Accuracy of Food Product Labels are Paramount to Securing Customers’ Trust
Food product labels have quickly become a convoluted mess of imagery, ingredient lists and promotional claims. Low-fat, sugar-free, gluten-free, high-fiber and other similar claims litter the labels of modern food products to the point where some customers have to think twice about what it all means.
Food labels are confusing to many shoppers, and one 2014 report from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as cited by the New York Daily News, made this quite clear. The study found that different labels on food products made it difficult for people to quickly determine the nutrition value of products – they cannot discern whether nutrition labels were talking about the entire package or single servings, among other big issues.
Although the FDA study was mainly focused on problems revolving around serving size volumes, it is indicative of problems with label transparency across the board.
Times a-Changing for Gluten-Free Labeling
Until just recently, gluten-free labeling was one of the many confusing areas for shoppers. This is mainly because the FDA itself had yet to implement strict guidelines defining the use of the term “gluten-free.” As such, many producers were labeling foods as gluten-free, even though they were not in a technical sense.
Last year, the FDA issued a final rule regarding what the organization defined as being gluten-free. If products do not meet this definition, they are not allowed to carry gluten-free labels, including “without gluten,” “free of gluten” and “no gluten.” Manufacturers had one year to get their labels in order, with the deadline just recently passing.
Of course, stricter label guidelines benefit people with celiac disease. The only way to combat this autoimmune disorder is to eliminate products that contain gluten from a person’s diet.
“This standard ‘gluten-free’ definition eliminates uncertainty about how food producers label their products. People with celiac disease can rest assured that foods labeled ‘gluten-free’ meet a clear standard established and enforced by FDA,” says Felicia Billingslea, director of FDA’s division of food labeling and standards.
Ensuring Custom Food Labels are Updated
For the product manufacturers, the new guidelines may cause some problems in regard to compliant custom food labels. If they have not already done so, companies will need to update their labels to ensure they meet the new standards.
However, this is something product manufacturers should be looking to do anyway. People rely on these product labels to make informed purchases, so it is in the best interests of product manufacturers to ensure their product labels accurately portray the package’s ingredients.
Accurate labels not only prevent any negative press associated with customers who find out that labels are misleading, but it also bolsters trust in the brand. This trust is crucial for establishing a healthy relationship between customers and their favorite companies, which is pivotal in winning repeat buyers in the long term.