Secret Ingredients Not Listed on the Food Label

You may think reading the label on the foods you buy is the best way to avoid certain ingredients, unfortunately that is not true!

In fact there are many foods on the shelf containing “secret” ingredients that are not required by the FDA to be put on the label.

Secret Ingredients in Our Foods

There are Secret Ingredients Not Listed on the Food Label! This information both scared and amazed me.

When first starting the Specific Carbohydrate Diet I have been reading label after label in the store just to find “legal” foods for the restricted diet I am following.  I didn’t know until recently that most of the foods I was purchasing that I thought contained only what was listed on the label was actually packed with ingredients not listed.

Here is some information I received from the FDA website, you know the people who we trust to control what is and isn’t put into our foods.

Is it necessary to declare ingredients in “trace”, i.e., incidental amounts? Can sulfites be considered incidental additives?


Answer: FDA does not define “trace amounts”; however, there are some exemptions for declaring ingredients present in “incidental” amounts in a finished food. If an ingredient is present at an incidental level and has no functional or technical effect in the finished product, then it need not be declared on the label. An incidental additive is usually present because it is an ingredient of another ingredient. Note that major food allergens (as discussed under Food Allergen Labeling), regardless of whether they are present in the food in trace amounts, must be declared.

Sulfites added to any food or to any ingredient in any food and that has no technical effect in that food are considered to be incidental only if present at less than 10 ppm. 21 CFR 101.100(a)(3) & (4)

F2. What is a “major food allergen?”

Answer: Under FALCPA, a “major food allergen” is an ingredient that is one of the following eight foods or food groups or an ingredient that contains protein derived from one of them:




Crustacean shellfish

tree nuts




Although more than 160 foods have been identified to cause food allergies in sensitive individuals, the “major food allergens” account for 90 percent of all food allergies.

Allergens other than the major food allergens are not subject to FALCPA labeling requirements.

 That means if you are on a restricted diet and are trying to avoid sugar, gluten, preservatives, additives, or other foods that may cause your body harm, don’t trust the labels!

I don’t understand why in a country where we have so many illnesses directly related to the foods we consume, that every single ingredient is not required to be listed. I don’t care if it is a trace amount, if there is an ingredient that will harm my body, I want to know about it!

Do you read labels before making a purchase? Does it worry you that there are “secret” ingredients in the foods we buy?


  1. I never realized that some ingredients weren’t listed on labels until my friend’s daughter had severe food allergies. It is so annoying that manufacturers aren’t more forthcoming. Thanks for bringing light to this important topic.

    • I never realized how hard it was to find out what was actually in our foods until I was on a restricted diet. It is scary to think that a little bit of something lethal to certain people is deemed acceptable without warning.

  2. This stresses me out to no end. Why is it almost impossible to find whole foods without all the junk and as far as labels… COME ON! Companies complain about the rising cost of health insurance, many Americans can not get coverage or can’t afford to pay for their meds and yet still we are living with such deception when it comes to the food we purchase. Something has to change.

  3. Danielle+K says:

    I always read labels on items before buying. I try to stick to “real” foods like fruits, veggies, and meats just so I can avoid any hidden ingredients. It does bother me that everything isn’t required to be listed as I feel it really should.

  4. I don’t look at the labels often but when I do I expect all of the foods or products they use to be in the can. I can’t say I am shocked by this though this is one reason I try to buy as natural as I can this is ridiculous what about these kids and allergies…*sigh*

  5. OMG I didn’t know that there are misleading food labels which the FDA has approved of. Everything regardless of the minimum amount of trace should be presented to the consumers. Everything should be listed down and everyone should carefully read the labels first before purchasing.

  6. I am personally not a label reader and thankfully I don’t have any food allergies that I know of. I do have Fibromyalgia and people have suggested that I try a gluten free diet. I just don’t know that I could easily do that. I do enjoy my foods especially carbs.

  7. It is so hard to be able to read a food label and know what is in the food. This is great information to know in case of food allergies and sensitivities. I had no idea that there was a secret food list that wasn’t required to be listed out.

  8. This is very interesting info. As a vegetarian, I’m an avid label reader. I think Europe has better standards than the US when it comes to food labeling, and food safety, and I wish the US would follow suit. I cook almost everything I eat from scratch, so I’m pretty safe, but I still think we have the right to know what’s in our food!

  9. What amazing information! I had no idea that there were ingredients they did not have to disclose. I don’t have any major allergies but this is truly important for those who do and I will be sure to pass this on to them. Thank you so much for sharing!

  10. I use to read labels but as of late I just do not consume many foods that have labels on them. I shop on the outskirts of the grocery store only buying fresh produce and meats. Mainly, I go to farmer’s markets or directly to the farm to get my food. It takes so much to make food have a long shelf life that I do not even take my chances.

  11. such a great post!! I try my best t read them but fail sometimes to follow through. Nobody at home has allergies but Ive noticed that my youngest does not do well with seafood, so that’s a no no at home now. Im allergic to salicylic acid which means I must be cautious with beauty products too!
    Dee T

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