Labeling on food is important because it helps consumers to make healthy and informed choices about the food they buy and eat. Furthermore, packaging is essential because it helps them to identify products and enhances the appearance of labels.
There is a lot of work that goes into a food label as labels are highly regulated. In Canada labels must adhere to the standards of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) which covers everything from the locations of the food label to the best before day.
Because labeling food is a job within itself food companies need to hire professionals to ensure that food is labeled correctly. In order to fully understand this job FoodGrads is exploring the career of Labeling Specialists and their integral role in food products.
1. Food Labeling Specialists are responsible for food labels
Food labeling specialists are responsible for
the development of labels which include aspects such as product names, weight statements, ingredient statements, allergen declarations and nutrition facts. They review new packaging proofs at all design stages to ensure the accuracy of grammar, ingredients and nutrition facts. These professionals continually communicate with different parties during the development process and ensure that critical documents are maintained according to company requirements. Finally, they keep up to date with regulatory changes/updates through various industry and watchdog services.
2. Food Labeling Specialists have this education
It is not uncommon for food labeling specialists to have an education in food science, nutrition or culinary arts. However, equivalent job experience is just as valuable if you have experience in regulatory affairs.
If a graduate is looking to enter this profession straight out of school then they should ensure that their schooling has coursework focusing on industry guidelines such as those administered by the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). These courses will provide a solid foundation when entering the industry.
3. Food Labeling Specialists participate in meetings
If a product developer developer develops a new formula of ice cream it should be simple enough just ice cream. This isn’t necessarily the case as products must uphold standards of identity. FLS participate in team brainstorming to provide creative options and solutions to assist the brand(s) on the development of new product names and claims. They ensure that product formulations adhere to proper naming principles so that companies do not fall into trouble down the line.
4. Food Labeling Specialists must keep up with regulations
These professionals must keep up with current food labeling regulations as they are constantly changing. In order to do this they attend webinars and conferences as as needed to stay current in regulatory knowledge.
Eventually these professionals become in-houses expert or consultant regarding compliance of product claims and inform the rest of their team.
5. Food Labeling Specialists contribute to food labeling software programs
When companies produce many items they want to be able to pull up a label in an instant. Most facilities use specialized software that stores information on food labels. The individuals responsible for keeping this information up to date are FLS. They are responsible for contributing to the maintenance of food labeling software programs, project trackers and other resources by reviewing content and entering data.
6. Food Labeling Specialists develop and provide technical information
As it was mentioned before food labeling specialists become experts on products in their company due to their familiarity of the label. FLS communicate labeling requirements to Quality Assurance/ Product Development technologists, packaging managers and many other teams.
7. Food Labeling Specialists are able to follow multiple projects
Food Labeling Specialists have to juggle a lot of different projects at once. That is FLS are able to effectively manage multiple projects while consistently delivering 100%, speed to market and flexibility. Imagine having to uphold to a standard 100% of the time. That is a lot of work!
8. Food Labeling Specialists have these set of skills
- Attention for detail- Nothing about a label can be wrong. Even the smallest incorrect detail can mean huge repercussions down the line. They review new packaging proofs at all design stages to ensure accuracy of grammar, and ingredients. So don’t enter in this profession if you believe in not sweating the small stuff.
- Prioritization skills- These professionals work on various projects at once all the time. In order to adhere to deadlines they need to be able to prioritize their time knowing what is the most urgent. There is limited day-to-day supervision and guidance when handling unique situations.
- Customer service skill– Although FLS don’t personally deal with end of the customers they do work with outside companies. These professionals need to have excellent communication skills and customer services skills to tactfully work with all levels of personnel.
Author: Veronica Hislop – Veronica is a Chemistry student studying at Ryerson University and is now a Quality Assurance Technician at a snack food company. She has a passion for bringing awareness to sustainability in the food industry. When Veronica is taking a break from her food endeavors you will find her at home reading a great novel and playing with her cats.
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