stores simply add that information to their existing food signs on the shelf tag. In that sense, NuVal is not a traditional food symbol since it does not appear on the packaging itself, but rather on the signage used to promote the product in the stores.
Grocery chains nationwide have started using NuVal system to give their customers an easy, true, and unbiased data to make their own decision.
Created by the American Heart Association, the heart check symbol is included on food packaging to promote choices that support heart health. The great thing about the Heart Check Symbol is that it is often included on restaurant menus which can make dining out a sensible option as well.
To be certified, a product must meet specific nutrition requirements which include seven different categories and meet government regulatory requirements for making a coronary heart disease health claim. Independent third-party lab testing is also conducted when a product is close to exceeding the limits for fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, trans fat or sodium.
Whether or not you follow a Kosher diet, nearly half of the packaged food we buy consists of some form of marking indicating whether or not it is Kosher friendly. Orthodox Union is the strictest kosher standard on the market today and is indicated by a capital U inside an O, and referred to simply as OU. Sources claim that the OU certifies over 300,000 labels in over 70 countries. Other Kosher symbols include:
OU-P: Kosher for passover
OU-D: Dairy product
OU-M (OU-Glatt): Product made with meat or meat ingredients
OU-F: The product is made with fish ingredients
Knowing these symbols can also help non-Kosher people who might follow a non dairy or strict vegetarian lifestyles.
This video is an excellent source for information on Kosher symbols.
The new year is upon us and chances are that many of us resolved to eat better and get healthy. Exercising and eating go hand in hand, and as such half the battle of getting healthy starts with the foods you buy. Hopefully this short list of food symbols will give you a pause while picking up the next product from the super market!