Reading Food Labels

Understanding food labels is crucial when managing food sensitivities and intolerances. Food manufacturers often use different names for the same ingredient or incorporate additives that may cause reactions in sensitive individuals. Being aware of these alternative terms will help you make informed choices when purchasing packaged foods.

Ingredients with Multiple Names or Alternative Terms


Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It may be listed under different names or hidden in ingredients such as:

  • Triticale
  • Spelt
  • Kamut
  • Farro
  • Durum
  • Semolina
  • Malt
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)


If you are sensitive to dairy products, be aware that ingredients derived from milk may be listed under various names, such as:

  • Casein or caseinate
  • Whey
  • Lactose
  • Lactalbumin
  • Lactic acid (although not all lactic acid is derived from dairy)
  • Curds
  • Ghee


Soy is a common allergen and sensitivity trigger that can be listed under different names, including:

  • Soy protein or soy protein isolate
  • Soy lecithin
  • Textured vegetable protein (TVP)
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
  • Soybean oil
  • Tofu
  • Edamame
  • Miso
  • Tamari
  • Tempeh


Corn is another common sensitivity trigger, and its derivatives can be found in various forms on food labels, such as:

  • Cornstarch
  • Corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup
  • Cornmeal
  • Masa
  • Polenta
  • Grits
  • Dextrose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Xanthan gum
  • Modified food starch


Sugar can be listed under various names on food labels, making it challenging to identify added sugars in products. Some alternative names for sugar include:

  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Dextrose
  • Maltose
  • Sucrose
  • Glucose
  • Fructose
  • Corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Agave nectar
  • Maple syrup