Confused by Labels?

Evaluating food labels is common behavior in the society we live in. As we put a greater emphasis on eating healthy, monitoring calorie consumption and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, evaluating food labels has become an important part of this process. By reading food labels, we are able to examine the calorie count and nutrition information before making a final decision about whether or not to eat the product. Often times, many individuals do not look at the entire label when making their choice. While it is important to focus on calories and vitamins, you can’t just focus on one part of the label because it won’t provide the full story. It is important to examine the amount of sugar, fat and carbohydrates in the product as well.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when evaluating your favorite foods:

Serving Size

The first step in evaluating a label is starting with the serving size amount. All the information on the label is based on the serving size, which can vary because no two serving sizes are the same (e.g., 1 cup, 8 oz). Sometimes a serving size will be way less than what you’re used to eating — like only half a cup of cereal. So always make sure to check this prior to snacking!
The label will also list how many servings are in the package. Even things that seem like they’d be a single serving, such as a bottle of juice or bag of chips, may contain more than one serving. If you eat or drink the entire thing, you’re getting more vitamins and minerals but you’re also getting way more calories, sugar, fat that you might not want.

Calories

A calorie measures how much energy a food provides to your body. Did you know that we consume more calories than needed without eating the correct nutrients to keep us healthy? The number on the food label shows how many calories are in one serving of that food. The number of servings you consume determines the number of calories you actually eat.

Mac and Cheese Label
Image Credit: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Here is an example of a Mac and Cheese label. If you decided to eat the entire box without looking at the serving size, you would have eaten double the calories

without even realizing it. While the Mac and Cheese has protein, calcium and iron, it also contains sodium, carbohydrates and sugar, which may be detrimental to your diet. This is just one reason why it is important to have an understanding of food labels, so you can make food labels work for you.

Calorie Guide

With the large emphasis placed on calorie consumption, how do you evaluate how many calories are too many for one particular product? Listed below is a general calorie guide from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for your reference.

  1. 40 Calories is low
  2. 100 Calories is moderate
  3. 400 Calories is high

The Mac and Cheese has 250 calories per serving so it falls into the moderate-high calorie range. To take a deeper dive into calories, it is also important to look at the calories from fat. As a general rule of thumb, if you eat 2,000 calories a day, about 600 of these calories should come from fat. Meaning about 30% of all the calories consumed in a day should come from fat.

Vitamins and Nutrients

When evaluating food labels, remember that the most important part is the intake of vitamins and minerals. Eating foods that are plentiful with vitamins and minerals helps to keep our bodies healthy. During the label evaluation process, remember to select foods with a high vitamin and nutrient count per serving to get as much nutrition as possible.

How do you evaluate food labels? Check out “Will Clearer Food Labels, Make Healthier Choices Clear?” to get a better understanding of how the serving size can be deceiving, and how the serving size changes the calorie intake.

Why Food Brands Are Moving to Clean Labels

What are clean labels?

A Clean Label is difficult to define since consumers have many different interpretations of this term and there is no actual standard. A Clean Label could refer to many things:

Clean Label
  • An easy-to-understand label.
  • A simple ingredient list.
  • A product with ingredients one can pronounce.
  • A product without additives, artificial preservative, dyes, chemicals, etc.
  • A product with allergens clearly labeled.


  • Companies often use the phrase “Clean Label” to describe products made with ingredients that consumers understand. “Clean Label” doesn’t necessarily refer to only products manufactured with all-natural ingredients or without additives and preservatives. It simply means offering a clean label that provides clear information so a consumer can make the best decision based on their preferences.

    Recent Research

    Whatever the meaning of “Clean Labels,” research shows that most consumers avoid artificial or overly processed foods. A recent study by HealthFocus International shows that 77% of shoppers are interested in natural foods.

    Many manufacturers are putting more effort into reducing the number of ingredients in many products to have cleaner labels.

    The Hershey Co.

    In many products, The Hershey Co. has switched to simpler ingredients. They are making products with recognizable ingredients such as milk from local farms, roasted California almonds, cocoa beans and sugar. They also share more information on ingredients such as sourcing.

    Kraft Foods Group

    Kraft Foods Group replaced the high-fructose corn syrup in original Capri Sun drink pouches, and are in the process of removing the artificial sweetener from the Roarin’ Waters drink pouches. Kraft has been actively removing undesirable ingredients from many products like Philadelphia cream cheese, Macaroni and Cheese and select Kraft Single sliced cheese to clean up their labels.

    As consumers are over-loaded with information, the demand for simple, easy to understand labels on food and beverage products continues to rise.  Consumers want to know how their processed foods and beverage are prepared and what ingredients are in them. 

    The clean label approach is becoming more and more important to the consumer, making it difficult for the manufacture with no real definition of “Clean Labels.” The manufacture has to do what they think their consumer believes is clean.

    What does “Clean Label” mean to you?

    Snack Attack: The Rise of Snack Foods in the USA

    When was the last time you ate a snack? Maybe it was a protein bar on your way out the door this morning. Perhaps it was something you grabbed from the vending machine or your lunch break. Are you eating your “I-can-make-it-to-5pm” go-to snack right now?

    Today 45% of consumers replace at least one meal each day with a snack. We love snacking, and no country in the world loves it more than the United States.

    Snack Attack

    Consider these statistics:

    • 51% of consumers report eating snacks twice a day.
    • 64% of consumers are snacking on chocolate.
    • Between 2009 and 2014, the number of adults eating nutritional bars for breakfast increased 11%
    • Sales of packaged snacks are set to grow by 4% through 2015

    Oh, and the snack food industry is projected to increase 7% annually and by valued at $334 billion dollars (USD) by the end of 2015!

    Snacking is a huge eating trend with subscription snack boxes popping up everywhere (NatureBox, Graze, etc), and food companies report that their snack lines are their biggest growing markets right now.

    Americans are busier than ever, and our on-the-go lifestyles require quick snacks that replace meals (protein bars, soup/mac-n-cheese bowls, freezer burritos or TV dinners). Many people do not have time to prepare a lunch for work – and often, they don’t even have time to leave the office to grab a bite at the coffee shop down the street.

    The need for speed and efficiency doesn’t replace the desire for healthy choices. The natural market is one of the largest growing markets, and brands are capitalizing on it. Companies like Healthy Pantry pioneered their Cook Simple meal kits to appeal to busy families who still need a healthy meal that can be prepared in a few minutes. Kroger reports that their “Simple Truth” store brand was their most successful product launch ever – reaching billion-dollar brand status in just 2 years. Healthier options such as fruits, yogurt, and nuts that come in easy to carry packages have seen huge boosts in sales in recent years.

    Our snack craze goes beyond the grocery store aisles into restaurants and more! Places like Chipotle and Panera Bread have capitalized on the American desire for healthy fast dining options. Panera takes it a step farther by allowing customers to order online and simply pick up their order off a shelf by the door. Cafés and coffee shops have beefed up their snack offerings – Kind bars, bags of trail mix, and other snacks can be easily added onto your Starbucks coffee order in the morning. It’s perfect for that mid-afternoon snack later.

    Here at EPI we are definitely seeing growth in the “healthy” snack segment (ie. Organic, reduced fat, gluten free) but, we are also seeing growth in snacks packaged for on the go (ie. Single serve packs, packages designed for car travel and packs that fit easily into backpacks/handbags etc.

    Pack Expo East 2015

    Pack Expo East

     Visit us in Booth #1011!

    We are one week away from the first ever East Coast Pack Expo in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This show will draw attendees from all over the North East bringing top processing and packaging supplies together. Pack Expo East is on a smaller scale giving attendees more time to engage with those on the show floor without the enormity PackExpo International.

    Pack Expo East brings:

    • Advanced processing and packaging solutions
    • Leading OEMs within the industry
    • Solutions specialized to your industry
    • New ideas from other industries on processing and packaging

    This show is supposed to have nearly 400 suppliers, 20 targeted educational opportunities and 3 days to experience it all! Join us and experience the innovation in action on the show floor. Get your creative juices flowing and talk show with engineers from the top suppliers.

