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Popping the mystery of food label’s E numbers: What they are and why you need to know about them

Popping the mystery of food label’s E numbers: What they are and why you need to know about them

2023 is well under way! Many folks begin the year focused on weight lost, exercise regimes, and cleaning eating. Is this you? How’s it going? Still on track?

In truth, the new year is a great time to take stock of your health habits: What’s working? What isn’t? What else can you try?

Regardless of your goals and eating style, nutrition plays a huge role in any health-related effort. The more informed you are about the products you consume, the better your chances for long-term success and overall better health.

Which brings us to product labels.

Reading product labels is a fairly common practice. Whether we’re looking for calorie counts, checking for salt levels, or simply reading the ingredient list, we’ve all stood in a market aisle scanning the info box.

However, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other European countries, the ingredient information isn’t so straight forward. We’re referring to those E numbers interspersed in the ingredient lists of any commercial product. What the heck are those?! And why are they in the ingredient list? Are they important?

Yes! Those E numbers are important! Especially if you’re trying to clean up your nutrition.

E numbers ("E" = Europe) are codes for substances used as food additives in the European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Developed as a means of making food additives universally identifiable across the multilingual EU, E numbers also allow long complex names of chemicals to be easily and consistently listed in a small space.

And to recap, a food additive is any substance that:

  • is not normally consumed as a food itself,
  • is not normally a characteristic ingredient of a food, 
  • is added for a technological purpose at any point in the food supply chain, and 
  • becomes a component of a food or its by-products, either directly or indirectly. 

Many additives are the result of our highly manufactured food system. These additions promote long shelf lives and help products retain their viability through the shipping process.

Said another way, E numbers are shorthand for more gunk in your food. They often corelate to the number of ingredients in a product. More ingredients equal more E numbers.

 House of Pop pops have zero E numbers! (Yes, we’re totally bragging)

Here’s a general E number breakdown so you can get a sense of what those ubiquitous numbers refer to:

  • E100s are generally colors.
  • E200 to E282 are mainly preservatives and acids.
  • E300 to E341 are mainly antioxidants and acid regulators.
  • E400s include emulsifiers, stabilizers, thickeners, anti-caking agents, release agents and bulking agents.

Enlightening, right? And one more thing to monitor. Sigh.

But tracking E numbers isn’t hard. The first step is to know what they represent. Check.

The second step is to look for ingredient lists with pronounceable words. Products made with real ingredients (like House of Pops) won’t need E numbers. A clean list means no E number tracking. Whew.

And let’s do a quick recap of why tracking those E numbers is worth the effort. Clean foods promote:

  • Weight loss.
  • Stronger immune system
  • More energy
  • Better sleep
  • Glowing skin
  • Clearer thinking

That’s just the tip of the better health iceberg! From saving money to extending to your life span, clean, E number-free foods are worth seeking out.

A quick note to parents: Food additives, particularly the sugars, seriously compromise children’s health and well-being. From behavior issues to childhood obesity to heart disease, most commercially made foods do not support our children’s well-being. Look out for those E numbers!

So, whether you’re recovering from the holidays, sticking to a New Year’s resolution, or simply continuing to live a healthy lifestyle, checking ingredient lists—and knowing what those E numbers represent! — has an enormous effect on your success. The better ingredients and fewer E numbers means you’re on the right path. Good luck!

Looking for a 100% plant-based addition to your diet? Try our House of Pops Happiness Collections! We use all natural ingredients and there’s not an E number in sigh


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