Podcast # 14 Read Your Product Labels: It might have changed

By JM Davis

Food Labeling


It Might Have Changed, and You Don’t Even Know It.

Full Show notes below.

Hello, I’m Janet Davis and welcome to Food Plus Freedom Podcast. Today is January 19th, 2024. Happy Friday!

This is Episode 14. Read your product label: It might have changed and you don’t even know it. To those who are having really cold weather, stay warm and stay safe and make sure you have the right gear.

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Whoo, that was a mouth full.

Don’t forget to wait until the end of the podcast for a quick tip of the day.
Now on with the show.

Read your product label: It might have changed and you don’t even know it.
Yes, this sound very scary, but it’s unfortunately true.

How many times do you read labels? Okay, let me rephrase that. How many times do you read the label of products you have bought forever? Products you have read the label before and you trust them.

Be honest. I’ll be honest, if I am buying a product that I’ve bought over and over again. I’ve read the label before. ANd I’m still buying it. I don’t tend to look at the label, unless the label looks different. I’ve gotten lazy and have not always read the label. Well, let’s not use the word lazy but trustful.

Then when I get home and I’m putting away the item away or when I throw out the package, I might look at it and say “oh crap”. The ingredients had changed, but that package hadn’t and I was unaware.

See, when packaging changes, it makes most label readers go hmm something’s different on this package. I need to read the ingredients, even if it’s subconscious and we read it.

Changes in ingredient in your products are not only changing without you realizing it, but changing without you being told. And when I say product, I mean everything. Your food, cleaning supplies, laundry, shampoo, body soap, vitamins, etc. I used to have a little bit of confidence that a manufacturer had to tell us when a product had changed, but is no longer true.

This past year I was amazed to find “natural flavors” in my organic unsalted butter. It wasn’t all brands but a majority of them. I’m thinking what flavors are they adding to butter? This made no sense to me, not at all because all butter is cream that’s been beat and whipped until, well, it’s butter. If it’s salted, you add salt. If it’s not salted, you don’t. Very simple. Apparently someone decided that unsalted butter needed to taste like something else. And the label didn’t even say what the natural flavors were. I’m thinking what other flavor can you put in there, more cream, butter flavor? Still, this didn’t make any sense to me. What the heck are they putting into the unsalted butter for flavoring?

Well, I had to go and investigate.

And what is natural flavors anyhow? According to the USDA and I’m going to read this directly from their site. And yes, all links are in the show notes at foodplusfreedom.com.

It says As of July 2019. https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/What-does-natural-flavoring-mean-on-a-label, The article’s name is “What does natural flavoring mean on a label?” If you want to search for it. Natural flavors are “Spices (e.g., black pepper, basil, and ginger), spice extracts, essential oils, oleoresins, (don’t know if I am pronouncing that correctly) onion powder, garlic powder, celery powder, onion juice, and garlic juice are all ingredients that may be declared on labeling as “natural flavor,” “flavor,” or “flavoring.” Spices, oleoresins, essential oils, and spice extracts are listed in the Food and Drug Administration regulations.”

And what in the world is Oleoresins? As I said, I don’t even know if I’m pronouncing it right but it’s spelled O-l-e-o-r-e-s-i-n-s. After searching online for this word I found a lot of different informations. I finally wrote it down from Wikipedia. No, I don’t think it’s the best source. But it was saying what everyone else was saying. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oleoresin) “It is a semi-solid extract composed of resin and essential or fatty oil, obtained by evaporation of the solvents used for their production Oleoresins are concentrated plant extracts from plants, spices and herbs which have been studied as food additives”. What is that?! Also, some are used in food, perfumes and even tear gas. I still don’t feel like I got an answer. But you can decide.

And the USDA does have another section of natural flavoring for meat, fish and poultry. But guess what “Natural flavors” means you don’t know what flavor that is. What happens if you’re allergic to it? Yes, I suppose natural flavors are 100% better than artificial flavors, but depending on where you are in life you probably don’t want either one of them.

Anyhow, I went on a little bit of a rant. The point is this. Why is there natural flavors in my butter? How did it get there? When did they start putting it there? And I had better start reading all of my labels again. When I make butter, it’s just good old cream beat into butter. Natural flavors doesn’t belong there. The packaging hadn’t changed, natural flavors was just slipped in. I will confess I knew companies were adding “natural flavoring” to butter because I’ve looked at different brands and saw it. These brands weren’t organic, and I just brushed it off, because I wasn’t going to buy them anyhow. But here’s a good lesson for everyone, just because food is deemed organic doesn’t mean there isn’t crap in it. We can’t be comfortable just buying organic anymore. We need to read labels.

I felt some relief that the company had to let me know the product ingredients had changed. As I said, I found comfort in this. But I just needed to read the label. Then I found on the FDA site a download https://www.fda.gov/media/138315/download
Temporary Policy Regarding Certain Food Labeling Requirements During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: Minor Formulation. There is a link to this download through the Food Plus Freedom website on the show notes of this podcast.

