How To Find Clean Label Foods And Why You Should

Wondering how to find clean label foods? Clean labels are an incredible step forward in food production transparency and overall health.

What Are Clean Labels?

The clean label trend is a consumer-led initiative intended to promote the removal of preservatives and artificial additives from our foods. The trend-turned-demand has had a massive impact on food manufacturing, with brands like Mars, Nestle, and Campbell Soup transitioning to ingredient lists free of artificial food additives for their iconic and widespread products. If this isn’t proof of the power consumers wield, it’s hard to say what is.

Clean label ingredients are packaged goods produced by manufacturers who’ve committed to making food production more transparent for consumers. While there are no hard and fast requirements to be a “clean label,” it essentially comes down to providing a food label that can be read and understood by the everyday consumer. Typically this kind of label comprises of a short list of recognizable ingredients that are generally deemed safe by the public (not just a third-party organization like the FDA).

For example, below are ingredients lists for two different peanut butters. Can you tell which one has a clean label?

  • Made from Roasted Peanuts and Sugar, Contains 2% or Less: Molasses, Fully Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils (Rapeseed and Soybean), Mono and Diglycerides, Salt.
  • Peanuts, Salt.

How about these two bread ingredient lists?

  • Enriched wheat flour, Water*, Sugar, Soybean and/or Canola Oil, Yeast*, Salt, Defatted Soy Flour, Wheat Gluten*, Calcium Propionate, Sodium Stearoyl-2-Lactylate, Sorbic Acid, Vegetable Monoglycerides.
  • Organic Sprouted Wheat, Filtered Water, Organic Sprouted Barley, Organic Sprouted Millet, Organic Malted Barley, Organic Sprouted Lentils, Organic Sprouted Soybeans, Organic Sprouted Spelt, Yeast, Organic Wheat Gluten, Sea Salt.

This second example is where things can get tricky. As more of a description of a consumer preference rather than a defined list of rules, clean labels can mean different things to different people. Where typically most consumers might look for ingredients lists with the least amount of listed components as a general rule of thumb, many consumers would still consider the second bread as having a clean label because the list is easy to read and free of any controversial substances, made clear by the obvious and familiar list of foods. Everyone knows what barley, wheat, soybeans, and lentils are.

Regulations, Certifications, And Marketing Ploys

As “clean label” isn’t a regulated term, there aren’t any standards food manufacturers have to meet in order to use it, or its leaner counterpart, “clean.” Because of this, these terms (and others like “natural” and “healthy”) are sometimes used by companies as marketing jargon to promote their product within health-conscious markets despite not practicing what they preach. The good news is, the entire essence of the trend is to keep things simple. So a brand that touts its clean label ways while producing foods filled with unpronounceable chemical fillers and artificial preservatives are easily spotted and won’t last on shelves long.

To find real clean label foods, it will come down to getting familiar with the brands, whether they be suppliers or producers, who’ve committed to holistically changing their practices. Shopping at health-conscious grocery stores is a great starting point. Organic foods are also a great way to narrow your search as Organic is a regulated term. Many of the biggest culprits lurking in grocery foods like the preservatives BHA and BHT are banned from any certified Organic foods. While Organic and clean label foods are not the same, and just because something isn’t Organic doesn’t mean it can’t have a clean label, such certifications can help guide your search as these products’ manufacturers are already conscious of (and held accountable for) the ingredients they use.

Why Clean Labels Are Worth The Search

Ultimately, clean labels are a powerful tool that are making space for consumers to reclaim control over their food, their well-being, and the well-being of their families and communities. By putting your purchasing power behind brands that align the quality of their products with your hopes for the future of food, health, and business, you have the ability to create that world for the coming generations. Clean labels are an incredible step forward in food production transparency and overall societal health, and a single step in the right direction is always worth the extra effort.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.