    EPI Labelers will be exhibiting in Booth #1011. We will be featuring several of our top of the line labelers including:
    C-Wrap System, Core Series Print/Apply, Core Series Labeler, UII and M-Series. You will also be able to check out our Flex-PacTM in Matrix’s booth #706. Our labeler will be on their bag maker.  Stop by our booth and talk with our top salesman, engineers and service techs! Let’s get innovative together and solve your labeling needs!

    Our machines are 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 the latest information on our machines, industry trends and all of EPI’s latest news and happenings, check out our blog.

    How to Clean Your Labeling Equipment

    It’s a New Year with new resolutions. Many have decided to get healthier, spend less and even to be more organized. Why not include your labeling equipment in that resolution? There are several easy things you can do to ensure a long life and greater efficiency for your labeling equipment.

    When it comes to our labelers, there are some simple no-cost things you can do to make sure your machine is operating properly for the life of the labeler. As a leader in the pressure sensitive labeling market, EPI has gained much experience from working with market leaders in snack food, confectionery, coffee, and consumer products industries. We are constantly developing new products and better methods to solve labeling problems to ease the burden on production personnel.

    Here are some recommendations we have for all our clients on how to keep your labelers running like the day they were installed.

    Cleaning and Sanitation

    Wipe down the following with a plant-approved, liquid food-grade cleaning agent using a cloth and then wiped dry with another cloth:

    UII Labeler: Parts to Keep Clean
    • Main Plate
    • Peeler Bar
    • Rollers
    • Supply Spool

    It is critical the peeler bar and the applicator are clean of adhesive. The Label Sensor should be wiped clean with a dry cloth also.

    The cleaning for the Top Plate, Supply Spool, and Label Sensor should be done anytime machine production is stopped and at a minimum once a day.

    EPI Labelers are designed to work within a normal food-packaging environment. If the labeler is operated in a dusty area, be sure to wipe the machine off as much as possible.

    Don’t Forget!

    • Cover the machine and remove power if equipment above or around it is being cleaned, especially if water is being used in the process.
    • Clean the labeler after surrounding equipment has been sanitized.
    • CAUTION: DO NOT wet down this machine or directly hit it with an air hose. Damage to the unit or personal injury may occur.
      Caution

    The 2014 Labeling Craze and Liabilities for the Future

    Every representation about food has the potential for misbranding claims in civil or criminal court. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s food labeling regulations are just another legal matter waiting for their day in court.

    2014 Labeling Craze and Liabilities

    The Labeling Craze of 2014

    In 2014 we were presented with the latest labeling requirements complete with revised demands related to nutritional content. (See: “Will Clearer Food Labels Make For Healthier Choices?”) Compliance with labeling regulations is necessary because non-compliance could result not just in serious injury to consumers but also significant civil liabilities for producers. The most dangerous risk to a producer may actually come from the individual who does read the nutrition label. According to Food Safety Magazine, studies show that less than 50% of consumers regularly read nutrition labels on prepackaged food. And the number of consumers who will ask to see nutrition information in restaurants will likely be even lower. However, those who read the information are doing so for a reason. The diabetic consumer could end up in a diabetic shock if the labeling information is inaccurate. A consumer who relies on accurate sodium content may end up in cardiac arrest. Inaccuracies on nutritional information could be fatal for consumers with pre-existing conditions. The labeling craze of 2014 was focused on the nation’s nutrition with the hope of addressing obesity. Lobbyists, lawmakers, and more believe that providing more complete labeling would give consumers a better understanding of how to be healthier.

