IT'S ALL ON THE LABEL: Understanding Food, Additives, and Nutrition by Zenas Block

IT'S ALL ON THE LABEL: Understanding Food, Additives, and Nutrition

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A ""food technologist"" tells how our foods are processed, and with what--information valuable even for additive-shunning readers who totally reject his justifications for them. In the first chapters, Block takes up food laws, food safety, methods of food preparation, and nutritional supplementation (often via additives--such as iodine in salt or vitamin D in milk). As initially presented, the Food, Drug. and Cosmetic Act standards for naming foods, listing ingredients, specifying quantities, and identifying additives sound vague and wide-open; but in later sections, as Block looks at each food category--milk products, breads, meat/poultry/fish--and describes how these foods are produced, the ramifications of the standards become clearer. When one understands the labels, what then? Block's personal philosophy on avoiding the dangers of additives is a sound one: don't eat too much of any single food, vary your diet generally, and avoid those substances about which least is known. More problematic are the ""needs"" he cites for additives: city living has removed most of us from food sources, so we need additives to preserve foods and to improve their taste, appearance, and nutritional quality; working women, in particular, ""need and desire"" convenience foods; our medical knowledge requires the development of low-cholesterol foods. But Block is also indulgent of artificial coloring because ""in some cases""--like maraschino cherries--""there would probably be no market for the product without added color."" Block limits himself, moreover, to processed foods (there is no comparison, for instance, between homemade and store bread) and doesn't really concern himself with ""incidental additives"" like pesticides (he'd simply have us wash foods well and await future safety measures). Beware the disregard for alternatives, then, but take the rest for its considerable worth.

Pub Date: Nov. 17th, 1981
Publisher: Little, Brown