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The need for food labelling

The need for food labelling

In the 19th Century, manufacturers added all kinds of unpleasant substances to processed food.

Milk sellers in the US once added chalk or dye to make their watered-down batches look more palatable. Other food companies added copper sulphate - a garden pesticide - to their tinned vegetables to make them look greener. Formaldehyde or borax was added to extend shelf life. In England, green sugary sweets were coloured with arsenic, and lead was added to red or yellow ones.


1.61K reads


Food regulations around the world

Forcing stricter labelling regulations took decades. Today, processed foods come with abundant information about their contents, although it is not always easy to understand.

Food regulations differ around the world. The UN and WHO's Codex Alimentarius provides an internati...


170 reads

Health and nutrition claims

Health claims are regulated to avoid manufacturers over-promising. 

The US uses three relevant types of claims:

  • Authorised claim: The approved claim must have "significant scientific agreement."
  • Qualified claim: The scien...


138 reads

Serving sizes

Serving size was another definition that may seem obvious at first but is complex to define. Until the Nutrition Facts label appeared, each manufacturer decided for themselves how big a portion was.

  • The 1990 US legislation mandated tha...


90 reads

Nutrition facts

Nutrition facts

Some nations like the UK use red, amber, and green colour codes to express how healthy a processed food is in terms of fat, saturates, sugars and salt. 

For example, a processed meal might have 7.7g of saturated fat and be labelled red. It may also show a percentage like 39...


137 reads

Understanding ingredients

The ingredients are listed from the main ingredient to the least ingredient by weight. For hazelnut spread, the first (and biggest) ingredient is sugar, then oil.

  • Lower down, you'll come across "E numbers". The EU uses these shortcodes to desc...


148 reads




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