Do Your Labels Translate? Regulatory Requirements for Food Packaging and the Need for Translation Services

Dynamic Language | May 11, 2015

food_packagingIf you’re selling food, it’s very important to properly label all ingredients, nutritional information, etc. What does that entail? Well, it depends on what market you’re selling in. At the end of last year, the European Union enacted strict legislation regarding how food is labeled. This means that when exporting food products to be sold in Europe, you need to make sure they comply with those regulations. It also means that all of these new labels need to be properly translated.

Nutritional Information Requirements

Previously, providing specific nutritional values for foods was completely voluntary in Europe. Some companies added it for customer convenience, whereas others simply labeled foods as healthy or unhealthy, using the symbol of red and green traffic lights. And plenty of food products had no nutritional labels at all.

However, as of December 2014, the EU requires that a variety of nutritional facts, including fat and salt content, carbohydrates, and more, be displayed on all pre-packaged foods in order to keep consumers better informed and combat rising obesity levels.

Labeling Food Correctly

What does this mean for your food products? Well, if you’re exporting to Europe, they’ll need to comply with the new labeling system. It also means that all nutritional information will have to be translated into the official language of every European country in which you intend to sell your products.

This may seem simple on the surface. A lot of nutritional information is numbers and percentages, which read the same across the EU. But what about the list of ingredients? And the warnings of potential allergens, which are also required by the new regulations? Translating those incorrectly can mean non-compliance for your product and serious risks for your consumers. Therefore, it’s essential that your food packaging and labeling be as clear and accurate as possible.

Ensuring Proper Translation

Depending on how many products you sell, and to how many countries, complying with the new EU regulations can involve translating nutritional information for hundreds of products into a dozen or more different languages. Such an undertaking may not be something your company has the resources or desire to tackle on their own. The best choice may be to enlist the help of a translation services provider that specializes in the retail sector and who can ensure both accuracy and compliance with EU regulations, for all products and languages.

How will they do that? The first step is to have a checklist. There will be a list of requirements that they can check off for every label and package they translate to make sure nothing is overlooked. The second step will be to integrate the new guidelines into their language glossaries. All required ingredient and allergen information must be readily available to translate into any language that may be used.

There are plenty of other packaging and labeling requirements for food products outside the European Union as well. It’s important to be intimately familiar with all of the necessary regulations for every country you export to and employ a translator that can help you fulfill these requirements in each country. If you don’t, it may cost you a lot in fines and fees, plus the inevitable cost of relabeling all of your products so they are in compliance. It’s much better to maintain both compliance and accuracy from the start, no matter what country and language you’re dealing with.



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