Some people eat to live, some live to eat. And then there are others who have to watch what they eat to live. There is a specific consumer demographic that looks to their nutrition labels as a very real lifeline, and we’re not just talking about lowering cholesterol. We’re talking about allergens. It’s a commonly-perceived notion in our society that food allergies fall under the diet category. We’ve all dined out with petty Betty who lives off of air and claims to be allergic to everything, or at least know someone that fits that bill (and if that’s you, sorry Betty). It was common practice for some to claim they had a life-threatening allergy in order to have products or menu items altered or cooked specifically to their dietary preferences. Matter-of-fact, this became such an issue in the restaurant community specifically, that social media became the epicenter for funny allergy memes directed at customers.
So why are we talking about this on a food manufacturing site? Because your products come to the tables of a very real community who are truly afflicted with food allergies that they have to work their life around. This particular demographic is about 30 MILLION strong in the United States alone, and growing. That’s no small number. Have you wanted to increase your revenue this year? Reach a new demographic with your product? We’ve got 30 million reasons for you to pay attention to your ingredient statement and a few extra tips to experience exponential growth this year with just a couple tweaks of your label.
Honest is the Best Policy
The number one thing that the allergy community has complained about in 2020 was the FDA’s passive stance on food labeling updates. If you’ve been in manufacturing for some time you can clearly understand why: how is a manufacturer to update their product label to keep up with the dwindling number of basic ingredients from suppliers, let alone make enough to stock the shelves in the first place? The FDA clearly took a stance to protect the manufacturer, however, this leaves the manufacturer with an increased responsibility to at least 30 million people in the United States. And while they have a decent sense of humor, their lives really depend on the honesty of your packaging, especially your nutrition labels.
But I Haven’t Changed My Ingredients…
But your suppliers may have. Most food manufacturers don’t grow their ingredients. If you are a food manufacturer that has managed to bring your Nonna’s delicious pasta sauce to the grocery store shelf, chances are you are using ingredients from other suppliers in order to make yours. When these base ingredients change, the nutritional composition of your products change as well. For example, if your sauce uses fire roasted tomatoes packed in olive oil and the supplier of your sundried tomatoes changes the olive oil to soybean oil, the nutrition value may not change much, but you now have a product that contains an allergen.
Now that your product ingredient has changed, you have an undeclared allergen on your hands. So although you may not have changed a thing on your label, you may have families who have found your product to be safe for their children and suddenly, it’s not. Once you’ve created your nutrition panel, it’s important to keep tabs on the individual ingredients that go into your product recipe. Recalls happen every year for something as simple as an outdated label containing undeclared allergens.
How Often Should I Update?
While we are navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to remain hyper-vigilant. Although the FDA has relaxed their labeling standards, it doesn’t mean that everyone is in the clear. It’s a good rule of thumb to check your labels between printing of your packaging. While you want to be conscious of your printing costs, it only takes a few minutes to make sure that the appropriate label is being printed on your product packaging. You can accomplish this by checking the accuracy of your product ingredients at least once per quarter.
Like the weather, the availability and cost of food changes with the season. For this reason, the per quarter review of your nutrition labels is a good rule of thumb for product accuracy. Make sure to take the time to email your suppliers and ask them for any updates in their product ingredients. Then, if you’re using LabelCalc, you know it’s as simple as swapping an ingredient or updating an external ingredient to ensure label accuracy as well as the safety of your consumer.
Need to update your product labels? Curious about their accuracy? By choosing LabelCalc as your nutrition panel provider, you can revise your nutrition labels with a few clicks of a button. The LabelCalc platform features instant nutrition analysis and immediate download. Swap your nutrition panel for an accurate one by contacting us today.