Ingredient Labels- It Says What?

Ingredient Labels- It Says What?

By Tracy Madlener

I can remember the first time I read an article about the health affects of high fructose corn syrup.  As soon as I finished reading the information, I went into the pantry and started checking the labels to see if I had any of that “unknown stuff” in my packaged foods.  Low and behold, HFCS was in EVERYTHING!  I threw out juices and cereals and ketchup and cookies and bread and… and… and the list was enormous!  I felt tremendously guilty about the waste, but I didn’t want to donate it either as I didn’t feel the food was healthy for anybody.  That was the first time I ever paid attention to what was on a food label.


how-to-read-food-labelsI think it’s almost easier to learn Greek than deciphering the ingredients of the foods we eat.  Sad isn’t it?  And now, add in figuring out which of these ingredients (that can barely be pronounced) are genetically modified… good grief!  If you get cold sweats and dizziness while trying to read a food label, you’re in luck!  I just so happen to have become quite a sleuth in figuring out what the ingredients labels mean.  Here are a few of my tips to help you navigate your way to a healthy pantry…


Tip #1- If you can’t pronounce the words or don’t know what those words mean in the ingredients list… don’t buy it!  Why would you eat or feed your loved ones ingredients that you can’t pronounce?  Hmmm… something to think about.


Tip #2- Know your top GMOs.  For instance, 88% of corn is genetically modified here in the United States, so when you read a label that has, corn starch, corn syrup, corn meal, corn oil (in most vegetable oils) and malodextrins… unless it’s organic or Non-GMO Project Verified, it is more than likely a GMO.  Soy is another biggie.  90% of soy grown in the U.S.A. is genetically modified.  A heads up with soy on labels?  Soybeans, hydrolyzed soy protein, soy lecithin, soy flour, soybean oil, tofu, tempeh, teriyaki sauce, mono- and di-glycerides, soy milk and dairy products, bean curd, and bean sprouts. This is not the whole list for soy, but I covered most of it.  Other off the top of my head GMOs you would find in processed foods… Canola, sugar beets (I didn’t even connect the dots with sugar coming from beets as I am originally from Hawaii and I grew up knowing cane sugar), cottonseed oil, and aspartame.  At the end of this article, I’ll put a link to the top GMOs.  Memorize it and you’ll spot the GMOs on a label in an instant.


Tip #3- The shorter the list of the ingredients, the better.  When looking at the list, if there are 352 million unpronounceable ingredients… put it back and slowly walk away!


labelTip #4- Did you know that over 45 million dollars was spent to defeat Prop 37 CA Right To Know GMO Labeling Initiative?  What does this have to do with reading labels you ask?  Knowing the different brands who contributed money to keeping our eyes closed from what’s in our foods will help you determine which brands are made with GMO products.  And trust me when I say, you’ve heard of most of their names and they have deceived us to believe that when we see their brand, it means quality.  Now that my blinders have been removed, I will no longer be fooled.  I will also put a link to the brands who contributed and how much at the bottom.  Please keep in mind that these brands also own many names.  Like Kraft… they own Boca, Oreo, Maxwell House, Halls (yup, throat lozenges) and Capri Sun to name a few.


I hope these tips keep you alert, informed and keeps the blinders off your eyes for good.  The more we know… right?


GMO Crops-

Corporations Who Opposed Prop 37-

Non-GMO Shopping Guide-


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  1. pantelis says:

    I don’t fully agree with Tip#1, if you don’t know what it is LOOK IT UP AND LEARN.

    • Tracy M. says:

      I know what you mean pantelis, and yes, people should look it up… but when you’re a mom (or dad) shopping with a baby and a toddler, you can’t always look it up. If someone is unsure, they shouldn’t buy it until they are. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Interesting ideas. Thank for sharing them.

  3. Jason Wagner says:

    I feel significantly more informed, so, thanks for that!

  4. Kevin says:

    Great info! It’s so disheartening though. I just don’t know if I can keep up with it all. Like the fish list… And the Monsanto seed company list… My problem is: why should we have to? Shouldn’t these companies & our governments be regulating these things and protecting us? It astounds me that it is permitted in the first place. And yet, Obama just helped Monsanto and harmed farmers again yesterday, on the 80th anniversary of the New Deal. It sickens me.

    • Tracy M. says:

      We’re on the same team Kevin… so that’s why it’s more important than ever to be aware, be informed, and read your labels. Thanks for sharing! :)

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