Food for thought: lost in a label labyrinth

Grant WoodhamsGeraldton Guardian
Corn flakes falling to the bowl for breakfast Cereal.
Camera IconCorn flakes falling to the bowl for breakfast Cereal. Credit: SerrNovik/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Do you ever find yourself reading the label on the back of a packet of breakfast cereal, or a bottle of drink?

It’s a poor man’s short story really. Somewhat lacking in characters but a mysterious plot with the promise of a happy ending.

I find it mainly happens when you’re staring off into space, if you’re allowed to do that, and the packet is in front of you as you swallow another mouthful of organically grown, protein-enriched grain. Usually its the old story — the stuff is fairly tasteless, eating the packet would probably be just as good for you.

Anyway, I was reading one of these labels a week or so back, but if it had been a movie it would have needed subtitles. I didn’t understand a thing, although I think I found the word “sugar”.

You’ll find sugar on every label. It was written in English too, just a version of that marvellous language that I am yet to interpret.

Rows of figures and lots of chemical names. It was like being back in my old science class.

So back to the label. Was this food good for me? Should I just go back to scrambled eggs on toast? There ain’t no label on the eggshell.

Guaranteed 100 per cent chook, please consume by the turn of the century ...

I’m old enough to remember when food labelling was first introduced.

At the time we were being told to support everything made in WA. We used to do that and if it wasn’t made here in the wonderful West, we made sure it was at least made in Australia.

We felt pretty good about those labels at the time — a big black or yellow outline of WA on the front of the can, bottle or packet.

My label tells me that my 100 per cent fruit juice is made from Australian and imported products. What? Don’t we have enough oranges in Australia any more?

There used to be a stack of them up at Northampton. They weren’t labelled either.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails