Understanding the shelf life of your product plays a critical role in protecting your brand, but the way a food’s “best by” date is determined depends highly on the attributes of your individual product. When a food manufacturer contacts me about running a shelf life study, I typically ask a series of questions to help determine which methods are the most relevant – what is the pH and water activity? How is the product processed and packaged? Is it stored ambient, refrigerated or frozen? If you don’t have answers yet, don’t sweat it! We can walk you through what we need to know.

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The claims and information on a product’s label allow customers to make informed purchasing decisions. However, consumers may not realize when choosing between a frozen veggie or sausage pizza that the information on the labels for these two similar products is actually regulated by two different government agencies.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversee labeling for food items sold in the United States. The labels on products regulated by these two entities do share many common features, such as a statement of identity, net quantity declaration, nutrition label, ingredient statement and responsible party information. However, there are some differences in the information found on their respective labels. As part one of our two-part series on the differences between USDA and FDA labeling requirements, let’s examine the overlapping product categories and how the statement of identity can vary based on which entity oversees your product type. Continue Reading

Supplier verification, as mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), evokes sentiments such as the Russian proverb “trust but verify” or the expression “don’t buy a pig in a poke.” Food manufacturers are now required to monitor the origins of their ingredients closer than ever before. The FSMA food supply chain program requirements expect food facilities and importers to understand the food compliance history of their suppliers. But should firms also be expected to verify the controls of their suppliers’ ingredient suppliers? Continue Reading

Today, there seem to be more grocery store chains than ever before. However, despite the variety of options, if you explore any of them you will find a similar pattern – an expansive brand of products unique to that store, otherwise known as a Private Label Brand. In recent years, chain-style grocery stores have shifted their focus to increasing their brand recognition. In order to accomplish that, they need to deliver quality consumer packaged goods at a competitive price. The resulting “private label war” has been driving down the prices of store brand food products, thus creating more competition for well-known national brands. Continue Reading

An integral part of choosing your ingredient suppliers is verifying the safety and quality of the product they’re sending you. Perhaps you work in a quality assurance or food safety role at an FDA-registered facility. Perhaps your facility’s hazard analysis states the ingredient in question is associated with a hazard that requires a supply chain-applied control. Do you know what to do if you’re volunteered to conduct the onsite audit of a potential ingredient supplier? Maybe you’re an ASQ Certified Quality Auditor, but you’ve never actually audited a supplier before. You may be panicking a bit… wondering where to start, yes? Of course you are!

To help with this process, I’ve broken down the seven steps you can take to ensure the successful audit of an ingredient supplier: Continue Reading

Food plays a large role in our daily lives, but choosing the right foods to fit our individual lifestyles is not always easy. For example, someone may need to eat more calories if they’re training for a triathlon or incorporate more vegetables and whole grains into their meals if they’re trying to increase their fiber intake. Other times, consumers may simply be trying to choose a nutritionally-sound option for a meal on-the-go.

The theme for this year’s National Nutrition Month is “Go Further with Food,” which places an emphasis on selecting the right foods to meet individual needs. For restaurants and food manufacturers, this month serves as a reminder to track your progress in complying with upcoming labeling regulations and examine opportunities to develop new products to meet consumer needs. The Food Drug Administration (FDA) is making it easier for consumers to find transparent nutrition information on the foods they eat with menu labeling and nutrition labeling regulations coming into compliance soon. Continue Reading

As most of you have heard, the Food Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed an extension to the compliance dates for the Nutrition Facts Label regulations announced in 2016. The proposed new deadlines will be January 1, 2020 for food manufacturers with $10 million or greater in annual food sales and January 1, 2021 for food manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales. Although the deadline has been pushed, many food manufacturers and retailers have already switched to the new nutrition label. If you are having trouble getting started, here is Mérieux NutriSciences easy guide with the 6 steps you should take to implement the new nutrition label. Continue Reading

The beginning of the year brings a time to evaluate the previous year and set resolutions for the next twelve months. As you examine the internal processes at your facility, consider the environmental monitoring data that you put so much time and money into generating. How can you extract greater value from that data to improve your food safety program? Let’s resolve to go beyond reviewing “new” CoAs, updating a spreadsheet of “hot spots” and filing that information away where it’s unlikely to be reviewed again. Continue Reading