At the time I got involved in the project, two different approaches were being used to prepare Nutrition Facts. First, there was a sprawling Excel spreadsheet, but this became cumbersome by requiring careful checks to avoid formula errors. Second, an outside nutritionist was hired for consulting, but with each product change, the communication necessary demanded additional time. It was not only slow, but also expensive for the customer.
I wanted to find an answer that was faster, cheaper, and most importantly, followed regulations correctly. I’ve already spent way too much time poring through the FDA’s Food Labeling Guide. It lists no less than 153 questions and answers, and the Q&A is only one of 16 separate sections detailed.
After initially trying demonstration versions of several different nutrition analysis products, I quickly zeroed in on the flexibility and ease-of-use of a web-based product called ReciPal. When I described how I wanted to learn more about the product to recommend it to our customers, the developer of ReciPal provided a complimentary subscription so that our label experts could better understand the depth of features available.
ReciPal is entirely web-based. Through a simple and structured process, you can receive a complete Nutrition Facts layout, an ordered ingredient list, allergen information, and batch costing if you wish. I tried over a dozen recipes with two different web browsers myself, but if you want a high-quality copy of your Nutrition Facts panel, the built-in “Save as PDF” in Google’s Chrome browser works particularly well.
Each ingredient is added through an intuitive search that suggests possible matches as you type. Throughout the site, information icons provide helpful hints that put the most relevant FDA labeling requirements in easy-to-understand language. ReciPal guides you through available label options to fit on your package, making it difficult to select one that is inappropriate. It prompts you to include allergen warnings as well as suggesting possible positive health claims to consider. If you make a change in your recipe, you can see the updated label instantly, and as a web service ReciPal can reflect new FDA food label regulations as soon as they take effect.
Similar to how we step our customers through applying for their first UPC barcode via the GS1 US web site, we recommend ReciPal to get Nutrition Facts on new food products. The first recipe can be analyzed with a free trial, and additional recipes can be analyzed either for $19 per recipe or as a monthly subscription. We don’t make money off our referral to either GS1 or ReciPal, but see these referrals as a way to help you complete your labeling more quickly — which lets you focus more on the other important aspects of a successful product launch. For a quick checklist of ingredients for your food label, click here.
Alex Henkel, President