Food additives: labeling

In principle, additives and flavors that are produced directly from genetically modified organisms must be labeled. For example, lecithin (E 322), which serves as an emulsifier in ice cream or chocolate to stabilize fat in water mixtures, is often made from soybeans. Meanwhile, soy is often genetically modified to make the plant resistant to pathogens. The EU imports between 35 and 40 million tonnes of soya and soya from the USA, Argentina and Brazil each year.

Labeling of genetically modified ingredients

All food and ingredients that are wholly or partly made from genetically modified corn or soya must be labeled on their label. In the list of ingredients of chocolate bars or ready soups may be so read in the future may be:

  • "made from genetically modified maize" or
  • "contains vegetable fat made from genetically modified soybeans".

Unfortunately, the labeling requirement for additives, vitamins and aromas produced with genetically modified microorganisms (for example xanthan [E 415]) is not clearly regulated. At present, such substances are not specially marked.

Incomplete list of ingredients despite labeling

For most people, reading the list of ingredients means nothing but guesswork. Above all, it is problematic that, for example, on the list of ingredients of a fruit yoghurt or quark, nothing can be found about the preservatives contained, if the proportion of the fruit preparation is less than 25 percent. In fact, additives need not be declared if they are introduced into a food through individual ingredients. If you want to be sure, you should pay attention to the additional label "without preservatives".

For a whole range of packaged foods, no list of ingredients is needed at all:

  • Alcoholic beverages with more than 1.2% by volume (exception: beer)
  • Cocoa, chocolate, chocolates
  • Food in very small packaging
  • Condensed and dry milk products

For loosely sold foods, it is currently sufficient if on a sign only the group name of an additive is stated: "with dye / with preservatives / contains flavor enhancers / sulfurized / waxed" then succinctly. That is why the consumer groups rightly demand improvements - a complete and clear labeling of foodstuffs would not be too much.

For product groups not subject to labeling, preference should be given to manufacturers who voluntarily label their products.

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