What’s in a label? Empowering Consumers to Make Informed Decisions
Strolling through the aisles of a grocery store nowadays consumers are constantly bombarded with a multitude of labels: “Natural,” “Organic,” “Antibiotic-free,” “Non-GMO,” and “Fair Trade.” With an excess of labels and claims, it’s difficult for consumers to know which labels or companies to trust and how to verify information on their own.
Third-Party Certification Programs for Food Labeling and Safety
One way companies are attempting to increase faith in their brands is through verification by a third-party certification program. Third-party certification programs can help build trust with the public by holding organizations or companies accountable for their certification procedures. Also, certification programs streamline the requirements and standards for a certification label. If a food holds a label, such as organic, the public knows exactly what requirements that food was expected to meet to receive that stamp of approval. We may expect to see more of these private third-party certification systems arising in the future concerning food quality assurances as well as food safety.
The FDA passed the final rule on Accredited Third-Party Certification for rules and requirements that accreditation bodies must comply with in order to be recognized by the FDA for helping to promote food safety. As more of these different certifications arise, it’s important for companies and industries to have accurate, up-to-date records and data management of their product so they can receive accreditation for certain labels from private industry or compliance with the federal government.
LIMS Systems Provide Food Ingredient Traceability for Food & Bev Organizations
Internally, food and beverage companies are also investing in ways to track and trace ingredients in their products. Rigorous best practices for ingredient tracking must be followed throughout the supply chain to avoid contamination. Even if proper procedures are followed, the possibility of contamination may exist. By putting food traceability systems and processes in place, food and beverage organizations can improve the information they share with consumers – and reduce the risk of product mislabeling.
A properly configured Laboratory Information Management System or LIMS can be invaluable to these companies. Proper tracking and tracing of ingredients and their origins is possible with a LIMS. It makes tracking information from suppliers easier when lots (ingredients) added to the system already have all associated data in place. This allows for quick searching of the system and retrieval of information, especially if there is a public issue regarding food quality. The ability for a food manufacturer to quickly provide evidence to support food quality claims has a large impact – both on the trust of consumers in their brand, and to their financial bottom line.
A LIMS holding all data regarding food ingredients, from origination, segmentation, genetic testing and traceability through the manufacturing process enables companies to meet many different types of standards or private labeling requirements so they can fulfill the wants of their customers as well as governmental needs. There has been a “call for transparency” from the general public concerning the food supply in the most recent years. That call can be answered by using best practices and using good information management, with a LIMS system to record the standards and requirements for a healthier food system.