• 2018.12.11
  • Your Choice of Safe Products
Demand has been growing in Japan for organically grown vegetables and foods that are safer for your health, such as products without added chemical seasonings or preservatives. Twenty or more years ago, there probably wasn’t as much food-allergy labelling like “Eggs and/or peanuts used” as there is nowadays in Japan, but now we take it for granted. This trend has been around in Australia for quite a while and all sorts of products are available that are labelled with words people are not used to hearing much in Japan yet. To start with, there’s the label “Gluten Free”, which is the one you see the most. Because some people are allergic to gluten (proteins contained in wheat flour, for example), there are lots of gluten-free products available, even on restaurant menus, like bread, pasta, wheat flour, snacks, and pizza bases. Even some supplements and cosmetics are labelled “Gluten Free”. There are also a lot of people who are not quite allergic to it but who feel better or their skin problems go away, when they don’t eat food containing gluten, so they do what they can to avoid eating it. It’s so prevalent that even the conveyor belt sushi chain store I wrote about previously, Sushi Train, has gluten-free soy sauce available. There are so many people who prefer gluten-free foods that they rival the vegetarian proportion of the population. My personal impression, however, is that gluten-free pasta lacks the springy texture of noodles, it feels as though something’s missing, and it doesn’t taste as good as regular pasta, so when it comes to pasta, I buy the regular stuff. Some people get diarrhea straight away after drinking cow’s milk, and I am one of them. They say that’s a symptom of lactose intolerance, an inability to properly digest lactose, which is a type of sugar contained in cow’s milk. I have heard that similarly to gluten, people who stop eating dairy foods tend to feel more energetic and their sinusitis symptoms improve, and some people in Australia cut back on dairy foods when they catch a cold. “Lactose Free” cow’s milk is readily available everywhere. Lactose-free cow’s milk tastes no different to regular cow’s milk, so I always choose lactose-free.

Then there’s the “No MSG” label. “MSG” is the abbreviation of the long-form name “monosodium glutamate,” it’s true identity. It’s used a lot in Japan as a flavor enhancer added to food products. People in Australia dislike MSG and lots of products in shops are labelled “No MSG”, including snack foods, seasonings, and retort pouch products. The dangers of MSG came into the spotlight some time ago with something called “Chinese restaurant syndrome” when people who had eaten food at Chinese restaurants containing large amounts of MSG complained of headache, nausea, numbness, and other symptoms, so recently there has been an increase even in Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese restaurants that don’t use MSG. Dishes with extremely simple seasoning have been the norm at non-Asian cafes and restaurants, so they are somewhat bland and you add salt yourself if you feel it is lacking. Lots of places have Himalayan salt or natural salt available, which helps. A while ago a vegetarian neighbor told me about a Chinese restaurant that serves tasty vegetarian food without MSG. They said to me that they try to eat healthy foods only and they also said something very curious: “When I eat something with MSG, I always have nightmares.” I sometimes have scary dreams, so I thought maybe I had eaten something with MSG in it that day. Apart from MSG, labelling also includes “No preservatives” and “No artificial colors or flavors.” You can also get unsalted tomato juice, ketchup, butter, and so on. You often see the label “Non-GMO” (non-genetically modified organism), which is common in Japan where there are so many soy products.

Another one is “BPA Free.” People in Japan might not be familiar with “BPA” and I too have never seen a product with this label in Japan. BPA is bisphenol A, a chemical substance used mainly in plastic products. Apparently, this chemical substance has an adverse effect on human health, so lots of BPA free PET bottle products, clear wrap, and food containers are available. Most of the food containers on shelves at large supermarkets are BPA free. These food containers look colorful and cute, they’re durable, and they’re free of BPA, so I think it would be good if containers like this were available in Japan too. If you go to an Australian supermarket, why not try looking for some “BPA Free” labels?

“Gluten Free, No MSG, No GMO” corn chips (left) and gluten-free wheat flour (right)

BPA-free plastic containers: They’re difficult to see, but there are small “BPA FREE” labels.


  • Chieko Suganuma (maiden name : Nagura)
  • JobCompany employee

She moved to Australia in 2000. She worked for a Japanese-affiliated travel agency, and then started her current position at a construction company in 2014.On her days off, she enjoys making soy candles that is a hobby of mine and walking on the beach.She hope to share rare lifestyle information from the local area with you.

View a list of Chieko Suganuma (maiden name : Nagura)'s

What's New


What's New