It’s hard for me to pinpoint the age that I started to read. All I remember is that I was a swift reader upon entering the first grade. I do equate this to the fact that I had probably been reading ingredient labels well before your average fairytale (although I read those too)!
This act is as normal to me as opening a package. Whenever I eat, cook, or do anything involving a food item, a glance at the ingredients list is just a part of the process. I am glad this has become a habit.
I remember one day when I was totally craving a fix of chocolate! I grabbed one of my favourite candy bars and, while waiting in line, took a look at the ingredients list. I questioned: “May contain traces of tree nuts and peanuts!?! Since when!?”
I remember having this incredibly bitter inner dialogue before reluctantly placing it back onto the shelf. A part of me was extremely disappointed, but another part of me was relieved. If I hadn’t checked the label, who knows what could have happened! I am lucky that the act of reading ingredients has become such an ingrained habit.
After reiterating the importance of checking labels, I must admit that there have been times that I have forgotten. I made a grave mistake once but I was very lucky with how the events played out. My most serious allergic reaction to date happened after eating a food before reading the ingredients. It was a food that I had eaten numerous times before. However, the “Holiday” version of this snack contained hazelnuts. I had wrongfully assumed the food was safe and landed myself in the hospital and on an IV on Christmas morning. The whole situation could have easily been avoided had I done the simple task of reading the label.
It is very important to always check the label. It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve eaten that food, how much you trust the company, or whether or not it is an item that is unlikely to have come in contact with your allergen.
Please, check the label every single time. Have any of you had similar experiences with ingredients lists? Please comment below!