In a nutshell. And please read it yourself. Make your own opinion about it.
It was dated, May 2020, with an intended to remain in effect until November 7, 2023. Yes, we are past 2023. Yes, we are past that date, but listen on.
For further information, refer to 88 FR 15417, March 13, 2023.Changes and Vending Machines

In a nut shell, the regulation gives food manufacturer and vending machines leeways on their labeling due to the government’s health emergency. It was to end 180 after the end of the declared health emergency or November 7, 2023, unless the document was updated. I did not find an updated document.

If the manufacturer had changed the food product less than 2 percent, the label didn’t need to be changed. Before this was enacted, any changes to ingredients had to be changed on the label prior to packaging and selling. Though they encouraged companies to put information on their website or through a QR code to warn the public. You may not believe it, but not everyone owns a smart phone, and if they do, they don’t know how to use it with a QR code. Don’t laugh, but my 82-year-old mother wouldn’t know how to use it. And I bet my 20-year-old grandson who is learning to read labels, just wouldn’t bother with using the QR code, it meant he would have to do one more thing. So they hide the information.

The document further says that characteristics, nutrition and claims on the label could not be affected by the omission or substitutions of ingredients. For example, if the product was made with real butter, it still had to have real butter in it. The manufacturer couldn’t just change the ingredients to flavored butter and not change the label. The ingredient change also shouldn’t include high allergen food such as peanuts, shellfish etc. if they weren’t already in the product.

If they had to substitute an ingredient from a different part of the world, the company didn’t have to change the label either. Like California raisins could be substituted with any other raisin from anywhere in the world.
If you’re interested in all the details, go read it for yourself. I think it’s important for everyone to find information from the source and then make their own conclusions.

If you’re thinking well, it’s past November 2023. You are correct, but any items made prior to this date falls into this regulation. Even if they don’t hit our shelves for months. For instance, and not that candy and goodies are a good thing buy, and hopefully most of us aren’t buying that stuff anymore, but this is January and Valentine’s candy is already on the shelves. In fact, it was starting to get on the shelves right around Christmas. It was made months ago. And that Easter candy you’ll see come out in a few weeks or so was made 6 or more months ago, which means all of that food was made before the end of this regulation. And we really don’t know how far in advance companies make food and then store it. The other thing to think about is how many times could the company change 2% and still fall within the regulation?
I have no idea.

So read read read read your food labels. And try as hard as you can to get off of all processed food, especially from the stores. Make sure you check simple items such as butter, yeast, and baking soda too. I’ve found extra ingredients in yeast just the other day and I am now going on a hunt for that information.

If you’re just starting out or on your food label reading journey, here’s a few tips on what to stay away from.

  • Look to eliminate any terms you can’t pronounce or need to look up. Please look them up so you know what they are, but beware.
  • Stay away from any dyes. All those beautiful colors from red # whatever yellow #, green # blue # etc. They are all petroleum based and many are genetically engineered.
  • Stay away from anything that says genetically engineered. Remember what you put into your body becomes your body.
  • There are some dyes that are natural coloring and flavoring such as beet juice, look for those.
  • Stay away from high fructose corn syrup (HFC) and corn syrup, besides they aren’t good for you, they help you gain weight among other things. If they aren’t organic, they are genetically bioengineered, genetically modified and sprayed with high doses of chemicals.
  • Avoid three letter acronyms lik BHA or BHT is a food preservative that is used to prevent the oxidation and spoilage of fats and oils in food.
  • And avoid artificial flavoring and natural flavoring, because you don’ tknow what it really is.
    Start out bit by bit. Learn a little bit at a time and start your journey or continue your journey onhealthier eating.
    You can do it. You don’t have to fall into the trap of crap in your food.

If you want cookies, find a mom and pop bakery if you don’t want to make them yourself. A place you can ask about the ingredients or know they bake from scratch. Or find someone to make them for you and barter. You can do it, for your health, and your freedom.

Remember, homesteading is a peace of mind not a piece of land and everyone can do it.
This is Janet Davis from Food Plus Freedom, Thank you for listening, please subscribe to our podcast and newsletter. And hang tight for the quick tip of this show.

Here goes your quick tip!
What do you do when block cheese goes on sale? Well you buy more of it of course.
If you’re concerned about how you’re going to store your cheese, freeze it. Yep youheard me right freze it. It’s the best choice you can use for long term storage.

It’s best if you freeze block cheese in it’s original packaging, because the air is already sucked out and that means minimizing freezer burn and growth, and any other issues you might have with cheese. If you need to use part the block or you buy a giante 6 pound block and you want to cut it up. Then make sure the part you are freezing is in an air tight container or use a vacuum sealer.

Now whenyou defrosting the cheese the key is to let it defrost slowly or you’re going to have a crumbly mess. And the best way to do that is in your refrigerator. ecause as it thaws it stays in it’s natural state. You may still have some crumbeling when you grate it, but not as much.
And never nee never put your frozen cheese in warm water to defrost. The cheese might start cooking and it definitely changes the texture. It becomes warm and soft. the ends can become gooey because you’re melting the cheese.

And if you’re wondering about using your microwave on defrost. I have no idea because we haven’t had a microwave for many many years. But I don’t think I’d want to try it, because you’re still melting the cheese.

Now you know. Until next week!
Grow Food – Buy Local and Gain Freedom

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