Clean Labels and What to Look For

January 6, 2017

75% of consumers in the United States claim to read the nutritional and ingredient labels of food products, with 91% of consumers believing food and beverage options with recognizable ingredients are healthier, according to Innova.

Consumers now have resources available to them that reveal more about the food they eat. As they become more informed about the ingredients used and how the food is processed, that information starts to shape the kinds of products they want to purchase. “Clean labels” are a trend that is showing no signs of slowing down. What’s up for debate though is what constitutes a clean label and what the components are that consumers should really be looking for.

For some consumers, having to read the label of every product you purchase at the grocery store can be exhausting. To save time, here are some words you should look for and a few you should try to avoid. As a general statement, you should look for whole ingredients with names that you recognize. Realize though, that not all additives are harmful. Some top offenders you SHOULD avoid on your labels though include Azodicarbonamide, Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT), Parabens and Caramel Coloring.

Many people think that it’s the number of ingredients that matter on a label and the less ingredients the better. For a clean label, that’s really not true. You could have a product with 20+ ingredients, but if those ingredients are non-processed, the product should still meet clean criteria.

Perceptions of so-called “natural” products and ingredients vary among consumers, creating challenges for product development teams. Although 2/3 of consumers think that the term natural means a product is free of anything artificial, it’s actually not regulated by the FDA so it means next to nothing when applied to food. You want to look for products that say No Artificial Ingredients clearly on the packaging, like our Flavored Pretzels line or our new trEAT4u 1oz bags launching soon.

Something to consider in the future is that by the summer of 2018, the new food labels will be in effect. Some of those changes include:

  • Calories displayed larger
  • Serving Size shifting to what people actually eat and drink, not the recommended amount
  • Added Sugars will be broken down from naturally occurring sugars
  • Vitamin D, Iron, Calcium and Potassium will be listed on labels in the amount of nutrients, not just percent of daily value
  • Calories from Fat will be removed from labels

Keep in mind though that although the numbers on nutrition labels are useful, the ingredients should still be the number one thing consumers are looking at on labels. A food can be low in calories or sugar, but still not be considered clean or healthy for you.

Tags: all natural, clean eating, clean food, clean labels, clean snacks, healthy snacking, labels, snacks

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