    We saw big changes including:

    Gluten-Free Labeling Regulation
    Food Labeling Modernization Act
    • GMO Labeling Updates in states like Vermont
    Changes to Calorie Labeling Regulation

    Changes to Restaurant Food Labeling

    Originally the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 specifically exempted foods sold in restaurant-type settings. Fast-forward twenty years and 2010’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act set out to provide consumers access to certain nutritional information when purchasing food in restaurants. This was just finalized on Dec. 1, 2014. This additional nutritional information requirement very closely resembles the information and format required for Nutrition Fact Labels contained on prepackaged foods.

    What’s Next for Nutritional Labeling in 2015

    The FDA claims the basis of both proposals is to present the information in such a way as to maximize the attention and understanding of the consumer, with the hopes the consumer will make healthier eating choices. Still the question remains: Will new nutritional information result in improved food choices or will it simply overwhelm the consumer?

    Regardless of the answer, changes to nutritional labeling are here to stay and the impact on producers is significant, as these regulations are strict and non-compliance could have negative ramifications on many levels.

    The Two Sides to the Meat Labeling Debate

    The Two Sides to the Meat Labeling Debate

    The Meat Labeling debate has been an issue between the NAFTA countries (U.S., Canada, Mexico) for several years. Most recently, in October of 2014, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled in Canada’s favor addressing the controversial U.S. country-of-origin meat-labeling scheme (COOL) which has been found in violation of free trade agreements by the WTO.

    The U.S. Meat Labeling Background

    Effective in 2013, the latest U.S. labeling rules require meat labels to indicate the country (or countries) where the animal was born, raised, and then slaughtered.

    Originally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture allowed the labels to say “Product of U.S.” or “Product of U.S. and Canada.” When the WTO rejected this approach, the USDA made the labels more specific. For example, the new labels would state that the animal was “born in Mexico, raised and slaughtered in the United States” or “born, raised and slaughtered in the United States.” However, the WTO also rejected these revised rules.

    Canada’s WTO Win

    A WTO report released on October 20th states that the U.S. labeling rules give an unfair advantage to domestic meat products. For Canada (and Mexico), COOL is a non-tariff trade barrier designed to make it more costly to handle beef and swine born or raised in Canada. Because of these trade-barriers, Canada has seen a lower demand for their livestock and higher handling costs – costs that exceed $1 billion per year.

    Ed Fast, Canada’s Minister of International Trade, and Gerry Ritz, Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, responded to the U.S. appeal with a promise to keep retaliation on the table. The U.S. could face trade retaliation from Canada in the way of meat tariffs on U.S. meat, as well as chocolate, cereal, wine, and other food products.

    Their joint statement stated, “Canada is deeply disappointed with the U.S. decision to appeal the WTO ruling on COOL. Canada fully expected the United States to live up to its international trade obligations and comply with the WTO ruling, which reaffirms Canada’s long-standing view that the revised U.S. COOL measure is blatantly protectionist and fails to comply with the WTO’s original ruling against it.”

    Still, the WTO found that the labels serve their intended purpose of supplying consumer information – Canada and Mexico claimed the labels did not.

    The U.S. Appeal

    The WTO announced that the U.S. was appealing the ruling for a 3rd time within the allotted 60-day appeal period. Although few details have been released, the WTO says that appeals have to be based on points of law, such as legal interpretation. They cannot reopen factual findings made by the decision-making panel.

    This is the U.S.’s third loss on the COOL issue, but it does mean the U.S. puts off the time when its economy might be forced to pay punitive tariffs on some of the $52 billion in sales Americans make to Canada.

    The U.S. Divide

    U.S. business groups are divided on the labeling rule. Some large meatpackers oppose the regulation, saying it drives up costs and hurts trade with Canada and Mexico. Other agricultural groups, however, back the appeal, saying it could help give consumers more information. With all the changes to GMO labeling, gluten-free labeling, and stricter guidelines for other food product, it’s clear that consumers want more information. Still, with rising beef prices, less regulation could mean lower prices.

    Many U.S. farmers who compete with Mexican and Canadian ranchers welcome the appeal. The feel it is the right thing for the American people to know where there meat is coming from. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson on Friday called it “the right thing to do for American family farmers, ranchers and consumers.”

