People started adding natural substances (salt, sugar, vinegar, etc.) to food hundreds and even thousands of years ago to better preserve it and to lengthen shelf life. Today, food additives aren’t just used to preserve foodstuffs, but also to maintain appearance, flavour, texture, freshness, constitution, and even nutritional value. Industry demand is constantly growing as there are increasingly more processed foods in supermarkets and convenience shops.
On the other hand, consumers demand that food additives be increasingly more natural, that they not be used unnecessarily, and demand to know the composition of the foods they are buying by means of clear, easy to understand labelling. Functional ingredients are accepted as a kind of necessary evil in order to ensure access to certain foods that, in other circumstances, would be impossible to consume. At the same time, people demand that more natural additives replace traditional ones that are commonly, and in many cases incorrectly, perceived as harmful.
Let’s start from a technical basis: all authorised additives used in the food industry are safe, and the competent authorities (EFSA in Europe) establish acceptable quantities for daily intake to define limits for the addition of such additives to foodstuffs. That said, it is also true that functional ingredient manufacturers are constantly innovating to develop increasingly more natural additives, such as those made of natural plant fibres, which offer the same functions as traditional additives, are perceived as being healthier, and which simultaneously improve the nutritional properties of the food products in question.
Clean Label is an initiative that answers consumer demand for clear and trustworthy information about the composition of the foods people eat. It’s not about trusting claims printed on labels that may be more or less misleading, such as “no preservatives or artificial colours”, “no artificial ingredients”, or “100% natural”. It’s about using objective analyses and evaluations to determine the true composition of a food, thereby educating consumers on what they are eating.
We believe that is the key to clean labelling: educating consumers to be aware of what they are buying and eating, thus stripping away false assumptions and ambiguous messages. Consumers choose products more often from companies that they believe to be environmentally- and sustainably-minded, and Clean Label is proof of that.
At Barcelonesa Food Solutions, we collaborate on the project of sustainability by researching and developing ever more natural and healthy formulas, transforming functional ingredients into a true added value in food processing.