If you’re like the 50 percent of Americans who look at the ingredient list before you buy, then you know how difficult it can be to know what the ingredients in our food products do and why food additives are there in first place.
Food additives and ingredients sometimes have mystifying names. At times, they can be overwhelming and hard to pronounce. Other times, we can be mystified by the roles they play in the foods and beverages we consume. So, a little extra knowledge can go a long way toward making you an empowered consumer.
To get a small “taste” of what you know, we’ve come up with the Test Your Food I.Q. Ingredient Quiz for you to test your knowledge and learn more about food ingredients. Whether your score is high or leaves room to learn more, this quiz will guide you to resources where you can get more information about the foods we eat.
Before you take the plunge and test your Food I.Q., here are a few facts you’ll already want to know. They may come in handy as you test your knowledge about food ingredients.
- Did you know that all food additives and ingredients used in today’s American food supply are safe? That’s due to the rigorous safety evaluations in place by U.S. food regulators to ensure that these additives and ingredients are safe to eat. Many of them are considered what’s known as GRAS, or “generally recognized as safe.” GRAS is the Food and Drug Administration’s voluntary safety evaluation that confirms the safe use of many additives via scientific evidence and expert review.
- Also, just because you might not be able to pronounce the name of an ingredient or don’t quite know what it does within a food, that need not make you avoid it altogether. Many of our favorite and familiar foods are made with the same ingredients we use at home every day. For example, when you see ascorbic acid on the ingredient list, don’t be alarmed—it’s only vitamin C! It’s been added as a preservative to extend product quality and freshness.
- Did you know that sodium (salt) does more than just add flavor? Sodium is present in food for many reasons. In addition to enhancing safety (sodium reduces the risk of microbial growth), it acts as a preservative by keeping food fresher for longer periods of time. Sodium also adds flavor while improving texture and appearance.
- Did you know that up to 400mg of caffeine is safe to consume for the average individual? The FDA cites 400mg as the amount not associated with any adverse health effects of caffeine consumption. If you do the math, that’s about 4–5 cups of coffee per day.
Now that you’ve had a chance to review what you already knew or to learn something new, it’s time to take the plunge and test your food ingredient I.Q. Each time you take the quiz you will receive a score. Get them all correct, and you’re on your way to becoming a consumer expert. Be sure to share the quiz with friends, family, and co-workers. Most importantly, share your knowledge about food ingredients with others. Enjoy the quiz and have fun with its resources. And be sure to post your results on social media, too!