Keeping track of ingredients and nutrients is particularly relevant if you manufacture your own products in order to avoid falling foul of government legislation or adversely affecting customers who suffer from allergies; some of which can be life-threatening.
In this article, we address the basic considerations you need to think about when it comes to your nutritional database, what comprises nutritional data and where you need to display it.
The term ‘nutritional data’ in the context of retail, can cover ingredients, allergens, and can also refer to the ‘table of contents’ which provides the details of the nutrients which are contained within a particular product. Many of your customers will need to know exactly what is contained in the food that they purchase, whether that be for general health, dietary or allergy reasons.
The current legislation was introduced by the EU in 2016 and states that all packaging for food you produce must include a nutritional table which displays a list of key nutrient values.
This includes things like the following.
If you’re not already aware, the ingredients for any product you produce must be specified on your packaging at a readable font size and all allergens contained within the ingredients list must be highlighted to the consumer. Typically this is achieved by displaying the allergens in bold font, although there are viable alternatives to this.
For example: barley flakes, oat flakes, nuts.
Note that although there are currently some provisions for smaller businesses to present a list of allergens upon request rather than the allergens being attached to the physical product, we believe it is best practice to ensure that all food items are labelled to maximise transparency and to help mitigate risk. Regardless of whether your food items are prepared on-site or off-site, clearing labelling your products will allow your customers to make informed decisions regarding their purchases.
Having a way of effectively managing your nutritional database will go a long way to helping achieve clarity for both you and your customer in relation to the ingredients and nutrients which are contained within your own products.
Our Retail Manager software provides you with the means to store nutrients, either as custom properties or as dedicated nutrient records using our Nutrient Manager module.
Within our Nutrient Manager, you can add or remove nutrients according to your needs. You may choose to only add the nutrients which are required by the legislation which is in force at the time, or you may add additional nutrient records so that you may cover an extended set of data or indeed all of the available nutritional data which is available; it is entirely up to you.
Our flexible solution allows you to specify the name, reference intake and unit amounts, as well as controlling the display order of the nutrients (and more).
Once you’ve configured your nutrient records you can then configure the standard and serving measure values, as well as the reference intake and unit values which are applicable to the product. Additionally, you can control label printing options and serving measure sizes and descriptions.
When it comes to ingredients, you can configure these directly against products in our Retail Manager software and these will be printed on your labels without having to duplicate any data entry. Bold formatting is also supported to allow you to highlight any allergens which may be contained within your ingredients list.
Now that you have your nutritional database in order, what are you going to do with all that data?
The main purpose of getting the data into the system in the first place is so that you can display it in a format that makes sense to your customer before they make a purchase. Typically this means printing the information onto a label which can be adhered to the product you are selling.
Within our Labelling software, we can provide you with a custom design which displays nutritional information in a way that you feel best represents it to your customer and which also meets the current legislative requirements.
Whether this is simply printing a list of ingredients and having the allergens automatically emboldened, or displaying a full nutritional table; your label format can be configured to print the required information in a consistent manner while at the same time saving you time by displaying the nutritional data you have already entered on the labels you are printing – no duplicate data entry is necessary!
There are a lot of things to consider, regarding nutritional data, and we’ve only scratched the surface of what is possible in this article. There are many other topics, around nutrition, which we hope to cover in future posts.
If you would like to discuss how our software can help you manage this aspect of your business, get in touch and we will gladly walk you through all of the available options.
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Head of Software Development
Jonathan is the Head of Software Development at The EPOS Bureau. With over 7 years of commercial application development experience, Jonathan has expertise in a wide range of software development principles and frameworks and he enjoys leading and mentoring other developers.