What’s in a word? The language of food labels

11 common words with very specific meanings on food labels

One of the responsibilities of the Food and Drug Administration is to assure that foods are labeled properly. It provides regulations on what, where, and how prominently information should be placed on packaging. The idea is that consumers should not be misled by what they read on the groceries they buy. However, the labels should also be written in plain, understandable language. This means that sometimes regular English words — words that have commonsense but slightly fuzzy meanings — must be defined more precisely for food labeling. Here are 11 words that mean something more specific on the supermarket shelves.

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Dr. Stegall’s comments: Reading nutrition labels is essential when it comes to optimizing health. A few simple guidelines are as follows:

  • Strive to eat foods with as few ingredients as possible
  • Make sure you can pronounce all of the ingredients and know what they are
  • Don’t be fooled into thinking that terms such as low fat, low sodium, and natural mean that a food is good for you

In addition, it is important to become familiar with macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Understanding the composition of the food you eat, including where it came from, is a vital part of an effective anti-cancer nutrition plan.


What is GMO?

A GMO, or genetically modified organism, is a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified using recombinant DNA methods (also called gene splicing), gene modification or transgenic technology. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.

Genetic modification affects many of the products we consume on a daily basis. As the number of GMOs available for commercial use grows every year, the Non-GMO Project works diligently to provide the most accurate, up-to-date standards for non-GMO verification.

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Dr. Stegall’s comments: GMOs are an increasingly scary problem in our food supply today. Eating as few GMO foods as possible is a necessary goal to strive for, especially since we are learning more and more about how damaging GMOs are to our health. All food is NOT created equal!


What does “Certified Naturally Grown” mean?

CNG farmers don’t use any synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, or genetically modified organisms. CNG livestock are raised mostly on pasture and with space for freedom of movement. Feed must be grown without synthetic inputs or genetically modified seeds.

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Dr. Stegall’s comments: Eating as organic and non-GMO as possible takes effort, and typically costs more in the short-term, but pays huge dividends in the long-term. Do not be fooled by the marketing campaigns of large food companies which tell you that there is nothing wrong with pesticides, herbicides, and genetically modified foods! These foods are harmful to the body, and are not providing us the optimal fuels we need.