Wednesday, 18 January 2012

My disappointment at the absolute farce that is food labelling

The other day I was contemplating the blissful existence that is summer and preparing food that has come straight from the garden - food metres as opposed to food miles. I was making quiche for dinner, with eggs, parsley and onions all from the garden with a garden salad (sadly with *gasp* bought tomatoes as we don't have any yet!).

As I am a busy mum of four young kidlets between the ages of seven and two, I am woman enough to admit I take shortcuts to get dinner on the table. The shortcut for me with the meal in question is pastry. I can't make it. Tried and it was so disgusting we all gagged and I think the chooks even gagged when it was delivered as part of their scraps!

Anyway, I have been a bit lax in reading all the food labels lately, but for some reason, on this blissfully sunny summer day I decided to take a look at the list for the pastry.

Previously I have just glanced at the back but this is what I saw:

'No added colours, preservatives or flavourings' . 'Product of Australia'. 'Australian Made'.

Well that's pretty good I thought. If I can't cook it from scratch, at least there are no baddies in it and I'm buying Australian made.

Tsk Tsk. How wrong I was!

As I started reading the actual ingredients list, part of the list contained:

'emulsifiers (471, soy lecithin, flavour, food acid (330), antioxidant (320), colour (160a)'

Hang on a bloody sec. Didn't I just read no added colours, preservatives or flavourings???? 'Cause, to me - a mum who admittedly has not reclaimed all the lost grey matter from repeated 'baby brain' episodes - that list just read as if there are colours, preservatives and flavours added to this product!

As there were a few numbers, I consulted my 'bible' on this stuff, 'The Chemical Maze' by Bill Statham which lists all the numbers that you see on the back of food items and many common personal items, as well as common side affects of these and whether good, bad or downright ugly nasty little critters.

According to the book,

471 = Mono & Diglycerides of fatty acids :-)  :-)
330 = Citric Acid :l
320 = Butylated Hydroxyanisole :( :( - petroleum derivative!!!!!! Gastrointestinal, liver, endocrine, immuno and neurotoxicity!!!!! Carcinogenic!!!!!! WTF!!!!!!!
160a = Carotene - orange/red colour :) :)

OK the zillion exclamation marks and WTF are mine, but really, how can our food labelling laws be so poor that a company can legally state there are no added bits and pieces when clearly, there are.

Now that I have discovered what is going on, I feel a bit like the bunt of a joke. Like someone who has just found out that the joke has been on them for the last several years and they have only just wised up to the fact! That large corporations are mocking me, the mum who endeavours to put a home cooked meal on the table that is not only nutritious, but one that also has the chance to be eaten by the little kidlets, only to have petroleum derived ingredients added to it!

It downright pisses me off.

And the worst thing is, I buy this pastry in bulk and I have an unopened packet still in the freezer. I can't now feed it to my kids knowing what I now know is in it but what on earth am I going to do with it? What was once an easy, recipe-in-the-head, make-blindfolded-and-in-a-hurry type meal, has now become a longer tasking chore that may well be scrapped off the menu plan for a little while.

I am annoyed that labelling laws in Australia allow this to happen and that the powers that be believe petroleum derived carcinogenic additives have ANY place in  foodstuffs!

And lets not get me started on labelling for organic/natural/green washing products vs true certified organic products, GMO's, what is ACTUALLY local and imported, and listing ALL ingredients on the ingredients list and not just those greater than 1%.

I strongly encourage all to read your ingredient labels and if there are any numbers in the ingredients list - check them out! It might be something you weren't expecting.


  1. We are so behind in food labelling in Australia. The one that really gets me is "flavour" and that they don't have to give any information about what that actually is because "it is a trade secret" What a load crap.
    I'm with you on this, I have found Nigella's pastry recipes pretty good (if you have a food processor) as is Maggie Beer's sour cream pastry and she has shown that it can be used without resting.

  2. Totally agree Murra Mumma!!! How is it even legal!!!!

  3. @Jess64 - Thanks for the tips wwith the pastry! I have found Maggie's recipe and saved it to try next time!

    @ dixibelle & Genevieve - thanks for stopping by!