Food Facts verifies Ingredients before we label them as Controversial. All of our controversial ingredients are highlighted in orange to help you easily identify them. You can also click on them for more information.
Information comes from FDA (Food and Drug Administration), CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest), other nations (Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany) institutions of higher learning, medical institutions and other independent, non-biased groups.
We will not state that you can’t eat any foods or ingredients, since we have a responsibility to impartially inform you what others are claiming.
Food Facts forms an expert and independent consensus. For example – while the FDA classifies food dyes as “GRAS,” or “Generally Recognized as Safe,” the Food Standards Agency (FSA) of the United Kingdom believes there is a possible link to hyperactivity in children. We therefore rate food dyes as Controversial to inform our members that the scientific and medical community does not have a consensus on the safety of this ingredient.
The FDA standard for labeling a product as “gluten-free” are that it contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten. This number is safe to consume for many, but not all persons sensitive to gluten. Therefore, unless the company has been evaluated by an organization with higher standards or the manufacturer asserts that it is 100% gluten free, we prefer to alert our more sensitive customers that they may have a reaction to this product.
Unfortunately, the FDA does not require potassium to be disclosed on nutrition labels, and we cannot estimate or guess what may be in a product without compromising our dedication to accurate information. Therefore, if the manufacturer does not disclose the Potassium levels, we leave the potassium blank.
We regard the possible inclusion of free glutamic acids as a potential MSG ingredient, as the free glutamic acids are what may cause adverse reactions in those sensitive to MSG. While the FDA rules regarding labeling and glutamic acid are lax, other governments, such as Canada, recognize the potential issues for certain individuals and prohibits the use of “MSG Free” on any product unless it can be proven that there are no detectable glutamates in the product; this includes natural sources of free glutamates such as tomatoes and grapes (Source).
These can all cause reactions in those sensitive to glutamates, which is why we label it with an MSG icon – so that those sensitive to glutamates will have all relevant information available to them. We consider information from all major health sources, such as research institutes and governmental agencies (both US and foreign), when determining what may or may not be controversial.
Recently manufacturers were required to put trans fat ratings on their food labels; however, the labeling requirements state that amounts of trans fat less than 0.5 grams per serving can be placed on the food label as 0 grams trans fat. A manufacturer can avoid listing trans fats by keeping the serving size on the nutrition label small. Trans fats are found in hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated oils.
We aren’t the manufacturer; in fact, we don’t produce any of the items on our site. The manufacturer is listed on the Product Page, along with the brand name.
We collect our information either from the product’s nutrition label and ingredient lists, or from the manufacturer directly. While accurate and up-to-date listings are our highest priority, manufacturers do change their formulations from time to time, so there are occasions when our listings may be out of date. We recommend always reviewing a product label for allergens or other ingredients that trigger sensitivities. As always, if you find a score that may be incorrect or a product not yet added to our database, please feel free to contact us.
That icon will now accompany any product on our site that does not have a full ingredients list due to the manufacturer’s decision not to disclose it. This happens when a manufacturer chooses not to disclose the ingredients in their product. Without being able to judge ingredient quality, we cannot offer an accurate score, but we want our members to know that it was researched. In fact, the lack of disclosure and transparency is controversial to us, which is why we also say “caution.”
As always, our commitment is to providing you, our members, with accurate and important nutrition information about the food products you purchase for yourself and you family. That’s why we’re choosing to alert you to the fact that a manufacturer is not disclosing their ingredients.
The foodfacts.com Health Score is calculated using a unique, patent-pending algorithm that combines traditional measures of nutrition facts along with quality of ingredients, while excluding any personal bias or prejudice. No manufacturers have an input on our score, the product’s taste is not a consideration, and we don’t score comparatively to other products. The score is not meant to be a final judgment on a product, but a guideline to help consumers navigate the often confusing world of ingredient lists and nutritional labels.
You can use the “Disagree with this Score” link on the product page, or send an email directly to info@FoodFacts.com with the product’s link or UPC. We’ll correct the product as soon as possible. Please note that it takes our system one day to update.
Unfortunately, the FDA does not require manufacturers to disclose whether their products or ingredients include Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). Therefore, it is not possible for us to indicate whether a product is or is not GMO, because there are no consistent guidelines or standards. The best way to ensure that a product is or isn’t GMO is by contacting the manufacturer directly. Hopefully, more transparent GMO labeling will be required in the future so that consumers can make their own informed decisions about their food. At that time, you can be sure that FoodFacts.com will indicate the GMO status of a product, but for now, that information simply isn’t available if the manufacturer does not want to provide it.