Tips for Constructing Clean Labels
When it comes to labeling of foods, start with the applicable standards and regulations, said Sarah Roller, Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, at Session 024 “Clean food labeling & sustainability benefit claims: What do consumers want? What are the legal requirements? What if compliance is not enough?” on Sunday morning, July 18.
Companies must list all the ingredients on the Ingredients Statement by their common or usual names, noted Roller. Natural flavors or other natural components must come from a plant or animal; it cannot be from a mineral or the earth. There is a difference between an artificial color and an artificially colored product. “Pink lemonade that is colored with beet juice cannot be called natural,” stated Roller.
Labels must be factually accurate and not misleading or deceptive to consumers. But even if you comply with FDA regulations, you may still find yourself in a lawsuit, explained Roller, due to gaps in Federal and state laws. Pay special attention to past and pending cases of consumer deception and food labeling, such as the use of high-fructose corn syrup in natural products and colorants added to the feed of farm-raised salmon.
Consumers want transparency in nutrition information on food packaging, grocery store shelves, menus, and the Internet, noted Susan Borra, Edelman. This information spans from fact-based data (e.g., grams of protein, calories per serving) to symbols, such as the American Heart Association’s heart-check mark. Clean labeling typically involves the Ingredient Statement. But it may also denote a company’s sustainability efforts—how the food was sourced, produced, processed, and how it gets to stores and homes.
Sometimes, clean labeling may be in conflict with another consumer concern, stated Douglas A. Balentine, Unilever Foods. For example, some retailers will not sell Unilever’s Brummel & Brown Natural Yogurt because of the small amount of EDTA used in the product as a preservative. To eliminate the preservative and still maintain adequate shelf life would require more sodium in the formulation.