    Flexible Packaging Market Is Expecting Strong Growth Through 2018

    Recent studies of the Flexible Packaging Market show an expectation of continued growth through 2018. According to a study by MarketsandMarkets, this industry will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.1% every year through 2018. Additionally, the BRIC countries should see the greatest growth, which is no surprise considering the advancements these countries have been making in recent years along with their extensive populations.

    So why Flexible Packaging? Why move from glass, paper and rigid plastics? Really, there are so many advantages to Flexible Packaging, and companies are embracing the trend.

    Weight and Volume
    Pouches utilize 20% less volume and haves 1/10 the packaging weight. Both of these qualities make for lower freight costs and less storage space.

    Environmentally Friendly
    Because flexible packages utilize less volume and weight, the company’s carbon footprint is reduced making this trend an environmentally friendly one. Less volume and weight lowers the disposal cost and lessens transportation-related energy and fuel consumption. According to a study by Fres-co there is a 50% reduction in landfill waste and there is a 71% reduction in BTU consumption.

    Great Taste and Safe Use
    With pouches you eliminate the metallic taste and achieve a longer shelf life. There are no metal shards or edges to cause cuts. There is no BPA or chance of metal fragments in the finished product.

    Convenient and Attractive
    Many consumers find canned foods and glass jars difficult to open, particularly elderly consumers. However,pouches are much simpler to open making them more appealing to the consumer. Pouches can be molded into interesting shapes, are microwavable, and can have a wide variety of closures attached including re-sealable strips.

    Consumer trends play a role in the popularity of almost everything. This is true for flexible packaging as well. With the increase in fast-paced consumer lifestyles, food products that offer convenience are increasingly popular. Pouches provide that convenience and ease better than traditional packaging. Great quality, more cost-efficient and easier for your operation and the environment, pouches are the right choice for so many reasons.

    EPI is a dedicated manufacturer of high quality labeling for packaging and promotional needs. As the leading manufacturer of Flexible Packaging labelers the EPI Flex-Pac™ family easily integrates with a wide variety of packaging machines including, VFFS (vertical bag maker), Pouch, HFFS (horizontal flow wrappers) and stretch wrappers. We have been designing labelers for Flexible Packaging for well over 30 years. Our machines are dependable, reliable and versatile.

    For more information on labeling Flexible Packages check out our articles “How Flexible Packaging Impacts Labeling” or “Advantages of Flexible Packaging for Fresh Foods“. You can also give us a call and talk with one of our top experts.

    Labeler Applicators

    What’s the difference?

    Tamp/Blow label applicators are a non-contact way to apply labels to hard-to-reach areas on products like recessed lids, such as pie shell containers. Each label is fed onto the labeler’s tamp pad and held by a vacuum. When a product is detected the pneumatic cylinder extends and the label is blown onto the surface of the product.  This applicator allows for a variable distance. Bags of bread are another example of a product that you might label with a tamp/blow applicator.

    EPI Systems Product
    Print/Apply System Pallets, Boxes and Trays
    Core Print/Apply Trays, Pallets, and Boxes
    Core Labeler Bottles, Pallets, Boxes, Trays and Tubs
    UII Bottles, Tubs, Boxes, Pallets and Trays
    Bakery System Bread and Bun Bags

    Vac/Blow label applicators allow safe and contact-free labeling. This is a wonderful labeling application used for flexible packaging such as chip or candy bags. The label is fed onto the labeler’s tamp pad. A burst of air blows the label onto the surface when a product is detected without impact or damage to the product. Labeling flexible packages is something we do a lot. This is probably the application that we use 80% of the time.

    EPI Systems Product
    UII Bottles, Tubs, Boxes, Pallets and Trays
    Bakery System Bread and Bun Bags
    Flex-Pac™ Bottles, Tubs, Boxes, Pallets, and Trays
    Core Print/Apply Trays, Pallets and Boxes
    Core Labeler Bottles, Pallets, Boxes, Trays and Tubs

    Wipe-On label applicators use a brush, a roller or other material to wipe the label onto the product. This application can be used on flexible packages as well as detergent bottles, lids of margarine containers and even clamshell containers.

