Nutrition panels can sometimes be easy to generate if you know what you are doing. The government has a publicly available calculator, or you can send a product sample to a lab. The rulebook is huge though and there a large number of simple errors that can be made. Below are just some.
You have made a gluten free claim, but forgotten to add the extra line to the nutrition panel
This seems really dumb to me, but rules are rules. If you write gluten free on the pack, you need to be writing something like “gluten less than 3ppm” on the nutrition panel. This little detail catches heaps of people out.
You have imported food from another country and it has a nutrition panel, but the format, style and data is incorrect.
We see this a lot with American products. The dead giveaway is that the US style nutrition panels have Nutrition Facts written at the top, Australasian ones have Nutrition Information written at the top. If it says Nutrition Facts, it will not be compliant.
The below image is an example of a Australasian compliant Nutrition Information panel.
The below image is an example of an American compliant Nutrition Information panel, but non-compliant in Australasia.
You have converted a foreign nutrition panel, but got the maths wrong
US nutrition panels can usually be converted mathematically into FSANZ compliant versions, but the maths is far from simple. We have a template for doing this work, but even with this tool, a high degree of care is required.
You have made nutrition claims, but have not added the required data to the nutrition panel
Let’s say you have said something on the label about it containing vitamin C. If so, you need to quantify this on the nutrition panel – as well as jump through a lot of other hoops before it’s all legal.
You don’t actually need a nutrition panel
Some categories of products like salt, tea and vinegar don’t need a nutrition panel. Likewise for very small packages – but you need to know how a small package is defined before you can drop the panel.
You have written Nutritional Information rather than Nutrition Information
This one always cracks me up – some people out there, a lot, actually care about this. It’s like they’re just trying to prove how smart they are. It’s always best to get it right first time.
You have added the wrong significant numbers
Here is another tricky one. Let’s say you have 10g of protein in the product. Is that 10g, or 10.0g or 10.00g? Or think about the energy content, is it 1456.5kJ, or 1450kJ, or perhaps 1460kJ. Do you have to round up, or round down? There are a lot of rules around how this all works.
You forgot to backup the calculator
This one hurts. You’ve done a load of work, then something happened to your files. You may have changed computer, or you may have deleted your browser history – and next thing you know, it’s all gone. You can usually recreate the lost data, but if you have hundreds of panels stored like us, then this might hurt very badly. Take the advice written on the calculator page – backup regularly. And don’t lose the backup. Don’t leave it in your downloads folder as these are usually the first files to disappear on a system clean.
You Worked on Two Systems
Let’s say you have 2 computers, or there were 2 members of staff who were working on the companies files. You’ll end up with 2 sets of data, which can be backed up, but can’t be merged – at least, not easily. The backup files from the nutrition panel calculator are notoriously difficult to manipulate. We have created software to merge them after one of our staff left and it became close to impossible to either continue working with her data, or manually import the hundred or so custom ingredients and recipes she had created.
It’s very easy to make a mistake. We named this post Five Common Nutrition Panel Mistakes, but if you look back, there’s now more than that. There’s so many simple mistakes with nutrition panel work that we’ll keep adding to the list.
You don’t want to make a mistake, spend thousands on packaging, then find yourself in front of a verifier who’s telling you that you need to update your panels. That will mean additional calculation time for you, design time for your designer, and a possible change of printing plates for your designer. It quickly adds up and this is why it is a good idea to work with a professional labelling consultant.