Understanding the Various Labels on Frozen Food Packaging

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Not so long ago, the invention of TV dinners made life in the American household substantially easier, and that carried on to become the frozen food aisle we know today. In those early years, frozen food was likely made with real ingredients, but over time due to manufacturing processes we saw more and more preservatives and fillers. This led to a general distrust towards frozen food in the last few decades, and only recently have we started to see healthier freezer meals become available.


In the time that frozen food has become what it is today, packaging has also developed immensely and can be a tad confusing nowadays. Understanding exactly what is meant by labels like gluten free freezer meals or non-GMO foods is important in feeding your family the right food. It's especially important when your family has any allergies, or dietary restrictions, so feel free to share this with them or print it out to stick on the fridge.


Here is a guide to understanding the various labels on frozen food packaging, and things you should look for.

Gluten Free

This is of the utmost importance to those households with people who either have celiac disease or even a gluten intolerance. Gluten free freezer meals and products are on the rise, largely due to the broader variety of ingredients available today. 


They are also gaining popularity as more people take on the gluten free diet for other reasons, which is generally advised against. Although, there are many foods out there which don’t necessarily need to contain gluten, for example frozen veggie burger patties. 


By opting for gluten free freezer meals and products, even if you don’t need gluten free food, you can give yourself the chance to enjoy healthier forms of gluten such as whole grain bread and cereal.

Soy Free

Despite being celebrated as one of the best plant-based protein sources available, soy still has a controversial place in the modern diet. Many Asian countries depend on tofu as their source of plant-based protein, especially in places where vegetarianism is a part of the religion. Although in the West, soy products like tofu and soy milk became trendy in the nineties and noughties as a meat substitute. 


As with all things which gain popularity, this has led to overproduction of soy which has become a concern for environmentalists worldwide. Soy also became a popular filler in recent years, especially in chicken products, and as a filler it doesn’t have the same nutritional value that it may have in its tofu or tempeh forms.


By opting for soy free you will generally be choosing a more environmentally friendly product, and won’t be filling yourself or your family with fillers.


A rather controversial manipulation of food which was demonized from its inception and still sparks images of sci-fi manufacturing in people’s minds. The genetic modification of food, and use of genetically modified organisms, is completely safe according to the FDA, as long as they abide by standards outlined. Although this has been challenged by anecdotal evidence, and lack of long-term research, presented by countless groups over the years. Non-GMO foods have become prevalent on supermarket shelves, and reflect an innate desire for natural products.


If you’re dubious about the genetic modification of anything in your food, then opting for non-GMO foods is a good idea.

Plant Based Protein

Vegetarianism and veganism have been around for long enough now that most people are aware of the reasons why people choose those diets. A common concern about those diets has always been about protein intake, as meat and animal products like dairy make up a large portion of the protein we survive off. That’s where plant-based proteins come in, by utilizing protein-dense foods such as legumes, food producers are able to pack more protein into their products. This benefits everyone, from those who eat meat thrice a day, to those who stopped eating it years ago.


Plant based protein is something we should all include more of in our diet, but be sure to mix it up as you would with different kinds of meat.


A final thing you should look for on your food packaging is transparency about what’s in the product. You should be able to read the ingredients list and recognize most of the ingredients, and those which you don’t shouldn’t be ignored. Don’t be afraid to do your research either in-store or online to find out what’s in your favorite brands, and if they aren’t transparent, then consider switching. 

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