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4 Key Things Your Food Product Label Should Show


by Emily Smith, professional market analyst and writer for The Label Company

canned food

The label of an item defines it. In today’s world of intense competition, it is important for you to define your product, as efficiently as possible, and for this, you need to label your product well. Proper labeling becomes more important if you are selling food products.

Keep in mind that food products are things that consumers buy after thinking twice! In such a scenario, your label should not only be attractive, but also loaded with all the vital information about the product.

Consumers choose a food item based on the information they find on its label. The more relevant and genuine information your label carries about the product, the more are the chances of a customer buying it. The food labeling should instill trust in the mind of a prospective customer, for your product and brand. If you can create such labels for your food items, you would soon see your sales increasing.

[Image courtesy: myvmc.com]

To build customer trust, you have to mention a few things on your food items, which appear below:

1. Main Ingredient.

“Characterizing ingredients” are generally mentioned in the food product’s name or are highlighted in the label. A “characterizing ingredient” is the product’s main ingredient. For instance, the “characterizing ingredient” in a meat pie is meat. The meat percentage in the pie should be mentioned in its label.

2. List of Ingredients.

Mention all ingredients, including added water, present in your food item in a descending order according to weight. Mention that ingredient at first, which is present the most, and that ingredient at last, which is present the least. In case, an ingredient forms lower than 5% of the item, you need not list it in the label. If your product contains multi-component ingredients in very small quantities (less than 5%), you are allowed to mention only the “composite” ingredients. For example, if you offering a chop chip ice cream, you may mention “chocolate” only in the label, rather than sugar, cocoa butter and cocoa.

However, remember that this rule is not applicable for allergens or additives. If your food item has additives or/and allergens, you must mention each of them in the label, however small the amount may be.

can ingredient list

3. “Best Before” or “Use-By”.

If your food product has lower than 2 years of shelf life, you must state the “use-by” or “best before” date in its label. These terms convey different meanings. The “best before” date indicates the food quality, i.e., when the product is stored as recommended, it will retain good quality until that date. Certain food items are safe to be eaten even after the “best before” date. However, the nutritional value may reduce and the quality may deteriorate to some extent.

[Image courtesy: recipal.com]

On the other hand, the “use-by” date is used for products that should strictly not be consumed after a particular date for reasons of health and safety. Such products must not be sold after the “use-by” date. If your food item falls in this category of products, you must mention the “use-by” date in its label. This date is usually found in perishable items like dairy products, fish and meat.

4. Food Additives.

All the food additives present in your product must have a certain use. You must get the additives approved and assessed by the authorized organization of your region. You can use additives to enhance the food quality, appearance or flavor. Use them in the least possible amount, which will serve the desired purpose.

List down the additives in your item, in the list of ingredients, based upon their class. The additive name should be followed by the chemical name of the additive or its number. Here is an example:

  • Emulsifier (lecithin)
  • Preservative (200)
  • Color (102)
  • Color (tartrazine)

This numbering system for additives is employed all around the world. Minerals and vitamins are also mentioned under additives.

By listing these things in the label of your food products, you can not only provide useful information about the products to consumers, but also show that authenticity and transparency are your business principles. When your prospective customers find that, your food items have all the relevant information written out clearly on its label, they would trust your brand and eventually, buy your products.


Emily Smith

Emily Smith is a professional market analyst. She has knowledge in latest product market strategies & currently writing for The Label Company, food product label manufacturer from Orange County, CA.