Food Labeling for Small Businesses: A Checklist
Lately, there has been a shift in how many of us are choosing to live our lives, especially when it comes to the food we consume and the way we shop. While more and more people are interested in eating small-batch, carefully crafted foods, an increasing number of folks are also passionate about supporting local business. Luckily, these two trends go hand in hand. And for small food manufacturing businesses, this is very good news.
With the increased demand for locally made food products comes a big responsibility for small food businesses. Indeed, there can be a lot more pressure to get your products on local grocery store shelves quickly. This means food labeling often becomes an immediate priority.
If you own a small food business that is taking off in your area, it can be overwhelming to get all your labeling sorted quickly, affordably, and easily. As such, let’s take a look at a checklist of all the things you need to do for your nutrition facts panel so you can get your products on store shelves as soon as possible.
A Food Labeling Checklist for Small Businesses
Many small food manufacturers think that creating a nutrition facts panel is quite tricky. With this mindset, people tend to bury themselves in the FDA’s lengthy regulation documents, learn all the guidelines for the nutrition facts panel, and eventually fork out a ton of cash to just get the whole thing over with. In the end, they prove to themselves that nutrition labeling is difficult, and they often pass this idea onto other food manufacturers, perpetuating the myth.
While food labeling certainly brings some challenges, the process becomes much easier if you are smart about it. This means being informed about the different avenues you can take with labeling and choosing the method that best suits your business and your product.
So, without further adieu, allow me to walk you through the process of food labeling for small businesses:
Determine if you need a nutrition label: Some small food businesses that are considered “low-volume” are exempt from having to provide a nutrition facts panel on their product. These are businesses that sell less than 100,000 items per year and have fewer than 10 employees. Before getting too excited about this rule, though, know that not having a nutrition facts panel on your product may negatively impact sales. Without a nutrition facts panel, your product may appear less trustworthy and legitimate than one with the standardized labeling. Plus, people are increasingly concerned about what they eat, so it may be a better idea to label even if you are exempt.
Understand the basics of the FDA’s guidelines: Spending hours and hours reading through FDA guidelines about the nutrition facts panel isn’t an efficient use of your time. Instead, focus on obtaining a general understanding of the label and its components. Rather than heading over the FDA’s website, which can be a bit frustrating to navigate, I recommend finding a more streamlined guide to nutrition labeling, like this white paper on understanding the nutrition facts panel. It will give you all the information you need to know without bogging you down with superfluous details.
Learn about the different types of nutrition analysis: There are four different ways to nutritionally analyze your food product and create your nutrition facts panel: food labs, CD ROMs, independent consultants, and online nutrition analysis software. While all of these will give you the same finished product, they differ significantly in terms of price, ease of use, and wait time. Food labs, for instance, can charge as much as $700 per analysis and it can take up to a month to get results. I recommend using online nutrition analysis software because it is the easiest, fastest, and most affordable way to obtain an FDA-compliant nutrition facts panel.
Choose a reputable, FDA-compliant nutrition analysis software: Assuming you are going to use an online nutrition analysis software to analyze your recipe and create your nutrition facts panel, it’s now time to choose one that is going to get the job done. Not all nutrition analysis software is created equal, so try to find one with the following features:
- Security protected (including automatic backup and recovery)
- Large database of USDA-compiled ingredients
- Allergen statements
- Varied label layouts
- Expert consulting
Analyze Your Recipe: Once you’ve chosen your software, it’s time to start analyzing your recipe! With software like LabelCalc, you can complete this entire process in just a few steps:
- Find the pricing option that is right for you and create an account with LabelCalc.
- Sign in to your password-protected account.
- Enter your product’s recipe and serving size using the database of ingredients.
- Adjust ingredients, modify allergen statements, and choose a layout.
- Download and print the nutrition facts panel.
The best part is, high-quality software should include access to expert labeling consultants who can help you every step of the way. They can even perform the nutrition analysis for you. And considering that, as a small business owner, you undoubtedly have a lot of other important tasks to complete, this might be a good option for you. It really doesn’t get much easier than that. If you go about food labeling in an efficient way, creating your nutrition facts panels will be a breeze.
LabelCalc is an industry-leading online nutrition analysis software that helps businesses of all sizes create nutrition facts panels for their food products. To learn more, contact us today.