More often than not, we fall prey to consuming a product without checking what it is made up of. One can only be sure of what he/she is consuming when they painstakingly visit the market to shop individual items to prepare their own meals. This is one advantage home cooked meals have over foods bought from supermarkets, restaurants, or local food joints.
Many have the notion that once a product is sold in the supermarket, it automatically is of high quality. Others also assume that a product must be expensive to be affiliated with high quality but is this always the case?
It is very crucial to know the composition of the food you consume. Be it home-cooked, ready-to-eat, snack, etc, you must have some interest in the various ingredients that go into its manufacture. Foods from local food joints and restaurants may be limited in product information provided however products from shops and supermarkets most often have this information readily available on their packaging.
Aside finding out words which you may not understand or pronounce correctly, chances are that you would notice some few others which you may be familiarized it example ingredients like sugar or milk. You could take the opportunity to find out more about the ingredients you have never heard of and even learn a thing or two.
There are many reasons why it is important to check the ingredient composition of every food you consume. Some people experience adverse reactions when they consume certain kinds of foods, and this is term as allergenic reactions. Some symptoms of allergies are itching, choking, loose bowels amongst others. Food allergy can trigger mild discomforts or sometimes could be life threatening. Examples of foods that have been reported to trigger most adverse reactions in some people after consumption are eggs, milk, peanuts, soybean, crustacean, fish, cereals containing gluten, and tree nuts (https://www.who.int/foodsafety/fs_management/No_03_allergy_June06_en.pdf).
Confectionery products such as milk chocolate and drinking chocolates may contain some amount of milk and soy. As part of the food regulations, foods which contains one or more ingredients identified as allergenic must have an allergen information clearly indicated on its packaging, and or bolden these ingredients when listing the food’s composition.
The only way one can prevent food allergy reactions is by avoiding their consumption. How then can you avoid allergenic foods when you do not know the composition of the foods you consume?
Another reason why you must know what goes into what you consume is food fraud. Food fraud refers to the deliberate and intentional substitution, addition, tampering with, or misrepresentation of food, ingredients or packaging at some stage of a products distribution or production cycle (https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=food+fraud).
You would be shocked to know that there are products on the market being marketed as something they are not. Have you ever purchased yogurt with the strawberry fruit depicted all over the packaging only to purchase it and not find any traces of the strawberry fruit in the product? That can be a clear example of food fraud if the product description was Yogurt with strawberry; you got your yogurt but where was the strawberry? In most cases you would realize that even though the packaging had images of the strawberry fruit, the product only contained a strawberry flavour which you could have realized in time and made an informed decision if you had read its ingredient composition.
In commercial food manufacturing, food additives may be added to a food product to improve the characteristics of the product. Food additive in simple terms is a substance or mixture of substances other than a basic food which when added to food improves its appearance, flavour, shelf life and other desirable qualities (https://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs/56648.pdf). Example of food additives are colours, preservatives, flavour enhancers, antibiotics, sweeteners, thickeners, amongst others.
Food additives which are usually safe to use in food manufacturing are given ‘E numbers’ by the European Food Safety Authority after they pass all safety checks. Food manufacturers are required to indicate the E numbers of any food additive they use when listing the product’s ingredients and some go further to explain what they mean. There have been safety concerns with use of certain food additives in recent times with some additives even being banned due to their alleged cancer-causing effects when consumed.
A popular saying; ‘You are what you eat‘ emphasizes that it is in one’s own interest to know what they ingest into their body. Aside personal hygiene and general cleanliness which may cause food contamination and illness, our health mainly relies in the ingredient composition of the foods we consume.
Are you consuming foods prepared from safe ingredients, or do you care less once its appealing to the eyes and tastes good?
Being interested in what goes into the food you consume gives you an upper hand in deciding whether to stick or boycott that product, and makes you take charge of your own health and lifestyle.
If you are willing to consume it,
You should be interested in what it was made from.