    EPI Systems Product
    M-Series Bottles, Tubs, Boxes, Trays, Pallets, Pouches, Horizontal/Flow Wrappers
    Core Labeler Bottles, Pallets, Boxes, Trays and Tubs

    Tamp label applicators come in brief contact with the product. When the product is detected the pneumatic cylinder extends causing the pad to briefly contact the product in order to tamp the label on. Cases of yogurt or pallets of decorative rocks.

    EPI Systems Product
    Print/Apply System Pallets, Boxes and Trays
    Core Print/Apply Trays, Pallets, and Boxes
    Core Labeler Bottles, Pallets, Boxes, Trays and Tubs
    UII Bottles, Tubs, Boxes, Pallets and Trays
    Bakery System Bread and Bun Bags
    Flex-Pac™ Bottles, Tubs, Boxes, Pallets, and Trays

    When deciding on the right application for your next labeling job, remember:

    • Identify your need.
    • Where in your production line will the labeling process take place?

    These two things will help determine the type of labeler and application needed. Contact EPI Labelers for your LABELER needs. Knowing the labeler and application you will be using will help determine labels and label sizes that are possible. For more information check out our blog: How do I know what labeler and/or label to use?

    3 Great Reasons to Attend Pack Expo 2014

    Industry Knowledge and Training

    Pack Expo is known for quality by suppliers around the world. This tradeshow provides processing and packaging innovations for every vertical market in the packaging industry. In today’s competitive world it is very important to stay on top of the next big thing. Pack Expo provides attendees the opportunity to learn from the experts and build strong business partnerships.

    • Find the most efficient solutions for your processing and packaging needs.
    • Gain insight into every industry represented.
    • Acquire valuable ideas and connections from within your own industry.

    Attendees can learn how to advance their processing and packaging operations in order to stay competitive. Presentations on emerging technology, sessions on safe food manufacturing and 30-minute talks from the industry leaders are all available for attendees. The knowledge and training one can gain from attending Pack Expo is endless.

    Face to Face Relationships

    What better way to meet with potential vendors or clients than face to face. You can improve your buying decisions by getting to know the suppliers and the products they have to offer your company. Having a complete understanding and knowledge of the product you are buying allows you to make better purchasing decisions. You will be able to watch processing and packaging solutions in action. You can hold product and materials in your hands and examine them. You can even compare equipment side by side; see firsthand how the equipment works and gain a better understanding as to if it will work for your company. You can ask questions and discover things that email just can’t convey.

    Check out EPI!

    We will be in booth #4918 featuring our Top of the Line Labelers. Stop by our booth and talk with us about your production line and how we can best service your needs. For more information on what we will be exhibiting at the show check out our blog post Pack Expo International 2014, Chicago!

    We exhibit at Pack Expo every year. According to PMMIReports this year’s show will have more exhibitors then ever and is the 2nd largest Pack Expo event in history. EPI believes this show produces more traffic and actual decision makers than any other show that we attend. Pack Expo brings together current customers and decision makers at the largest packaging equipment show and also allows us a chance to interact with all of our OEM partners. It is truly the show that everyone attends.

    Pack Expo Chicago 2014

    PACK EXPO International is ESSENTIAL

    EFFICIENCY – Where else can you compare practically every processing and packaging solution out there—from 1,800+ suppliers—all in one place?
    ENERGY – There’s nothing like watching processing and packaging innovations in action, holding materials and containers in your hands and examining equipment side by side.
    EDGE – Staying competitive means walking the same show floor your competitors are walking, latching on to the latest trends, and learning strategies that work from industry experts.
    EXCITEMENT – Witness the unveiling of breakthrough technologies, see what new robots can do, try your hand at the latest in automation, get ideas from engineers in other industries.
    ENGAGEMENT – You’ll get the face time you need to problem-solve on the spot and build strong business partnerships with suppliers.

    We hope to see you next month in Chicago!