Tips for Cleaning Up Your Ingredient List for Your Food Product

It’s no secret that despite rigorous regulations imposed by the FDA, the United States has some of the most lenient food laws in the world. This issue is most concerning when it comes to ingredients that are banned in other countries being GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by the FDA, and therefore given the green light for food manufacturers. And while these ingredients might be just fine by the FDA, and make profit margins a little wider for the food manufacturer, the trade off is simply dangerous for the consumer. 

In an effort to protect the consumer, many grocery retailers, like Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh, have begun to hold the manufacturer to a higher standard.  And as the gatekeepers of grocery, this stand is not only powerful one, but one that may keep you from getting your product into consumer hands. 

A Higher Standard

While we are advocates for FDA-compliance, we believe in the highest standards for manufacturing practices. For this reason, we always encourage new manufacturers to adhere to the rules set forth not only by the FDA, but by the particular retailer that our manufacturer clients are interested in working with. Nowadays, the majority of grocery retailers (both physical and online) have ingredients “no no lists” to which the manufacturer must observe to get their product on a shelf. Whole Foods’ list is so extensive that it comes in the form of a PDF download and contains well over 150 ingredients and 4 pages of foods that are unacceptable. 

As a manufacturer, a good rule of thumb is to abide by FDA regulations while adhering to retailer standards. So what can you do if your product recipe contains ingredients on a retailer’s banned ingredient list? Well, reformulate of course! 

According to retailers, good manufacturing practices go above and beyond FDA regulation in regards to clean ingredients.

Tips for Cleaning Up Your Ingredient List

We know what you’re thinking, it took forever to get your original just right and now you have to change it?? It’s really not as complicated as you might think. And it’s actually a practice that we’re quite familiar with. You may not know this, but your team here at LabelCalc helps manufacturers like yourself, get retail-ready all the time! As a result, we’ve compiled our own list of sorts to help you maintain best practices with creating (or reformulating) your food product. 

TIP #1: The cleaner the ingredients are, the better. 

  • While cheaper ingredients are ideal for widening profit margins, they will tend to inhibit your distribution as more and more genetically modified ingredients are making their way onto retailer’s banned ingredient lists. 
  • Stick with organic ingredients that have been minimally processed. This will not only positively impact the flavor profile of your product but will also help you get into retail quicker. In fact, more and more consumers are looking for products that contain clean, organic ingredients, therefore making your food product more distributable as well as increasing consumer demand. 

TIP #2: Avoid Harsh Preservatives 

TIP #3: Avoid Cheap and/or Chemically-Based Sweeteners 

  • High fructose corn syrup, once touted for it’s cheap sweetening properties has long-held the number one spot on nearly every ingredient list on a food label — until recently. 
  • Sucralose and other non-nutritve chemical sweetners have also begun to fade into the background as both consumers and retailers have begun to demand a higher quality of product from food manufacturers. Natural sweetners like xylitol and monk fruit sweetener have begun to replace sucralose and aspartame-based sweetners. 


While these are just a few tips to get you going in the right direction, you can quickly begin to see how the times have changed. If you have a product in need of a set of professional eyes or reformulating to become retail ready, contact us! We’re here to help!

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.

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