Reading the label: natural and traditional products


If you don’t understand what labels like «pure», «natural» or «traditional» mean, then this article is for you.

Here we explain the most common expressions and try to help you understand what they are for, as well as whether you should take them into account when you decide for yourself whether to buy a particular food product. or drink.


You often see this label on fruit juices, such as «pure orange juice.» It is allowed to be used only on the packaging of single-component food products in order to emphasize that it does not contain any additives. Pure apple juice should be exactly pure apple juice, and nothing else should be in it. However, there are a few odd exceptions to this rule. For example, a jam label might say «the jam contains pure fruit,» in this context meaning that the fruit was fresh, not canned.


You have no doubt seen many foodstuffs with «traditional» on the label. In principle, this word should only be used when the food has been prepared in a way that is considered «traditional», long established, whether it be the traditional way of making pizza or a special recipe for making sausages.


If the package of a ready-made Cantonese dish says “authentic”, then this means that the dish is really prepared according to the same recipe as it is made in this province of China. And if you see the inscription «genuine Scottish shortbread», then you can safely assume that it is made according to a Scottish recipe.

home cooking

A great expression that immediately evokes in you the image of a cozy and warm family kitchen. It can only be written on the packaging of products that have actually been home-cooked, for example, a fruitcake can be written «home-made» if it is home-made, and not in a mass-produced factory.

House in the village

Images of farms and yards on packaging, such as cheddar cheese, are only acceptable if the cheese is actually made in a place that matches the perceptions that such a picture might give us.

At the same time, some types of bread can be called “village bread” (for example, a long loaf with a slit in the middle), even if it was made in mass production at the factory, because it has been called that for several decades. The use of descriptors like «rustic» on products is frowned upon, and if you see it on a package, be critical of the product and don’t let yourself be tempted by the pretty picture on it.


If the word “natural” catches your eye on a product label, then of course you are assuming that the product contains natural ingredients, i.e. those that were created by nature itself, and not by man, and they do not contain additives. It is normal for a «natural» food product to be baked or fried, blanched or dehydrated, but it cannot be processed more than these simple cooking methods.


Bottled water is a special product category and cannot be labeled as «natural mineral water» unless it meets strict and specific regulations. Water that does not fall into the category of natural mineral water may be called «spring» or «bottled drinking water».

Source: Adapted from How to Read Labels by Amanda Ursell

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