Label lies


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I wouldn't pick up any food package and trust it completely. I would approach it with caution says Nutritionist Judie Davie.

Our supermarket shelves are groaning with packaged foods, most so processed, their ingredients list goes on and on

Sugar, wheat flour, vegetable oil, milk solids, coco butter, coco mass, golden syrup, colours, coco emulsifiers, salt, raising agents.

Nutritionist, Judy Davie, author of a recently released guide, "Read the Label", says shoppers need help - to know what our foods really contain, whether they're good or bad for us. Her book's an eye-opener, a dictionary to decipher food codes and all those chemical names on food labels.

‘’Additives, additives, additives that's all you get here, reading food labels is the start of it but you really need to understand the game of reading food labels and learn how to navigate your way around food packaging and understood what needs to be read’’ says Judy Davie.

Judy says labels are the key to what's good and what should be left on the shelf, in breads, drinks, nuts, pasta, noodles, meats and tinned vegies, snacks - she doesn't mince words.

‘’Soft drinks, eliminate them completely from the diet, you can see even before you get to the label that they are rubbish. You can see by the colour that they are rubbish.

What should we look for when buying bread? Soft, squishy light and white virtually nothing of any value. White flour bit of water, bit of nothing else and it has preservatives, not useful they can cause skin irritations and behavioural problems. Look for grains, full grain bread 4 times the amount of fibre, it has a low GI logo here, that gives more energy for a longer time. So go for the darker breads with grain and avoid the soft squishy white ones’’ says Judy Davie.

Kills brain cells, may cause irritability, nausea, heart palpitations, tummy pain, depression, headaches. You'd think it'd be thumbs up for fruit and nuts, but the labels can reveal some hidden shockers, a raft of fake colourings and mono sodium glutamate. Flavour enhancers, Judy claims can potentially kill brain cells and more.

‘’Smoked almonds and wasabi peas, they are full of MSC, and they have colourings in them, so do these red peanuts. Apricots and coconut, you would think they are good, but they have added sugar, three different types of added sugar and they have colourings in them. Apricots alone are good. These are not good. These are, low cholesterol mix is fine, walnuts, dried fruit are a great snack’’ says Judy Davie.

The ingredient list often tells a completely different story. Previously, we've uncovered staggering supermarket food fibs - an investigation revealed 4 out of 5 items, that's 16,000 out of 20,000 supermarket products tell clever outright lies in their claims.

‘’We have this particularly in the area of fruit juice labelling where we see the headline label indicates the product may well be cranberry juice or banana juice when in fact the substantial part of the constituent product is apple juice which is relatively cheap to include’’ says Judy Davie.

Nudie Foods Australia was caught out by the ACCC and prosecuted for misleading advertising. Rosie Ruby claimed to be solely or mostly cranberry, when it was found to be eighty percent reconstituted apple juice. Rosie Blue claimed it was solely or mostly cranberry and blueberry when it was seventy eight percent apple juice.

‘’Don't oversell and under-deliver, don't mislead and deceive, low fat low sugar that is what I'm looking for,’’ says Samuel from Food Fibs.

Ingredients are listed in descending order of weight, so those at the top of the list are the main ingredients. Check them when comparing peanut butters.

‘’Avoid any with antioxidant and then look for the one with the most number of peanuts then look for the one per 1000gm that has the least amount of sugar and salt which is called sodium.

These chocolate biscuits have only thirty eight percent chocolate and a raft of other ingredients, including as the first ingredient you read on the ingredient list is sugar. We have five different colours to make these biscuits more attractive,’’ says Judy Davie.

Prepared meats and filled pastas - ever checked how much meat they really contain?

‘’Two types of crumbed chicken this has only got fifty percent chicken and this here has artificial flavours, monosodium glutamate and colours, you are only getting in this case only about seventeen percent beef which is very little, as well you are also getting preservatives, the ones we talked about in bread, 282, and in some instances a whole host of MSG’s and other artificial flavours. In some you are getting over half the recommended upper limit of sodium in one serve and that's just far too much’’ says Judy Davie.

‘’Watch out for flavour sachets. Labels often claim a food is natural, no colours, preservatives or artificial flavours, but sometimes sachets can be full of additives, pick them up look at the label, look for colours that begin with no one’s. The majority are bad for you avoid them if you can’’ says Judy Davie.

Judy says lots of cake mixes, muesli bars, savoury biscuits and sauces are choc full of artificial colourings and flavours, but there are some packaged foods, especially tinned and frozen vegetables and fruit she recommends.

‘’Reading the label is to understand which of these pack foods is worth picking up and which you should leave well and truly behind,’’ says Judy Davie.

For further information on “Read the Label" -- The complete Guide to buying the best Food in Australian Shops”, by Judy Davie, visit the publisher, Random House Australia website at: