Front vs. Back Food Label Packaging, What You Need to Know

When shopping for your favorite foods, the placement of the label may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but it is extremely important. There are a variety of label placements for products, but two of the most common are the front and back label. Read on to learn more about everything you need to know regarding front and back labeling so you can keep this in mind when searching for information related to the nutrients or ingredients of your favorite foods.

Front-of-Package Labeling

According to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, front-of-package nutrition labeling systems were brought into the industry at the request of Michelle Obama in 2010. This form of labeling is easy to use and displays the key nutritional information on the front of food and beverage packages.

It is important that labeling is easy to read and understand so consumers are able to follow healthy diets consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and front-of-package labeling does just that. Nutrition information is often times used when making food-purchasing decisions, and selecting the right foods will improve dietary choices and result in a reduced risk of obesity and chronic diseases. In fact, America’s food and beverage manufacturers joined forces with retailers to develop and implement Facts Up Front, which is an initiative to provide Americans with critical nutrition

Package Labels

information about their favorite products including calories, nutrients and more.

Information related to calories and nutrients is important to the FDA as well. “Today, ready access to reliable information about the calorie and nutrient content of food is even more important, given the prevalence of obesity and diet-related diseases in the United States,” Dr. Hamburg, M.D., Commissioner of Food and Drugs, said in a letter to industry according to the FDA.

Back-of-Package Labeling

The Nutrition Facts label was introduced 20 years ago, and nutrition information in readable type is required on almost all packaged foods by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This information usually appears on the back of the package. In the past two years the FDA has issued 2 proposed rules and 1 supplemental proposed rule on updating the Nutrition Facts label. For more information on the proposed changes and how they may impact you, check out our blog “Will Clearer Food Labels, Make Healthier Choices Clearer?

    Nutrition facts often included on back-of-package labeling are:
  • “% Daily Value” — that shows what portion of the amount of daily recommended nutrients the product provides, based on a 2,000-calorie diet.
  • Total fat
  • Saturated fat
  • Trans fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Fiber
  • Other nutrients
  • Serving size

Front and Back-of Package Labeling Together

According to The Journal of Consumer Affairs, a study was done on how the front and back of package labels influence consumer beliefs about health claims. The study revealed that combining the short health claims on the front and the full information on the back increases the consumers’ believability of the product’s health claims.

The next time you are shopping for your favorite snack food products make sure to keep an eye on the label whether it is on the front or back of the bag. It contains important information to keep you healthy while enjoying delicious foods!

Keeping an Eye on Sugar During the Holiday Season

Apple Pie Blondes

The holiday season is a time to get together and share a meal with family and friends. While there are a variety of foods served during this time of year, sweets and sugar are often some of the most prevalent menu items. Stay healthy and happy this season by reading your nutrition labels and keeping an eye on sugar intake.

Monitoring Sugar Intake

Do you know what one of the most dangerous and over consumed ingredients in our diets is? If you guessed “sugar” you guessed correctly! While sugar is perhaps one of the most delicious ingredients in our food and we love to eat sweets, too much sugar can be bad for us.

According to the Obesity Action Coalition, Americans drink more than 500 cans of soda every year, and one can of soda contains 10 tsp. of sugar. If you are the average American drinking 500 cans of soda a year you are taking in 52lbs. of sugar a year just from soft drinks. This is an extremely high sugar consumption considering the fact that men should consume no more than 9tsp. of sugar a day and women should consume no more than 6tsp.
Too much sugar can have a negative impact on our body leading to obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, tooth decay and even heart disease. It is important to become more aware of what we are putting into our bodies and what we are allowing our children to put into theirs so we can avoid health risks. In order to monitor sugar consumption we can read our food packaging labels and train ourselves to look at the nutrition value food is providing our bodies. While it is important to monitor calories, looking at sugar content is vital as well! Did you know that whether you are on the run or eating out, restaurants are legally required to provide you with the nutritional information to make healthy choices?

It is important to monitor sugar because it is in everything ranging from fast food, beverages, frozen food and so much more. Looking at nutrition labels is an excellent way to make sure we are not over consuming this ingredient. When we reach our limit we need to stop!

