Most food products require a nutrition panel, but not all products. There are a few exceptions like vinegar, tea, or very small products like sachets of ketchup from takeaways which are exempt.
Creating a nutrition panel can be a tricky task and there are some stumbling points if you have no prior experience.
Firstly, your product can be sent away to a lab and they’ll hopefully do the work for you. I say hopefully because analytical methods can be unreliable. If you know your product has 40% protein and the result comes back as 20% protein then you can have a problem. There was a case where this happened to result in 3 lab technicians losing their job a year later. Generally, you can rely on lab results, but if something looks wrong then don’t hesitate to question the result.
The big problem with lab work though is the cost. Each panel is going to cost approx. $400. If you have a lot of products, which most food companies do, then this will quickly become an extremely expensive task.
Under NZ law nutrition panels can be calculated using the recipe and tabulated data (our preferred approach). If all the information is present and accessible then it is a relatively simple task. We work with multiple clients who have hundreds of products and therefore hundreds of nutrition panels. We can often create a nutrition panel in less than 10 minutes, other times it can take hours – it all depends on the quality of the information and the timeframe.
One difficult element of using data is with water loss or mass transfer. If you bake a cake, some of the water will evaporate during cooking. Some products are difficult to weigh before or after, and in the case of fried products, you have to consider the water lost, and the oil uptake which can be very tricky.
We have systems in place to figure out the nutrition panels as quickly as possible as they form a major milestone in food development work. For more information, give us a call on 0800 475 463 as this is an area we are most likely able to save you time and money.