Educate yourself on food labels

Educate yourself on food labels

Robin Foroutan and Stephanie Mandel by Robin Foroutan and Stephanie Mandel

Educate yourself on food labels

August 14, 2018

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don't always believe the hype

Always read labels before you buy. If the ingredients read like a science experiment, don't eat it.

watch out!



> The FDA has no rules or regulations on what qualifies a product as "natural." The term can be slapped on any product, and it assures nothing: consider it a meaningless buzzword, except when on meats.

watch out!

naturally raised

According to the USDA definition, meats that are ‘natural’ do not contain artificial ingredients or preservatives and the ingredients are only minimally processed. However, they may contain antibiotics, growth hormones, and other chemicals.
watch out!

natural flavours

> Usually found on an ingredient list, ‘natural flavours’ can be a chemical that was originally found in a naturally occurring source (from a plant or animal). It is an ingredient that has been processed so much that it can no longer be listed on labels in its original form. Also not regulated by the FDA.

watch out!


low fat

low carb

0 calories


Check for added sugar or artificial sweeteners, like aspartame and sucralose. 
watch out!

no trans fat!

> When the Nutrition Facts label says a food contains “0 g” of trans fat, but includes “partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredient list, it means the food contains trans fat, but less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving.

Know your food labels
USDA organic

USDA certified organic provides the most protective certification today for how your food is produced, raised or prepared:
- Crops are grown without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or sewage sludge, and they are non-GMO and non-irradiated
- Animals only eat organically-grown feed and are not treated with hormones or antibiotics. They are given access to outdoors, and hoofed animals have access to a pasture. Animals cannot be cloned.


> If a product is labelled organic but without the USDA Certified Organic seal on it, it only has to meet the requirements of being at least 70% organic. Most food producers call out what is and are not organic in the ingredients list with an asterisk (*).

NON GMO project verified


A definition from the Non-GMO Project website: Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering. This creates combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.

Non-GMO is a tricky one. We don't know what the future of GMOs will tell us, and this is concerning. They are currently used to help farmers and producers maintain their crops, though in many cases, more pesticides must be used in the process. Even though we are unsure of the effects of GMOs in our food, they have yet to be proven safe in the long term.

No added hormones
> Federal law has prohibited hormone use on pork or poultry for some time now, so if you see this on your chicken breast or bacon labelling, it is likely there to mislead you into thinking it's not a standardized practice already, possibly put there to warrant a higher price tag.

Law does permit hormone use on beef and dairy. Look for "rBGH-free” or “rBST-free” labels on products.

Raised without antibiotics

>  Some conventional food producers use low-level antibiotics throughout the animal's lifetime to prevent disease. With today's serious threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria spreading, it is best to avoid consuming antibiotics unknowingly through our food.

American grassfed

Grass fed means that after weaning, the animal's primary source of food comes from foraging grass, rather than grains or corn. This is not a government regulated claim and does not ensure antibiotics or hormones were not used on the animal, so check your labels or go organic.

Pasture raised

> Although there are no government standards for this labelling, animals that were “pasture-raised” or “pastured” most likely were raised in a healthier way than "cage-free" or "free range." It guarantees they spent some time in their life outdoors.  Keep in mind, without any regulation, it isn't required for producers to reveal how long they spent on the pasture.


Certified Cage Free Farm Eggs
free range eggs
> You're imagining a natural farm scene where chickens are roaming freely, right? This is most likely not the case. Again regulations are very loose for this labelling, it could mean that the birds are outside of cages but in an overcrowded factory farm warehouse, with 'access to outdoors' but never really allowed outside.

BPA free

> BPA (bisphenol A) is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins.

BPA plastics are marked on packaging with:

BPA plastics

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) declares BPA a "chemical for concern" and it has been banned in the use of baby products in most states. Consuming it affects your estrogen levels, and according to the Journal of the American Medical Associated, “higher BPA levels were significantly associated with heart disease, diabetes and abnormally higher levels of some liver enzymes.”

"BPA-free" isn't a guarantee that your container is safe; the new plastics that are replacing BPA today could very well be toxic too. It is best to avoid plastics in general and use glass, ceramic or stainless steel instead.  Do not put food in plastic containers (or use plastic wrap to cover food) in the microwave.

Stay tuned for more details on perilous plastics in an upcoming article.


This guide was written by Dr. Morrison and the health and nutrition experts at The Morrison Center. Our team is dedicated to helping you achieve optimal health through the treatment and prevention of disease.



Dr. Jeffrey Morrison is an award-winning medical doctor, a leader in the field of Integrative Medicine, and champion of a nutritional approach to healthcare



Robin is a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in Integrative Medicine, Functional Medicine and holistic healing modalities. She helps her clients address complicated conditions and return to wellness.



Stephanie is a Holistic Nutrition Consultant and Emotional Freedom Technique practitioner with a passion for helping her clients fulfill their potential through both emotional and physical optimization.



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