How Accurate Food Labeling Can Save You From a Product Recall

Food labeling done right the first time around can prevent product recall.

How Accurate Food Labeling Can Save You From a Product Recall

Taking the cheap route for food labeling might just end up costing you thousands of dollars in a product recall. How doing it right the first time saves you in the long run.


A food product recall, can be a devastating blow to a new food manufacturer. Out of the 382 food recalls recorded just last year,160 were due to inaccurate food labeling.

Although nutrition labeling may very well be one of the most tedious parts of bringing your food product to retail, it is undoubtedly the most substantial item on your checklist. Throughout the years, U.S. Food and Drug Administration has gone to lengths to ensure the safety of consumers by regulating the labeling of foods to reflect the actual ingredients, no matter how detailed or comprehensive that list may be. 

According to the FDA, no corner can afford to be cut in regards to food safety and no food manufacturer is exempt from the scrutinizing eye and fine-toothed comb of the USDA Food Safety Inspection Services.

Undeclared Allergens 

The most surprising piece of information regarding these product recalls may be that the number one reason topping the list for food product recalls are undeclared allergens. The 160 recalls due to inaccurate labeling were all in regards to undeclared allergens on product labels

According to Food Safety Magazine, although cross-contamination can play a role in these recalls, ultimately the primary culprit is inaccurate reporting of the allergen altogether. Below is a list of recalls due to inaccurate allergen labeling in 2018 alone: 

  1.   Milk – 55 recalls 
  2.   Tree nuts – 39 recalls 
  3.   Eggs – 33 recalls 
  4.   Peanut – 26 recalls 
  5.   Soy – 24 recalls 
  6.   Wheat – 19 recalls 

USDA Food Safety Inspection Services (FSIS) are uncompromising in regards to the mislabeling of food allergens on a product label. For consumers with food allergies, the inaccurate labeling could pose major health risks or even result in a life or death situation. For this reason, food manufacturers must be very thorough in their reporting.

Walnuts are categorized as a tree-nut. Tree nuts fall within the Top 8 Food Allergens that must be reported in an allergen claim on a nutrition facts panel A recall of KIND bars was issued in 2015 due to walnuts being undeclared on the product.

A particularly notable food recall was recorded and given national news coverage when KIND Bar failed to report walnuts on their label. Walnuts are part of the tree-nut category which falls under the Top 8 major food allergens that must be reported in the ingredient list as well as an accompanying allergen claim on a food label. 

Nutrition and Ingredient Reporting 

Another area of labeling that can result in a product recall are regarding failure to comply with the regulations set by the FDA for consumable limits of certain ingredients. In September 2018, Zweigle Inc. had to recall over 6,000 lbs of olive loaf pork products because they exceeded the consumable limit of sodium nitrate in a serving.

Simply creating a label for the sake of having a nutrition facts panel on your product packaging does not mean that you are compliant with the regulations and standards set forth by the FDA. Zweigle Inc. found this out the hard way.  

Health Claims

Unfortunately the potential for mislabeling a food product doesn’t end with allergen claims and accurate nutrition and ingredient reporting, even health claims made by the food manufacturer are taken into account with the FDA

Again, in 2015, KIND bar was under scrutiny due to claiming that their products were “antioxidant rich”. The FDA regulation around making that claim on your product’s packaging is that the food product must have at least 20% of the daily value of antioxidant vitamins C or E. At the time of the discrepancy, KIND bar’s products only contained 15%. The FDA also cited that the amount of nutritious fats in one serving exceeded the standard amount considered to be healthy for consumption at one time. As a result, KIND bar received a warning letter from the FDA urging them to remove the claims before further action had to be taken. That year alone, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would send out over 8,000 letters. 

Avoiding Recall 

To put it bluntly, avoiding recall is about doing it right the first time. Food labeling isn’t only an important part to becoming retail-ready, it directly impacts public health, and that’s what the FDA doesn’t play around with.  

The regulations set forth by the FDA regarding accurate reporting is only a burden to those who are hurrying the process, a process that actually can be done in less than an hour or a few days if you want a dietitian to handle your products personally. Some food manufacturers go as far as hiring a food lawyer that knows the intricate details of regulations set forth by the FDA

To avoid recall and potential mislabeling, it is important to have someone review your product recipe that has thorough knowledge of not only FDA regulations, but nutrition, serving sizes, allergen and health claims that pertain to a food product

Creating Accurate Food Labels

LabelCalc, for example, is a comprehensive nutrition analysis program with an ingredient database containing over 18,000 lab-tested ingredients, directly sourced from the database used by the USDA. In 17 years of business, LabelCalc has not had a single product recall

The LabelCalc software calculates your product’s nutrition accurately as each ingredient is reported, then it flags your product recipe for allergens. LabelCalc’s intelligent software also has the criteria for health claims embedded right into the programming for FDA-compliance. Once reporting has concluded, you will have an accurate FDA-approved nutrition label in your chosen format with accompanying allergen and qualifying health claims. From start to finish, this entire process can be completed in under an hour.

Nutrition Analysis & Label Review by a Registered Dietitian

Having a Registered Dietitian review your label and guide you through the labeling process with help prevent recall. Labeling right the first time will save you thousands in the long run.

To take it a step further, LabelCalc offers a service where your food product recipes can be reviewed by an in-house dietitian. The LabelCalc R.D. has been working within the food and beverage industry for over 15 years and is well-versed in the regulations set forth by the FDA. The Registered Dietitian will enter your recipe and handle your label creation process personally, flagging any possible discrepancies and reporting them to you before your label is complete. If you choose to work with the dietitian, the turnaround time is about 1-3 days depending on the number of products. 

Food labeling done right the first time can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. Do you want your product recipe analysis done by just anyone? Or would you prefer professionals with nearly 2 decades of experience to handle your product labels and keep you from a recall? The choice is all yours. 

Get FDA-compliant food labels today. You’re less than an hour away from avoiding product recall with LabelCalc.

What is LabelCalc?

LabelCalcⓇ is one of FoodCalc LLC’s two nutrition analysis products, created to help meet the needs of the food industry. Based in San Francisco, CA, we are a nationally recognized provider of online nutrition analysis that is fast, accurate, and FDA-compliant.

Watch A Demo

Recommended Reading