• 06 MAR 18

    Mislabeling – Getting Your Facts Right

    Having the right information is important for us all to make educated purchasing choices. Gone are the days when consumers would let brands get away with unsubstantiated or open health claims, e.g. promotes weight loss; they now demand truthful facts. Knowledge about the nutritional value of food has greatly increased and buyers are also seeking full disclosure about the ingredients table. If the facts are inaccurate or misleading, then brand owners are publicly held accountable.

    How big is the issue?

    U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food recalls decreased by 12% from Q2 to Q3 of 2017 but the share of food labelling issues increased by 22%. In both quarters, labelling issues due to misbranding, mislabeling and undeclared allergen information were top of the recall list. In the UK, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) state that labelling errors, resulting from missing, incomplete or incorrect labels, rose by 45% in 2016/17 from the previous period.

    Why is it important to get it right?

    Food safety regulations require that all food products are correctly labelled, as advertised and not misleading. Labelling legislation differs slightly across the globe, in terms of declaring certain ingredients, but the principles are the same – label content must be accurate and clearly displayed. Labelling breaches can lead to customer complaints, health issues from undeclared allergens and product recalls. Repercussions for food manufacturers can be fines, retrieval and product waste costs plus damage to brand reputation.

    Accurate and Clearly Displayed Label

    Getting your facts correct on the right package

    Innovative vision inspection technology inspects the positioning and content of all food labels, irrespective of product and packaging. Operating in real time, built-in cameras capture an image of the product label and analyses this against the pre-programmed details. Products with non-conforming labels are rejected for further investigation and rework. Vision technology verifies the accuracy of the:

    • Label Content – confirms that the right label is attached to the right package
    • Typography – approves all content including print type, colours and fonts
    • Expiration Dates – checks for the presence and quality of the best before and use by dates
    • Tracking Information – inspects lot numbers and bar codes for validation and print quality
    • Labelling Position – ensures that the label is correctly positioned as specified in branding guidelines

    Supporting you with facts

    All food manufacturers need to be ready to quickly respond to a product recall. Here is how, vision technology can help manufacturers:

    Vision technology monitors and records all label inspection activities including the number of rejects, time and cause. The monitoring software can also provide an image of each product label. This information is vital for manufacturers to prove due diligence.
    Accurate bar coding and lot codes improve traceability capabilities and facilitate the quick retrieval of products.
    Monitoring information helps provide greater visibility into the supply chain to quickly pinpoint food safety issues and rectify them.

    It is inevitable that, as more complex food products are manufactured to satisfy consumer’s changing tastes, product recalls will continue to rise. To prevent non-conforming products entering the marketplace, manufacturers need to integrate advanced labelling inspection technologies into their food safety management processes. In the event of a recall, vision inspection will improve the agility of response to quickly trace all products, whilst providing vital information to identify the food safety error. With quality assurance measures such as these in place, food manufacturers can protect the consumer and their own brand from the ramifications of a recall.

    More information about how vision technology can ensure the quality of labels and packaging is available here.

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