Nutrition Labels for Healthy Decisions

Nutrition Labels tell you about the nutrition of a particular product and include the following:

  1. Serving Size
  2. Number of Servings in the Package
  3. Calories per Serving
  4. Sugar per Serving
  5. Amount of Various Nutrients in the Product

Reading and understanding nutrition labels can help you make healthier food decisions, maintain a healthier weight and make sure you are consuming the right nutrients. If you are confused by labels consider reading our blog post “Confused by Labels?” which breaks down what you need to know about serving size, calories and vitamins and nutrients.

With the holidays right around the corner, let’s get started on understanding nutritional labels so we can have a happy healthy holiday season.

Evaluating Labels on Fresh Produce

Fresh Produces

October 24, 2015 is Food Day, a day that inspires many to change the way they interact with food. Food Day is also a good time to get inspired and take a look at what you are really eating. This year Food Day has the theme “Toward a Greener Diet.” Part of a green diet is consuming foods such as fresh produce. When consuming produce we often consider different kinds of fruits and vegetables, but it is also important to take a look at the labels on these products as well.

Food packaging labels on fresh produce have transformed the market over the last decade. Consuming quality food and keeping it safe from the time you receive it until you serve it is important. Often times, fresh products present special challenges in comparison to other food products. One of the key elements of maintaining quality is to be careful with the food from handling during the harvest until when it is served.

Grading and Standards

Did you know that few of the fresh produce items sold in the United States are actually graded? The USDA has established “grade standards,” which can be used to help make good decisions. In fact, most grade standards are Federal. However, some states have their own standards that have been established for certain produce. Fresh fruits and vegetables purchased under state standards generally do not have “U.S.” in the name of the grade according to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.

Shelf Life

To buy fresh produce and use it in a timely way, you want to know:

  1. What the vendor says its shelf life is
  2. How many days it has spent in transit to a distributor
  3. How long the distributor has kept it in storage

This allows you to determine the remaining shelf life before purchasing.

Every piece of fruit has a sticker and every vegetable has a scanning label, but did you know the numbers on these are codes provide information about the produce? The codes consist of 4 or 5 numbers and identify whether the produce is organic, grown with petroleum-based fertilizers or contain pesticides.

If a number is 4 digits it means the produce was grown in depleted soil and contains poisons. If the number is 5 digits and the first digit is 8 it means the produce is genetically modified. Genetically modified is when it contains genes not put there by nature. If the number is 5 digits and the first digit is 9 it means the produce has organic standard, but is not as strict as some produced by the serious organic farmer.

If you’re interested in finding out more about PLU numbers, simply go to the IFPS website, which provides the PLU database online. In addition to this, Natural News has more information about PLU labels.

Pack Expo Las Vegas 2015 Recap

EPI Labelers recently returned from Pack Expo 2015. This year’s event was the 20th anniversary and broke attendance records with 29,000 attendees, a 4 percent increase over 2014.

The event consisted of free seminars throughout the show floor and was packed with attendees. One of the popular topics at the event was the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This is the biggest reform of food safety laws in more than 70 years and was signed into law on January 4, 2011. On September 10, 2015 the preventive controls final rules were announced, with many businesses compliance dates beginning in September 2016.

While at Pack Expo we got to catch up with Bosch Packaging, a partner of ours. They told attendees that it is important to select equipment with hygienic designs to meet the new FSMA standards. FSMA’s new regulatory and enforcement powers nearly affect every link in the food supply chain and are important for packaging companies to be ready to battle against the food contamination issues.

Pack Expo, Las Vages 2015, C-Wrap

Food and beverage brand owners have very little time left to get their operations in compliance with the new FSMA regulations. The first set of rules took effect August 30, 2015, with compliance required in 1-3 years based on one’s business.

We were happy to be a part of Pack Expo where we could talk, inspire others in our industry and learn more about future growth with other plant-level managers, engineers, brand managers and packaging designers! We look forward to seeing what next year’s event brings.

Millennials Setting Food Trends


Are you a millennial? If you were born between 1982 and 2004 chances are you are. This generation is currently influencing many aspects of our economy, and the food industry is no different.

