Jim McGreevy, president and CEO, Beer Institute, stated the following regarding the Brewers’ Voluntary Disclosure Initiative in a news article on www.wsls.com. “The Beer Institute, and its member companies, believes this is a step in the right direction to demonstrate a commitment to quality and transparency through these voluntary measures. Beer is the most popular alcohol beverage in the United States, and I look forward to brewers and importers including a serving facts statement along with disclosing all ingredients in their products. Providing meaningful information will ultimately empower the consumer when making decisions regarding the beer beverage of their choice.”
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Although compliance is not a legal requirement, the Beer Institute hopes the initiative will show commitment to quality and transparency and is encouraging participating brewers to achieve compliance by the year 2020. For beer manufacturers, barcode labeling plays an important role in labeling compliance. Manufacturers should select a barcode labeling software that allows for both label data and content to be treated as variable because it lets them easily vary labeling elements based on product type or labeling regulation, and easily accommodates changes as new regulations emerge.
Produce is yet another industry in the midst of major labeling changes. First introduced in 2008, the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) is an industry-wide effort to make the food manufacturing supply chain more transparent and ease the process of handling produce recalls by using a standardized labeling approach. In 2013, urgency around PTI surged when Walmart announced it would require all suppliers to its U.S. stores to comply with the PTI. Today, the PTI is required by the majority of U.S. retailers. The primary labeling component of the PTI is a unique Voice Pick Code based on a combination of data points including the Global Trade Item Number, lot number, and pack date. This means it’s critical to select barcode labeling software that features a built-in voice code formula to properly calculate unique Voice Pick Codes.
Nutrition Facts. The U.S. government is calling attention to the link between diet and chronic diseases, such as obesity and heart disease, with the introduction of a new Nutrition Facts label. Aimed at helping consumers make better informed nutrition choices, the new label will be mandatory for manufacturers in the U.S. and those exporting goods into the U.S. as of July 26, 2018.
Nutrition Facts label changes include the following:
- Declaration of serving size that more accurately reflects the amount of food customarily consumed; expressed in a more understood household measure;
- Increased prominence of calories, servings per container and numeric values;
- Included amounts of added sugars; and
- New nutrients such as vitamin D and potassium will be required while others such as vitamins A and C will become optional.
FSMA. The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law by President Obama on Jan. 4, 2011. It aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it. One way to improve food safety is to reduce food recalls, with the majority of recalls being caused by misbranding. Such labeling errors, whether due to a missing or incomplete label, mislabeled ingredients, or failure to properly declare a required allergen, can not only be detrimental to food safety, but can also prove costly to companies.
FSMA is a major shift in focus from how food manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers respond to food contamination to how they prevent it as it gives the FDA mandatory recall authority and the ability to keep suspect food from being shipped. In addition, FSMA calls for increased preventive controls from food manufacturers and requires companies to either establish or enhance operations, plans, and procedures for preventing food safety issues, including product recalls.