Avoiding Audit: Helpful Compliance Tips to Keep your Business Safe

  • Avoiding Audit: Helpful Compliance Tips to Keep your Business Safe

    I once heard a USDA label reviewer state that they catch mistakes on half of the nutrition labels they review. HALF! Recalls can be financially costly and detrimental to a brand’s reputation. The severity of a recall varies. Some products are pulled from shelves, some halted in production, and some simply need a sticker to correct inaccurate information. The most common (and dangerous) cause of a recall is due to undeclared allergens. No matter the scenario, all are time consuming and costly for the company. Below are some tips to get it right and avoid this scary scenario:
    • Enriched Products: Nutrients added to enrich or fortify a food (i.e. vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, etc), must be present in greater than or equal to the declared value. It is advisable to use documentation to track fortification. Substantiating the quantity of your fortification with information from a laboratory analysis will help provide the evidence needed during an audit.
    • 80/20 Rule: Naturally occurring nutrients must be within either 80% or 20% of their declared value. When a product’s nutrient levels are outside of these tolerance levels, it is considered mis-branded information.
      • Nutrients of concern must be within 20% of the declared amount: this includes calories, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sugars, cholesterol, and sodium.
      • Desirable nutrients must be greater than or equal to 80% of the declared amount: this includes vitamins, minerals, protein, dietary fiber, polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and potassium.
    • Claims: Health claims are under careful scrutiny by both the FDA and USDA. It is very important to make sure your product qualifies for claims made on packages. The use of quantitative data from your nutrition analysis and or laboratory analysis will be very helpful in supporting claims made on packages.
    • Shelf Life: How long is your product retaining its quality? Perform your own in-house sensory study to get a general idea. Make sure your product is packaged how it would be sold and stored at the appropriate temperature. Evaluate each sample at equal periods during the duration of the study. You can compare it with similar products to get an idea of a ‘best-by’ date. Third party labs can perform an accelerated study in half or even a quarter of the time and will also report hard data measuring spoilage, organism growth, and rancidity.
    • Don’t Purchase in Bulk: Try to not over purchase labels. Government regulations are ever changing and new certifications are always being created. What you may save in volume saving will cost you a lot more if an audit or recall is initiated.

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