When it comes to DIY labeling, there are several platforms out there at multiple price points (hey, we’re one of them) that can help you create, download and print an FDA-approved nutrition facts panel in as little as an hour or so. And while utilizing technology to meet your labeling needs and get you on a retail shelf is convenient, sometimes it can be flawed. Sounds like we’re blowing the whistle on ourselves doesn’t it? But truth be told, errors can be made during the entry process by the person creating the label. Even with all of the correct tools, it is completely possible to still come up with a faulty label. It’s for this reason that we recommend that you receive a nutrition label review by a professional before you mass-produce your packaging. And it’s also the reason that we are one of the only label creation sites that employ nutrition professionals, full-time.
When you’re using a database to match the right nutrition profile to your recipe ingredients, it can get a little tricky if you’re unfamiliar with nutrition reporting platforms. Although nutrition is very much a part of what makes food, well, food, most manufacturers that are creating products for grocery retail typically don’t have a nutrition background. Many times we find that our clients are just simply in love with an old family recipe and they’d like to share it with the world. And then they find out about what it takes to become FDA-compliant and actually get their product on a grocery store shelf. Then, if that hasn’t scared them away yet, they’re nervous about the labeling process by the time they’ve reached our site. And it’s understandable. When a food recall can cost a company $10M in direct costs alone, new manufacturers are maybe even a little paranoid when it’s time to create their nutrition label. We can’t tell you how many times that we’ve been emailed by apprehensive manufacturers who quote the FDA regulations as they would chapter and verse when reciting biblical scripture — it’s that serious.
Typically the recipe entry process is a fairly simple one: identify your product’s ingredients and declare their measurements accurately and you will likely have multiple choices that match the ingredient you are entering. Not only do we have an extensive general database with reporting for the most common ingredients, but we provide a vast “Branded” database as well. However, as the trends in food manufacturing continue to transition to ingredients that include adaptogens and unique items, chances are, it won’t be listed in the ingredient options. When this is the case, you must know the brand information for the ingredient you need to for your recipe. Many platforms, just like ours, offer the option to enter your own ingredients to utilize towards your nutrition reporting and therefore upping the ante when it comes to being accurate.
Questions around serving size might be the biggest concern for the large majority of manufacturers coming to our site to create a label. The FDA has released regulations around the appropriate serving size for all of the various food categories. These serving sizes defined by the FDA are called RACC’s or Recommended Amounts Customarily Consumed, and are typically measured in grams. LabelCalc includes a CFR tool that helps the user identify the appropriate RACC assigned to their particular food product, however the work doesn’t end there. Once the RACC has been discovered, it must be used to determine the “Servings Per Container”.
The “container” that the FDA is referring to in the description is the container that sits on the grocery store shelf and is purchased by the consumer. So if you are mass-producing a baked good, you must be able to determine what constitutes an individual serving and then how many individual servings are contained within the consumer-facing box/can/jar/bag that the consumer ends up purchasing.
If that wasn’t enough, the FDA requires the food manufacturer to identify the presence of the Top 8 Allergens within their food product. Sometimes, allergens are simple to detect and other times allergens can be hidden within unsuspecting ingredients. For example, did you have any idea that Ceasar dressing and worcestershire sauce typically contains anchovies? Normally, one may not think to identify “fish” in a product containing these ingredients, but it’s very present. LabelCalc’s allergen-flagging tool is great for instances like this where allergens are hidden inside ingredients that you would normally think were allergen-free.
Last but not least, the ingredient statement is full of specific requirements defined by the FDA that the manufacturer must abide by in order to be considered FDA-compliant. Ingredients must be listed in descending order, in the order of predominance within the product recipe. Ingredients that go unidentified or are listed incorrectly places the manufacturer at risk for recall.
And while we live for DIY labeling, (no really, it’s why we exist) we never underestimate the importance of a set of nutritionally-trained eyes to look over all your hard work and check off all of the FDA-compliance and nutritional accuracy boxes. A nutrition label review is simply where it’s at.
Need to create a label for your product? Have a label but want it reviewed by a nutrition professional? Contact us and get started today! Opt for a nutrition “Label Review” during checkout. You’ll be glad you did.