Labelling and Packaging

How to verify food label claims

Food label claims are a dime a dozen these days but how do we really verify the truth in this type of food labelling? Welcome to the HACCP Mentor series on Food Safety HACCP Compliance 101: How do I comply with that? In this session, we dive into practical methods to help you and your food business to verify the food label claims that appear on your food packaging.

Types of Food Label Claims

Before we jump into how to verify food label claims it is beneficial to identify the three (3) types of food label claims that exist in the marketplace. These are:

1. Nutrition Content Claims

Nutrition Content claims relate to individual nutrients in a particular food product. Examples include ‘low in fat’, ‘high in protein’, ‘good source of calcium’, ‘gluten free’ or ‘low carb’.

2. Health Claims

Health Claims go deeper in associating a health benefit obtained from consuming a particular food. Some examples include ‘calcium for healthy bones and teeth’ or ‘Phytosterols may reduce blood cholesterol’.

3. Identity Preserved Claims

Identity Preserved Claims can relate to the status of a food product or raw material. The most common types of identity preserved claims include free range, preservative free, organic, hormone free, hand-raised, Kosher and Halal. Claims around the absence of certain allergenic ingredients can also fall into this category eg. Nut free, Diary free

Legal Compliance

In most countries, there are specific laws around making food label claims. Please ensure that you refer to applicable food safety and food labelling laws in your country of origin and the country where you are going to sell your food product. If you are certified to a GFSI recognised standard there may also be requirements around labelling and food claims.

Just remember, whatever food label claim that your food business makes, you have to have sufficient evidence to verify and back this information.

Verifying food label claims

Here is the method that I use to verify the food label claims made by food businesses.

  1. Get a copy of the food label or printed artwork.
  2. Review the label and write out a list of all the different food claims made.
  3. Cross reference each claim to any relevant legislation. The purpose of this step is to make sure that you are complying with the law.
  4. Gather any evidence that backs-up your food label claim. Evidence can include external test reports, supply declarations from raw material suppliers, in-house testing results.
  5. Compare the evidence that you collected in the previous step against both the actual label and the applicable law.
  6. Document your findings. Make sure that you record the result and references obtained during this activity.
  7. Rinse and repeat whenever there is a change to your food label, the law, your raw materials or advisory from your approved supplier.

HACCP templates

Check out the following HACCP templates to help with your labelling compliance.

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