Millennials have different food priorities than previous generations and are focused on consuming foods that are good-for-you. This is causing manufacturers to think about the definition of “good for you” from the consumer side. In comparison to this young generation, older shoppers tend to believe good-for-you foods have lower calories and fat content, as well as less sodium and added sugars. Millennials are more interested in factors such as clean labels and easy-to-read ingredients. They want no artificial additives and like things such as functional packaging and on-the-go snack foods. In addition to this, they are interested in the story behind their food, particularly what is in their food and where it was made. Many brands and restaurants have started incorporating this information into their advertisements.

Mintel, a market intelligence agency, states “42 percent of millennial shoppers perceive private label store brands as more innovative than branded products.” They also report that “store brand shoppers are gravitating towards products that list ingredients they recognize, and feature prominent claims such as organic, low/no/reduced or made with natural ingredients.”

Millennials like clean labels and easy-to-read ingredients, and are judging food by its cover. They not only have a different definition of “good for you” then the older shoppers, they also eat differently. The millennial diet consists of smaller portions and does not include three big meals a day much like the baby boomer’s diet.

Susan Viamari, editor of Thought Leadership for IRI states, “consumers can’t get enough of that protein filled, on-the-go snack and meal time replacement.” Millennials and Gen-Xers have more active lifestyles then those before supporting Viamari’s statement. An on-the-go snack option gives them the ability to refuel during breaks in their busy schedules.

According to trend watchers, “35 percent of Millennial meals are really snacks.”

Millennials have been labeled the “foodie generation” and will soon have the power to outspend the boomer generation, which is why so many manufactures are paying attention to the attitudes and behaviors millennials have toward food.

What do you look for in your food labels?

Pack Expo Las Vegas 2015

Pack Expo Las Vegas is the world’s largest packaging event of the year, and is just around the corner! This year Pack Expo and the Pharma Expo Trade Show will come together again to exhibit at the same time in Las Vegas, September 28-30, 2015. PMMI will be teaming up again with ISPE to offer this growing joint trade show event.

Visit us at Booth #C-3903

Pack Expo Las Vegas 2015

Register for Free

Why Attend?

This expo will feature a mix of learning and breakthrough technologies right at your fingertips. You will be able to interact with fellow professionals and see the latest technology breakthroughs firsthand. By attending Pack Expo, you may just gain the outside perspective needed to solve you organization’s problem.

How we can help!

Come visit EPI Labelers at Pack Expo, we will be in Booth #C-3903. Our salesman, engineers, and service techs will all be there to answer any questions you have related to labelers! Stop by to learn more and for a hands on experience. All of our machines are engineered for ease of use and reliability, and are designed to integrate into your specific packaging lines.

We will be featuring several of our top of the line labelers including:

    1. Bakery System
      Our Bakery Labeler is ideal for adding promotional and date labels to baked goods and breads.
    1. Core Series Print/Apply on BestPack Case Taper
      This labeler can accommodate top and panel labels for items such as barcodes and addresses.
    1. Core Series Tamp
      Our Core Series Labelers are ideal for wipe-on, blow on and Tamp/Blow applications.
    1. Core Series Wipe-On
      This product is part of our Core Series Labelers.
    1. C-Wrap System
      This system is designed for labeling clamshell containers.
    1. Top & Bottom System
      Our Top & Bottom Labeler is ideal for quick and accurate label placement on all of your packages.
    1. M-Series
      This high-speed labeler is ideal for streamlining your production process and will save you time and money.
    1. Flex-PacTM on a Matrix bag maker
      Our flexible packaging labelers are designed to meet your needs and can accommodate a variety of applications for pouches and bags.

We will also have our New Print & Apply Labeler featuring SATO’s newest printer, the S84ex. Our new labeler now has a mono-plate design requiring fewer parts for unwind and rewind assemblies and includes an updated, full color touchscreen. The new integrated touchscreen replaces the old turn style buttons and is packed with features for both the operator and maintenance personnel. Operators can quickly make adjustments for optimum performance, while maintenance personnel can easily troubleshoot without using any tools.

