This guide was created on the back of an AFK community request. The AFK Community were finding it difficult to navigate which tomato sauce is better in terms of additives.

The most favourite sauces were voted for in the private facebook group and these are the ones that form the basis of this review.

What are your buying considerations?

As you know my focus here is on additives. However, what became very clear as I conducted the review, is that there are so many buying considerations that each and everyone of us take into account, every time we shop.

After additives, the next two most popular ingredients that the community watch out for is sugar, then salt. The AFK Community then like to select their tomato sauce based on the percentage of Australian ingredients, then whether a product is Gluten Free or Organic. We are starting to see emphasis on packaging too….the AFK community are conscious that glass bottles are a better alternative too.

Natural preservatives – Sugar and salt

All the options reviewed contained sugar as the next main ingredient after tomatoes or if it wasn’t sugar it was another sweetener such as apple paste, carrot juice concentrate, monk fruit juice concentrate or stevia. Most of the tomato sauces reviewed also contained salt. We need to keep in mind that sugar and salt have been used as preservatives since ancient times… they are natural preservatives.

If you are going to buy store bought tomato sauce, you will need to accept that most options will contain these natural preservatives. If you are very keen to avoid, you may need to make your own.

Australian made / Australian ingredients

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find all the data for % of Australian ingredients….for those that I could, this is what I found:

Rosella tomato sauce – 98% Australian ingredients
Beerenberg tomato sauce – 98% Australian ingredients
Celebrate Health – 70% Australian ingredients
Masterfoods tomato sauce – 60% Australian ingredients
Fountain tomato sauce – 20% Australian ingredients
Heinz tomato sauce – made in the Netherlands or New Zealand depending on the type.

Let’s get to the additive review!

In reviewing these tomato sauces there were a minimum of 50 different ingredients used across the 11 tomato sauces that I reviewed! Crazy isn’t it!

Please note: this is not an exhaustive list….the brands that were voted most popular by the AFK Community have been reviewed.

What ingredients should you find in your tomato sauce?

Typical ingredients:

Tomatoes (of some form)

Sugar (or other sweetener)

Salt

Vinegar (or substitute)

Spices

Examples of the ingredients I came across in the review:

Tomatoes:

Organic tomatoes
Concentrated organic tomatoes
Organic tomato puree
Tomatoes
Tomato puree (usually water and tomato paste)
Tomato pulp
Reconstituted tomato puree

The perecentage of tomatoes used in the tomato sauces were interesting to see…some very high sitting at 88% which is what I would be expecting for a tomato sauce and some as low as 50%!

I think it can be a little misleading to call a product tomato sauce and then only contain 50% tomato, with the other fruit and vegetables contributing the rest of the bulk being onion and apple. What do you think?

Sweeteners:

Organic sugar
Organic apples
Sugar
Apple
Apple paste
Monkfruit juice concentrate
Carrot juice concentrate
Stevia

Manufacturers know that consumers are very sugar conscious. They get around this by include these other ingredients….giving the same taste and sweetness that you would expect to receive from sugar without having to list sugar as an ingredient and claim “SUGAR FREE” or “NO ADDED SUGAR”

Vinegar (or substitute):

Organic apple cider vinegar
Organic white vinegar (from wheat)
Organic vinegar
Organic grain vinegar
White balsamic vinegar
Concentrated vinegar
Vinegar
Food acid (acetic)

Obviously different quality of ingredients are used by different manufacturers for different reasons – including taste profiles and cost. Some can double as adding additional sweetness if we are looking at the balsamic or concentrated vinegars.

Most people think the acetic acid is vinegar…however…you can’t tell from the label as to how that additive has been made…whether it has been produced by bacterial fermentation of sugar, molasses or alcohol or by chemical synthesis.

Spices (or substitutes):

There were a number of different spices used such as:

Cloves
White pepper
Black pepper
Garlic powder
Chillies
All spice
Cinnamon
Nutmeg
Mustard
Horseradish
Paprika
Ginger

These are all great…. Where you need to worry is when you start seeing the words:

Spice extracts
Herb extracts

Do not be fooled…these are not the same as normal spices. Manufacturers that are transparent will happily fill you in on which real spices they have used. Unfortunately when you question manufacturers that use spice extracts and herb extracts, there is radio silence or you may hear “this is proprietary information”.

These extracts are highly processed, they are ultra processed ingredients. You are unable to tell just from these words, which herbs or spice extracts they are, how many have been used and what methods have been used to extract them. Often they use chemicals / solvents to extract these. Is there any wonder that our sensitive community react to these?

Other ingredients:

Food acid (citric acid)
Ascorbic acid
Thickener (modified corn starch)
Modified starch
Vegetable gums (xanthan gums)
Natural flavour
Flavour

These types of ingredients are what single manufacturers out from the rest of the pack. There really is no need for any of these ingredients in a tomato sauce. Again, you need to question:

“Are these ingredients there for the benefit of the manufacturer or your health?”

Are the ingredients there for your benefit of the manufacturers?

Ok, lets get to the rankings…

I know that you are eager to see the results. As I have mentioned to the AFK Community already, not all the manufacturers responded to my queries and questions, despite enthusiastic customer service emails initially. The manufacturers that had nothing to hide, were more than happy to field my questions and answer my queries multiple times.

The following rankings are based on my knowledge and experience with these ingredients and discussions with other manufacturers.

You will see that I have ranked the tomato sauces into 4 categories:

AVOID

These tomato sauces contain some or all of the following ingredients: flavourings, gums, thickeners, extracts and food acids

OK

These tomato sauces contain some or all of the following ingredients:
thickeners, extracts, and food acids.

BETTER

These tomato sauces contain some or all of the following ingredients:
food acids

BEST

These tomato sauces are completely clean and free of additives.

How does your tomato sauce rank?

Tomato sauce – AVOID

Tomato sauce – OK

Tomato sauce – Better

Tomato sauce – Best

So there you have the rankings…if one of the manufacturers get back to me and provide more information and it changes my rankings, I will come back and update the blog and update you via email.

I would love to hear your thoughts….what do you think about the above? Will you be voting with your dollar and buying a different tomato sauce going forward?

Is it any wonder that consumers have such trouble navigating the supermarket shelves? The average consumer does not have time to do this. Big food manufacturers rely on this. They know you are time poor.

Here at Additive Free Kids, I want to help empower each consumer to vote with their dollar every day. To help you, I have created the Additive Free Marketplace Directory where every product has been screened for you. To save you time. To help you vote with your dollar.

Which vote will you be making at the supermarket next? If you would like to take a look at other product reviews or blogs, click here

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Frankie Bell - Additive Free Kids

Frankie Bell is the Managing Director of Additive Free Kids, a food coach, mentor and is one of Australia’s leading activists against additives in foods.  

Frankie is a mum to 5 boys and has personal experience working through the damaging effects of additives to resolve the multiple health issues and behavioural problems in her own children.  It became Frankie’s purpose to help other families achieve the same improvements for their families. 

These changes can be overwhelming, especially for time poor parents, Frankie has done all the hard work for families to ensure they have access to additive free food, anytime, anywhere.    Additive Free Kids specialises in assisting families to live healthy lives free from additives.  See how you can work together with Frankie here.