Imagine receiving a warning letter from the FDA claiming that your package label was in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. They give you 15 days to report back with the steps you plan to take to correct this violation, expecting modifications to the design of your label. This exact situation happens every day to food manufacturers all over the country.
The FDA closely monitors the food industry for labeling violations and places particular emphasis on claims and statements made on the front-of-package labeling. This is because this area is used to catch shoppers’ attention, but often does not provide a full picture of the nutritional composition of the product.
Thankfully you don’t have to receive a warning letter to understand the labeling requirements. Here are four of the most common front-of-package violations found in the food industry.
- Claiming Nutrient Content Without Disclosure Statements: There must be a disclosure statement next to every nutrient content claim on a food label – consumers need to know the truth! Package labels that make nutrient content claims about a specific nutrient, such as “0g trans fat,” but fail to identify high levels of “negative” nutrients that are present in the products, are in violation. Disclosure statements for high levels of total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and/or sodium must be included when making a nutrient content claim.
- Invalid Nutrient Content Claims: It makes sense to let customers know how they can benefit from using your product, but exaggeration just doesn’t cut it in the food labeling business. Nutrient content claims such as “cholesterol free”, and “excellent source of____” must meet the legal requirements approved and established by the FDA. Warning letters have been sent to manufacturers that produce vegetable shortening, fruit juice, and cereal products for making nutrient content claims that are inaccurate.
- Restricted Claims on Products for Young Children: There are a large number of products intended for infants and children under the age of two that have been found to have unauthorized claims on their labels. These claims include “healthy,” “no added sugar,” “good source of iron,” “low sodium,” and “plus fiber.” Although the safety of these food products is not a concern, the FDA has not authorized most nutrient content claims for foods that are intended for infants and toddlers.
- Unauthorized Health Claims: Everyone would love to have a magic food that cured all their ailments, but in reality, health claims on food products are very limited and regulated. Health claims for treating, preventing, or curing diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and cancer are not allowed on food products. These are considered to be drug claims. There are health claims that are allowed on package labels, such as the relationship between fiber-containing grain products, fruits, and vegetables and the reduced risk of coronary heart disease, but certain product specifications must be met before the claim is authorized.
The bottom line: make sure the statements made on your package labels are truthful, meaningful, and useful in helping consumers make proper food choices and construct healthy diets.
The technology you choose to implement in your warehouse can make or break your operations. Here are the three big ways you can measure whether your technology is helping or harming:
- Intelligent Production: Manufacturing processes are like networks, the more connected they are, the more effective they are. To truly streamline operations, your workforce should be able to communicate with each other, with the machines they operate, and with the materials they process, all in real-time.
- Flawless Fulfillment: It’s all about turning inventory into revenue. Businesses are built on the right goods getting to the right place at the right time. The logistics to make it happen converge in your warehouses and distribution centers, where you should be able to see, in real-time, what you have and where it needs to go.
- Dynamic Service: From your customer’s point of view, service is the sum total of all your efforts. To grow economies of scale and scope, your first focus should be serving the customers you already have. Your operations personnel should be delivering the highest level of service at the lowest cost per interaction.
How does your warehouse compare?
Radio frequency identification (RFID) has been around for a while. The technology has matured, and has spun off a newer technology: near-field communication (NFC). The emergence of NFC seems to have also sparked confusion.
What’s the difference between RFID and NFC?
RFID is a one-way process. Information is transmitted from an encoded memory chip (known as a “smart tag”) via an antenna to an RFID reader. There are two types of RFID tags: active and passive.
Active RFID tags contain a power source, so they can broadcast a signal, up to 100 meters away. This capability makes RFID a strong choice for asset tracking.
Passive RFID tags have no power. They’re activated by an electromagnetic signal sent from the RFID reader. The signal doesn’t travel as far as active RFID, so they’re used for short read ranges. Passive RFID falls into one of three frequency ranges:
- Low frequency: 125-134.2 kHz
- High frequency: 13.56 MHz
- Ultra-high frequency: 856-960 MHz
NFC is based on RFID protocols. The devices run at passive RFID’s high frequency. NFC reads smart tags because, like RFID, it features a read/write operation mode.
But NFC goes farther than RFID. The technology has two-way communication—unlike RFID’s one-directional limitation—using one of two modes: card emulation and peer-to-peer (P2P).
For example, a smartphone enabled with NFC (and many of them are nowadays) can pass information back and forth to another NFC device. Contactless payment is an example of card emulation mode. Any time you redeem rewards points via your phone, you’re also using NFC’s card emulation feature.
P2P comes into play when you “bump” your mobile device with another one to share information. Maybe you’re passing music back and forth, swapping special deals, or playing a game with the friend sitting next to you. You can even tap your device with a router, to get on that network without having to use a password.
NFC will soon likely replace QR codes in some advertisements and promotional materials. Consumers will no longer have to scan a QR code to get to the intended location, but can simply use the NFC mode to instantly get the information that the advertiser wants them to have.
There is still plenty of space across today’s industries—from retail to manufacturing, transportation to healthcare—for RFID’s one-way communication, but NFC is paving another path along the ever-winding information highway.