Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ingredient Lists

I read ingredient lists all the time because of allergies and sensitivities in my family and sometimes they drive me crazy. (I mean the lists, not my family.)
For example, there might be a few people allergic to sugar cane who can eat beet sugar, but listing "concentrated cane juice" on foods that are supposed to be healthy instead of calling it sugar seems deceptive to me. The same foods may also contain dextrose, which is corn sugar, and if they combined them the amount of sugar would have to be listed at the top of the ingredient list.
The problems on cosmetics and cleaning products are even worse. Often things labeled as "fragrance free" are loaded with smells from various plants and flowers and can cause allergic reactions in some people. Hello? My dictionary defines a fragrance as "a sweet smell or pleasant odor" but, for some reason, "botanical" fragrances don't seem to count. And "fragrance free" products may also have strong chemical odors that certainly aren't pleasant, but may bother sensitive people and those smells don't need to be mentioned on labels.
On the other hand, some of the legal requirements on food labels are a bit extreme. It seems stupid to me to see the warning on a package of wheat flour that it "may contain wheat," or on cheese that it contains "dairy." How stupid do they think customers are?
I wish ingredient lists were required to be accurate and sensible.

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