What are preservatives & how do I spot them on a nutrition label?

When it comes to food, we may not know everything we’re putting in our bodies. Plus, examining a nutrition label to get more information can be confusing and sometimes time consuming. So, what are preservatives and how do I spot them on a nutrition label? Here’s what to know.


To start, preservatives are essentially compounds that can be found in a variety of foods, medication, and personal care products. Their main purpose is to slow or prevent the spread of bacteria in these items, which can help stop them from being spoiled or contaminated. This can be especially important in food, as it works to prevent any foods from being spoiled due to bacteria. Preservatives can be natural or synthetic, but all in all they still form the same basic function.


How to Spot Preservatives on a Nutrition Label


There is a lot of information packed on that tiny nutrition label on the back of a jar or packet. Sometimes, it can be a little overwhelming and we may not recognize a lot of the words on it. Turns out, those very words that we’re unfamiliar with may point to actual preservatives. They’re typically listed on the nutrition label under ingredients, but they wouldn’t be the first ingredients you read. Instead, they’re typically found at the bottom of the ingredients list. So, when it comes to detecting preservatives, it’s actually worth reading all of the ingredients.


Items That You May Not Know Are Preservatives


While many preservatives contain lengthy and confusing names, it turns out these compounds may actually be hiding out in our cabinets or fridge and are foods that we use and eat nearly every single day.



Believe it or not, the common salt is actually a preservative. While we typically use fridges and freezers to keep our food fresh, salt was commonly used in the past as a way to prevent food from spoiling too soon.  


If you haven’t heard this term, don’t worry we’re sure you’re not alone. This synthetic compound is often added to meats to make their color red and prevent any browning (otherwise known as spoiling). Additionally, nitrites are commonly found in certain vegetables such as beets.


This preservative is commonly found in some of our favorite items, including dried fruits, wine, and sausages. So, next time you’re hosting a wine night, make sure to impress your friends with that little bit of knowledge. 


When it comes to knowing our food, a little bit of knowledge can go a long way. Plus, that information can be a huge help in determining what you want to buy at the grocery store while reading the nutrition label. Preservatives are extremely common, and it’s most likely they’ll be featured in your shopping cart. Just make sure to get all the facts, eat healthy, and treat yourself every so often!

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