So you’re a fairly new manufacturer and you’ve reached the point where you need to create a nutrition label for your product. First off, well done! You’ve secured and perfected a delicious recipe and now you’re only a few steps away from going to retail. Before we get into our topic, if you’re a new food manufacturer, please read these tips from the owner and founder of Within/Without Granola. This young woman was in your shoes only a few short years ago and is now has her product in nearly every major grocery store in the United States. Now, let’s get back to topic: choosing the right nutrition labeling software. What exactly do you need in a software? We could just tell you go to our pricing page and click the “buy now” button, however, whether you choose LabelCalc or not, you should know what to look for when choosing the right nutrition labeling software for you. Let’s dive in.
How Does Nutrition Labeling Software Work Anyway?
So you’re probably researching DIY nutrition labeling platforms because they’re quick and cost effective right? But have you ever wondered exactly how the nutritional values are calculated without a food lab? How does a nutrition labeling platform determine how many calories and other nutrients are in a food product?
Long story short, nutrition labeling platforms work off of an extensive ingredient database. The ingredients in this database have the proper nutritional values assigned to them. And there is a calculator at work behind the scenes that calculates all of the nutrient values as you identify them in the database while you are entering your product recipe.
Now that you have an idea of how the calculation works, the next step is to understand the important components that a quality nutrition labeling platform should have. And the first and foremost, is FDA-Compliance. But what does that mean?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has set strict parameters around nutrition labeling, and your chosen nutrition labeling platform should be build around them. A few things you need in order to create an FDA-compliant label are:
- New 2020 Label Format
- Allergen Statement
- Ingredient Statement listed in descending order by ingredient predominance
- Correct Format size for packaging
- Accurate serving size listing based on FDA RACC regulations
To put it plainly, if the nutrition labeling software you’re considering doesn’t include all of the above, you’re placing your product at risk for a recall. The FDA doesn’t play around with food safety, and therefore strictly regulate and review new products coming to retail.
Accurate Ingredient Data
If you’re shopping for a DIY labeling software, one of the first things you should ask them is “How often do you update your ingredient database?”
Remember how we mentioned that the nutritional calculations are compiled from an ingredient database? These are the ingredients you want to inquire about. If these ingredients are backed up and updated any less than daily, pass on that software.
LabelCalc’s nutrition labeling software is regularly updated and is on a live feed from the USDA ingredient database. So anytime an ingredient is changed or added to the government ingredients database, ours is instantly updated as well.
But why is this so important? Well if your nutrition calculation is dependent on ingredient data, this data MUST be accurate. Otherwise you will be left with an inaccurate nutrition label. If your label is inaccurate, you’re at risk for a recall. With the average cost of a food recall weighing in at a whopping $30M, the utmost precautions must be taken to ensure accuracy.
Do you know every single ingredient within your ingredients? I’ll say that again, do you every ingredient that exists within your recipe ingredients?
If you are creating a frozen barbecue chicken pizza and you source the barbecue sauce from Sweet Baby Ray’s, do you know all of the ingredients in their sauce?
Chances are, you don’t. And that’s not a bad thing, especially when you have a built-in tool that flags the I ingredients you use for hidden allergens. Now that the FDA has required the citation of the top 8 allergens to accompany your nutrition facts panel in its own allergen statement, it’s more important than ever that you’re aware of even the tiniest of ingredients that exist in your recipe.
If you do not have an allergen-flagging tool in your nutrition labeling platform, throw the whole platform out! But seriously, at least consider purchasing another. The FDA is growing stricter and less tolerant for allergen inaccuracies on food labels as cases of food allergies grow year after year. Don’t be caught with an inaccurate label when these allergens can be automatically cited and flagged for you.
FDA Formatted Ingredient Statement
While you might be aware of the predominant measurements of your larger ingredients, placing your recipe ingredients can get really tricky as you get more granular. To have an FDA-Compliang nutrition panel you must have an ingredient statement that contains all of your ingredients in your product recipe in order of predominance. Meaning largest measurement to smallest.
This might seem easy enough with larger measurements, but when it comes to seasonings, marinades and sauces, this order can become confusing. This is why LabelCalc automatically places your ingredients in descending order based on their weight. As you enter your ingredients, a major part of the calculations regarding your nutrition reporting are centered around your ingredient statement.
If the platform you’re considering doesn’t have this feature available, we hope you have a good kitchen scale. Because you’re gonna need it!
Easily Accessible Files
Back in the day when people used labs for their nutrition panels, making any changes was arduous and also consisted of a lengthy turnaround time. Now that we’ve automated this process with technology, nothing should stop you from accessing your nutrition reporting, instantly.
Upon completion of your ingredient input and setting the parameters of your serving size, your label (along with your ingredient and allergen statements) should be ready to print. Whether you’re looking to print from home (kudos to those of you who are a whiz at calibrating your printer) or you are needing to download and send to your co-packer to apply to your packaging, your nutrition label should be accessible with a username and password from any computer.
If it’s not. Just come to LabelCalc. Need we say more?
LabelCalc is the industry standard for FDA-compliant nutrition labeling for retail food products. Need a label? You can create one in under an hour. Check it out.