Guest Blog by Marie Kettlewell, Food Labelling Specialist
Getting food labelling right is an important part of a successful food business. It will help you to avoid costly mistakes that could impact consumer safety, or other issues that could damage your reputation.
You should follow labelling legislation to allow customers to make informed choices. This can also help them to safely store and use the food you are making.
As food labelling can be a challenging task for small to medium food businesses. Here are my 5 tips to help you get started with food labelling for your business.
1. Review your information carefully
Before starting your labelling, it is necessary to take the time to review your information with care.
Have your suppliers provided you with all the details you need? The ingredient information from your suppliers helps you to create your ingredients list. It is also a crucial part of creating your allergen declaration.
Have you sense-checked the details? For example, are your nutritional analysis results as expected for your product type?
What can be a challenge for small to medium food businesses is putting the information you have, into what needs to go onto the label and what doesn’t, which leads to Tip 2…
2. Understand what’s required on your label
There is certain mandatory information that you must put by law on food labels. You can read more about this here.
In addition there are also specific legal standards for certain products, such as bread, jam and meat products, read more here.
How and where you sell your products will also determine what needs to go on the label. For example, if you are a caterer selling food that is Pre-Packed for Direct Sale (PPDS), you will need the full ingredient list and allergen information. This must comply with the new regulation known as Natasha’s Law. Compliance to this new law is required by 1st October 2021. Find out more information on what foods would classify as PPDS and the new rules here.
3. Check your claims, logos and warnings
Check any claims or logos on your labels accurately reflect the product inside. They must not mislead the consumer. As an extreme example you can not claim a product is “gluten-free” if there is also a “may contain” warning for gluten on the same label. This may sound ridiculous however I have seen this on a product on the supermarket shelves!
Many claims have specific criteria that must be met, such as nutrition and health claims. If you have any logos from accredited associations, such as organic bodies, these will need to meet their requirements.
Consider if any warnings would be required to ensure consumers are aware of possible risks with the product. Some warning statements are necessary by law. For example if the product contains a source of phenylalanine, such as aspartame; and others are up to the manufacturer to decide.
4. Zoom out – create a mock-up
When focusing in on all the details, it can be easy to forget to step back and take a look at the bigger picture.
Think about how your label will look when it is assembled in 3D. Creating a physical mock-up can be useful and a good way to spot errors. For example, make sure the durability date is clearly visible when the packaging is assembled.
5. Review when things change
Once your labels are accurate and compliant – great!
However you must keep reviewing your labelling, as inevitably things will change. Such as if you use a new ingredient supplier or consumer feedback means one of your recipes needs adjusting. This new information should be reviewed to check whether your labels might need updating.
Hopefully these 5 tips give you an idea of some of the different aspects to consider when creating your food labels. This can be for new products, existing product development or redesigns.
Get in touch
If you are a small or medium sized food business, and have enjoyed this post written by Marie Kettlewell, who is a food labelling specialist. Please get in touch with her by email to see how she can help you get your food labelling right – firstname.lastname@example.org