Labelling

Why it’s a good idea to use professionally trained nutrition experts…

Nutrition labelling must be accurate. Displaying the nutrition information on back of pack is governed by strict food labelling legislation, and the most important rule of food labelling is that the consumer must not be misled. The calculation of nutrient content is very cost effective compared to laboratory analysis (which is approx. 3 times more expensive) – but this can be a difficult task for smaller food businesses that have little or no nutrition and food composition expertise. There are lots of calculation software packages available but the use of these are limited by the need to accurately match ingredients to available food composition data and take account of nutrient changes during production.

Working with technical experts, such as Registered Nutritionists and Dietitians will add credibility to your business. Such experts are professionally trained to calculate and validate comprehensive nutritional analysis based on McCance & Widdowson food and nutrient composition tables. We can also advise on relevant changes to recipes to improve the nutritional profile if required, particularly if you want to make nutrition or health claims. Nutritionists registered with the Association for Nutrition (AfN) work under a strict code of Ethics and Statement of Professional Conduct – absolute confidentiality is guaranteed.

Registered Nutritionists have demonstrated knowledge including a BSc (Hons) or MSc in a nutritional science; applied skills in relation to nutrition and competence to advise on nutrition. They are required to keep up to date through Continuing Professional Development.

Outsourcing your recipe analysis can give you peace of mind particularly if you are juggling lots of work under a tight deadline and you need to focus on creating brilliant products rather than the technicalities of the food labels. Calculated recipe analysis is anything but a simple exercise of addition. To maximise accuracy, the nutrient information for exact amounts of specific ingredients needs to be adjusted for any preparation or cooking technique — an undertaking that requires an in-depth knowledge of food and nutrition. It’s worth noting that any recipe analysis won’t be exact, average values allow for natural variability of foodstuffs as well as seasonal variability, however, it’s important that the actual nutrient content of foods should not deviate too substantially from the labelled values. Hiring an expert to analyse your recipes costs money, but the cost of not doing it right can be exponentially higher.

With a 17+ years food industry and retail background, AB Food Nutrition has many years of experience calculating the nutrient composition of recipes for labels, menu boards and magazines. From just your product recipe we can take the hassle out of nutrition labelling compliance whilst providing an inexpensive, confidential and personal service to your business.

Food Information Regulations – 1 year on…

It’s now been over one year since the deadline by which food businesses had to adjust their labels to comply with EU Regulation 1169/2011, which applies to all foods intended for the final consumer including those intended for supply to and delivered by mass caterers. This even includes foods sold by distance eg. Internet or telephone orders. (Exemptions are listed in annex V in addition to those with specific EU directives such as PARNUTS, Natural Mineral Waters)

If you are selling pre-packed foods and providing the nutrition information on the label, or have made a nutrition / health claim, then here is a summary of what you should already be doing:

The nutrition table on back of pack must include the energy value and the amount of fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, total sugars, protein and salt. You may also voluntarily include mono-unsaturates, polyunsaturates, polyols, starch, fibre and those vitamins & minerals listed and present in significant amounts as defined in annex XIII.   Only if space does not permit, can the declaration be made in a linear format.

The amounts must be expressed as sold per 100g or 100 ml in the order & using the units specified in annex XV, whilst energy values must be provided in kilojoules (kJ) and kilocalories (kcal). If you want to provide the values as cooked, then the cooking instructions must be included on the pack and the values must relate to the food as prepared by those instructions.

You can also provide the amounts on a per portion basis so long as the portion can be recognised by the consumer, the portion unit is quantified on the label and the number of portions in the pack has been stated. The % Reference Intakes (RI) can be included in the table (% NRV for the vitamins and minerals) and can relate to ‘per portion’ or ‘per consumption unit’. Where the % RIs are stated, the following statement must be added to the label in close proximity: Reference intake of an average adult (8 400 kJ / 2000 kcal).

Reference Intake of an average adult (8400 kJ/2000 kcal)
Contains 6 portions

 

So who enforces these labelling rules?

Local authority Trading Standards Officers or Environmental Officers check and monitor to see if food businesses are providing the correct information to consumers. If you are found to be in breach of the rules, the local authority should work with you – using a step by step approach to corrective action. If you fail to act upon previous advice, an Improvement Notice (penalty) may be issued, and this formally outlines corrective steps to be taken within a set period of time.

 

And what should you do if you think your labels are not fully compliant?

Get some advice or have your labels checked and signed off. If you get them wrong, you may have to label twice – which will increase your costs!  Having labels checked by a suitably qualified person would demonstrate that you took reasonable precautions and exercised due diligence.

Link to regulation EU 1169/2011

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