The Ultimate Food Labeling Checklist for First-Time Food Manufacturers
I don’t know about you, but I have always been a list maker. Every time I have a big project that needs tackling, I grab a pen and paper and write out all the steps that need to get done. That way, as I make my way through the tasks, I can cross them off the list. And let me tell you, there is nothing more satisfying than crossing items off a list.
Because I consider myself a gifted list maker, I decided to make a food labeling checklist for all the food manufacturers out there who are about to start creating the first nutrition facts panel for their product. There is a lot to keep in mind when making your nutrition label and it can be overwhelming, but if you stick to the list, you’ll be done (and have a perfect nutrition facts label) before you know it.
A Food Labeling Checklist: Nutrition Facts from Start to Finish
- Analyze Your Recipe: First things first, you need to find a way to get your recipe analyzed. I recommend using an online nutrition analysis software such as LabelCalc because it is the cheapest, simplest, and quickest option for first-time food manufacturers. All you have to do is create an account and input your recipe, which only takes a few minutes. Don’t be tempted by food labs, CD-ROMs, or independent consultants—they’ll cost you big bucks and it will take awhile to get your results back.
- Determine Your Serving Size: Once you’ve inputted your recipe, you need to add your serving size—but first, you need to figure out what it is. Essentially, you are going to use the FDA’s guide for Recommended Amount Customarily Consumed (RACC) to give you an idea of how much is appropriate for one serving. Once you’ve done this, figure out how many servings are in one package, and you’re good to go.
- Edit Your Ingredient List: After you’ve determined your serving size and servings per container, it’s time to create your ingredient list. If you are using an online nutrition analysis software, your list will be instantly generated, but you may want to change the names by which the ingredients appear. For example, you may have entered “raw onion” or “whole cumin seeds” when you were inputting your recipe for analysis, but you may want to change these to read more simply (i.e. “onion” and “cumin”).
- Check Allergen Information: Next, look through your ingredients list and determine if any of the eight major allergens are present in your product. If so, you need to write an allergen statement after your ingredient list (i.e. CONTAINS MILK AND EGGS). If you use an online nutrition analysis software like LabelCalc, however, any allergenic ingredients will be flagged in an allergen report, so you can feel assured you haven’t missed anything.
- Check the Font: The FDA has some pretty specific rules about font size, style, and bolding when it comes to the nutrition facts panel, so you want to be sure your label complies with these. Using a reputable online software will help you bypass this step because it will program everything automatically.
- Choose Your Label Layout: This is the last step! Choosing your label size and layout will depend on the size and shape of your package. You will, however, want to make sure you choose one of the FDA approved formats. Most nutrition analysis software will give you these options to choose from, and you can change up your label format with one simple click.
Online Nutrition Analysis Makes Nutrition Labeling Effortless
As you can tell from this list, there are a lot of things that need to be done when creating your nutrition facts panel. Most, however, can be done automatically or with very little effort if you use a reputable online nutrition analysis software.
When looking for an online software, be sure to choose one that is FDA-compliant so your finished label meets all their guidelines. You’ll also want to look for a software that has an extensive database of USDA ingredients (I recommend one with at least 18,000) so you can input your recipe easily and find all your ingredients. Finally, choosing an online software that offers expert consulting should you need a little extra help when creating your label is a great idea—especially if this is the first time you are making a nutrition facts panel.
However you decide to create your label, my hope is that this checklist comes in handy and helps you stay organized and confident throughout the process. Doing anything for the first time can be a challenge, so if you run into trouble, you can always reach out for help. My guess, however, is that you are going to ace it on your first try.
LabelCalc is an industry-leading, FDA-compliant online nutrition analysis software that helps food manufacturers create nutrition facts panels for their products. To learn more or to create an account, contact us today.