Food labels are easily one of the most critical aspects of the produce industry. Whether you sell fresh peaches, microwave meals, or smoothies, food labels must tell a story encompassing everything from ingredients to storage instructions.
Here are several important reasons for needing food labels, some of which are for you as the supplier, and some are for the health and safety of the consumer.
Firstly, a food label can and is used for branding. You have your company logo on it, a slogan, and potentially a tiny blurb telling the story of your business or the product. The label is one of the best ways to catch the eye of a potential customer when your product is on the shelf.
A food label is needed to show the nutritional information of the item. While this doesn’t apply to raw goods, it is needed on ready-made meals or drinks. The label needs to include the ingredients as well as the nutritional value of the item.
Fats, sugars, protein, carbohydrates, etc, must all be shown on the label and their percentages. Consumers need this information to make informed decisions about what they eat, especially if they are on a diet for health or lifestyle reasons.
Food labels must also describe the safety of the product and how it should be stored and used. Storage instructions are essential because you can’t assume that consumers know how something should be stored.
For instance, products containing dairy or eggs need to be stored in the fridge after opening to stop the item from spoiling. This protects the consumer and the company in the instance of the product making someone sick.
This is arguably one of the most important aspects of a food label. It needs to specify any ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction, as well as information about potential cross-contamination.
You will often see products that will say “may contain nuts” even if the product itself doesn’t contain them; this is done because the item may be made or stored in the same place where nuts are present.
When it comes to food labels, “production” refers to factors such as whether the food is Kosher or Halal. Many people won’t eat certain foods if they aren’t Kosher, for instance, and companies not only need to ensure the item is, in fact, Kosher but also label it as such.
When creating a food label, multiple elements must be present to be effective. While you can add more if you want, these are the most important ones.
Firstly, you need to add your company name and product name. Once again, the latter doesn’t apply to raw goods, but you must name the product you sell. It is also important to remember that if you call a smoothie “Green Blast,” for example, it would be helpful to consumers to list the ingredients on the front of the bottle so they know what they are buying.
Another crucial element of the label is the best-before date. There are two main benefits of this; the first is to help customers know how long the product is safe for and at its tastiest. Secondly, best-before dates have also been shown to reduce food waste.
When a customer knows when a product will be past its best, they are more likely to finish it within the stated time frame.
As mentioned previously. Any and all warnings must be clearly visible on the label. Allergens, storage instructions, and cooking instructions should be easy to read and understand.
The latter can be crucial to a producer; if you make a pasta sauce, for example, it won’t taste as good if eaten without being heated up first. While this may sound obvious to some, cooking and food knowledge isn’t shared by everyone. If the consumer uses the product correctly and tastes good, they are more likely to repurchase it.
As mentioned already, cross-contamination is incredibly important to list on a food label. Millions of people have allergic reactions to something like nuts just by being in the same room as them.
While more prominent companies have this down to a science, smaller producers need to be fully aware of what their products and ingredients are exposed to throughout the supply chain.
In the case of food labels, country of origin refers to where the ingredient/s come from. For example, if you make iced coffee and the beans come from Ethiopia, but the product is canned in Italy, you can’t claim that it is Italian coffee.
Finally, you need to include some form of contact information. Most companies opt for adding a phone number to contact customer care, but you can also take it a step further by adding your website or an inquiry email address.