Our labeling equipment is the answer to easy and efficient workflow production for our clients’ industries, which include; snack food, bakery, confectionery, beverage, dairy, coffee, meat and poultry, pet food, frozen food, fabric, textile and general packaging. For a detailed product list and to learn more please visit

Eat Smart This Summer With These Picnic Food Label Tips!

How much fun are you having this summer? The carefree summer season is in full swing with cookouts and picnics almost every weekend. Chances are when you are at a gathering with family and friends there is little time spent evaluating and talking about the ingredients on food packaging labels. While picnic foods are delicious, how often do you read the Nutrition Facts panel on the foods you are providing or consuming at the picnic?

This summer is a great time to get in the habit of looking before you picnic by scanning labels before you snack! There is no time like the present to get in the habit of evaluating food labels. Aren’t you somewhat curious about what you are eating?

Food Label 101

Did you know food companies are required by law to give you the facts about what you are eating? Reading labels takes some practice, but it helps you to make informed decisions about the foods you purchase and consume.

Labels provide you with a variety of information about the product you are eating, such as:

Picnic Food Eat Smart
  1. Serving Size
  2. Serving per Container
  3. Calories
  4. Calories from Fat
  5. Sugars
  6. Protein
  7. Total Fat
  8. Sodium

When looking at food labels it is important to look for foods that are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. You also want to look for foods that are low in sugar, sodium, cholesterol and fats (especially saturated fat and trans fat).

The ingredient list can tell you a lot about the food you are eating as well. According to the article “Food Smarts: Understanding Food Labels

• It is important to keep an eye out for foods that have a large number of ingredients containing sugars, salt and fats and oils. More often than not, foods that have a large amount of these ingredients are not the best choice for consumption.

• Foods with shorter ingredient lists tend to be better for eating. Often times, foods that have long ingredient lists are filled with extra chemicals and unhealthy additions.

At your next picnic, be food smart. Don’t deprive yourself of a favorite snack or force yourself to eat things you hate, but make smart decisions by reading food labels. This will give you the power to choose good foods that will help your body feel and function the way it should and give you more energy to finish summer off with a bang!

Anti-GMO Labeling Law is passed by U.S. House

Anit-GMO's Legislation

As you may have seen in the news, this recently passed house bill would prevent mandatory GMO labeling. Legislation would bar states and local government from requiring labeling on products that include genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This bill is now headed to the U.S. Senate. If passed, it would null and void labeling laws already passed in three states: Vermont, Connecticut and Maine.

Many other states have proposed similar legislation to require food industries to label their GMO products. California and Washington State are very interested in helping to defeat anti-GMO proposals.

Supporters claim that GMOs are proven safe. Even the largest food companies say GMO foods are safe and that labels would be misleading. They believe the laws around the country would make things expensive for the manufactures and confusing for consumers.

Opponents stated that more than 60 other countries require labeling of GMO foods and consumers have the right to know what their food is made of. Why should the U.S. be any different?

Here is what some of the Representatives had to say:

• “We cannot continue to keep Americans in the dark about the food they eat,” Democrat Rep. Peter DeFazio said, according to Food Safety News.

• An article on states “The reality is, biotechnology has time and time again proved safe,” the bill’s sponsor, Kansas Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo, said as debate began. “We should not raise prices on consumers based on the wishes of a handful of activists.”

• “It (the bill) makes it impossible for people to know what they are purchasing and eating. It is an attack on transparency,’ said Representative John Conyers Jr., a Democrat, in floor debate, according to CNBC.

• According to Reuters, Representative Jim McGovern said the following in an interview about his opposition to the bill, “Poll after poll shows the majority of Americans want to know if their food contains GMOs. I have this radical idea we ought to give the American people what they want.”

• According to CNBC, Representative G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat, said the bill would require regulators to examine the safety profile of new GMO foods, replacing a voluntary consultation process, and set a national standard for voluntary GMO labeling.

Labeling on a federal level makes GMO labeling completely voluntary. The United States Agriculture Department has offered a new government certification and labeling for non- genetically modified foods. For more on this certification consider reading the article “GMO-Free Certification.”

Representing more than 300 food companies, the Grocery Manufacturers Association has been a key player aiming to squash state efforts to force labeling of GMO foods. Many believe that this bill will stall in the Senate, but there is a growing support for the bill as well.

If this bill goes through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would be required to be the enforcer. In 1992 the FDA first allowed the sale and consumption of GMO products.
Where do you stand?

GMO-Free Certification

Many consumer groups have been pushing for mandatory labeling of GMO products recently and The United States Agriculture Department (USDA) is answering this call by offering a new government certification and labeling for non-genetically modified foods (Non-GMO).

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the new certification in a letter to his staff that was released on May 1. The letter stated that the agency’s Agricultural Marketing Service is developing a verification program for food products containing genetically modified ingredients.

There is a nonprofit group called Non-GMO Project who most companies have been using to label their GMO-free products. In fact, up until this point there have been no government labels that only certify a food as GMO-free. The USDA organic label certifies that foods are free of genetically modified ingredients, but many non-GMO foods aren’t organic.

On May 18th SunOpta Inc. identified themselves as “the first food manufacturing facility in the U.S. to receive USDA Process Verified program verification for Non-Genetically Modified Organisms/Non-Genetically Engineered products.” According to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack,

GMO or Non-GMO Labels

“other companies are already lining up to take advantage of this service as well.”

Why does this matter to consumers?

Many consumers are wary of GMO foods and question where they are in the food supply and whether they’re dangerous. There is no evidence that eating genetically modified foods poses a threat to health; however, more folks are avoiding them as a preventative measure.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association has been looking to the Food and Drug Administration to outline labeling standards that can be used voluntarily. Companies try to use GMO-free as a marketing advantage, because it is what their consumers are asking for. It’s clear that some companies are welcoming the USDA’s help with GMO labeling.
The new system includes the following:

  1. Companies that want to use the USDA’s Non-GMO Label will pay to participate.
  2. They will have to submit documentation from onsite audits.
  3. The USDA will also send auditors out to verify foods are not being produced with any GMO materials.

Possible Road Blocks

A House bill introduced earlier this year is designed to block mandatory GMO labeling around the country. The bill provides for USDA certification but would not make it mandatory. This bill would also override any state laws that require the labeling.

Vermont became the first state to require the labeling in 2014, and that law will go into effect next year if it survives a legal challenge from the food industry. For more on GMOs and food packaging labels consider reading the article “New GMO Labeling Update – Vermont.”

Labeling Local

Labeling Local

Summer is here and that means enjoying fresh produce as a part of our diet. Often times when we shop for produce, we check for things such as ripeness, bruising, freshness, organic or the increasingly popular term “locally grown.” Have you encountered “locally grown” produce? This term is almost or even more confusing than “organic.” What do you think it means?

What does local mean?

When evaluating local foods, it is important to have a clear definition of “local,” and often times not everyone has the same definition. Start by considering where you shop for produce. Ask the manager at your supermarket if they purchase foods that are grown locally. Did you know that not all “local” labels are equal? Ask the manager what their definition of “local” is. Sometimes this area is in a 50-mile radius and sometimes it is in a 250-mile radius. However you define “local,” the meaning to you should certainly include “from nearby.”

There is no legal definition of “local” in food labeling. According to research by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the definition adopted by the U.S. Congress in the 2008 Food, Conservation, and Energy Act (2008 Farm Act) is “The total distance that a product can be transported and still be considered a “locally or regionally produced agricultural food product” is less than 400 miles from its origin, or within the State in which it is produced.”

Thinking Local

The local food movement aims to develop more self-reliant food networks, improve local economies, and increase health in some areas. Local food is an alternative to the global food model which often involves food travelling long distances before reaching the consumer. A local food network is comprised of relationships between food producers, distributors, retailers, and consumers in a particular place. All of these folks work together to increase food security and ensure economic and social sustainability of a community.

Labels are designed to signal that food we want, whatever we want it to be, organic or local.
Do your research and ask all your questions to make sure you are getting what you want out of your locally labeled foods.

For a better understanding of terms such as natural and organic, consider reading “Natural, Organic, Local, Grass-Fed – What’s the Difference?”