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Food Ingredient Labels
"The Truth is More Important than the Facts" ~ Frank Lloyd Wright

Food ingredient labels, we all see them, we all rely on them, and now you need to create your own.

First, let's get some details straight, then we'll get on to building an example label.

As a manufacturer, I work with ingredient labels a lot.

My hope is that you come away from this page with a good understanding of what you need in these labels.

Staying on the good side of health safety and nutrition is hard enough.

No one needs to have deceptive information listed on ingredient labels.

Creating an ingredient label isn't rocket science, but it seems like it when we try to accommodate Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements.

Knowing The Rules

First things first. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires a breakdown if ingredients in their descending order of predominance. In other words, listing the heaviest (the most) ingredients first and then progressively down to the least (decreasing by weight).

Packaging a product for sale (or wholesale) requires a license from the Department of Agriculture. In my case, here in Washington State, it is WSDA that I answer to. They helped me with the application, right down to getting the floor plan on paper.

You will then be required to show the food ingredient labels on the package.

As well, you'll need to show a "best if used by" date, and these labels must be placed in an easy to find place on the package.

Expect Inspections

The Department of Agriculture will send an inspector. This inspector is similar, but not the same as a health safety inspector for restaurants where food is prepared and served for immediate consumption.

The inspector wants to see a breakdown of each and every ingredient, and subcomponents.

That is for each piece of chocolate candy within each box of chocolate candies that I make.

Compliance is important and strict, but the inspectors can be helpful at the same time.

Not following the rules can bring on consequences anywhere from a low score on the inspection sheet, to a national recall.

There are many reputable labs that specialize in providing quality nutrition labels.

However, you can create your own food ingredient labels without the use of commercial software.

Creating An Ingredient Label

Let's break the process of creating food ingredient labels down into a step by step process.

If you package your chocolate candy as an assortment, as I did with LB's Creative Candies, the assortment now needs a single food ingredient label for the "combined chocolate candies."

You will need to do some weighing of the ingredients to discover which has the most weight.

Get Out Your Scale

If you don't have one then you gotta get an EatSmart Precision Pro scale!

They're inexpensive, light weight, and don't take up a lot of space. No cords so there easy to move if you're in a small kitchen, and have a year battery life.

The EatSmart Digital scale easily changes between measures in kilograms, grams, ounces, and pounds & has great customer service in case anything goes wrong.

This EatSmart scale is simple to use, will take care of most weighing needs and has the much needed "tare" option.

Set The Tare

If you don't know what tare is, it's the weight of just the components and not the box/bowl/bag/etc.

Meaning you weigh the container, hit "tare" so it "zero's out" the scale with the container on it. Then simply put your components in the container to measure.

This is a handy feature when you're filling a box for packaging. Less handling of the item/contents.

This is Only an Example.

You must be accurate in each components weight

Are considering creating a Nutrition Facts Label?

You might want to take advantage of the EatSmart Digital Nutrition Scale - Professional Food and Nutrient Calculator instead.

It has all the features of the EatSmart Precision Pro scale and a lot more features you will need for calculating nutritional values.

With this scale you get the best of both scales. Calculate calories, carbs, fiber, sodium, fats, vitamin k and six other nutrients from thousands of packaged and 999 whole foods.

You find the nutritional information it provides quite impressive. There's no other like it, and you'l find it useful to count calories in the diet as well

It saves up to 99 entries for daily or weekly tracking Weighs in grams (to nearest whole gram) and ounces (to nearest .1 ounce).

It will also handle a max weight 11 pounds (more than enough for chocolate candy making, and has the Tare feature, auto power off.

For personal use, counting calories doesn't get any easier!

The customer service is phenomenal.

Find Weights Of Ingredients

You want to first gather up all your ingredients. For the sake of complexities, let's use a simple caramel in chocolate.

I use a candy mold for caramels in LB's Creative Candies. Each mold cavity has a total weight of 0.40 ounce when filled. I will use a little more chocolate than caramel.

TARE the weight of an empty candy mold

Place the chocolate candy mold on the scale, then:

  • Hit "Tare"
  • Fill the mold a quarter full
  • Note the weight measure
  • add some caramel to get about three fourths full
  • Note the weight measure
  • Top off the mold to level - tap it down removes air bubles
  • Note the weight measure

Now add the two chocolate weights. For mine I get 0.24 ounce chocolate

The caramel should round off the total weight at 0.16 ounce caramel

  • List each component from the ingredient labels from suppliers

Peter's Caramel:
Ingredients: corn syrup, sugar, milk, fructose, hydrogenated coconut oil,
butter, mono and diglycerides, salt, soy lecithin (an emulsifier), vanillin (an
artificial flavor).

Lindt Extra Fine Dark Chocolate:
INGREDIENTS: Chocolate, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Vanilla (Natural Flavor).

Here's where you would also list extras if you add anything else. We won't here.

  • (If any) List your added ingredients (cinnamon, cocoa powder, etc.)

Match up ingredients:

  • Chocolate, Sugar, Cocoa Butter have the most weight
  • Corn Syrup, milk, fructose, hydrogenated coconut oil

I will stop there to make a point with "butter" in Peter's Caramel. For some reason, Peter's does not break down Butter to its sub-components.

Let me do it for them

  • Butter [pasteurized cream, salt] 
  • salt, soy lecithin (an emulsifier)
  • vanillin (an artificial flavor), Vanilla (Natural Flavor)

Now you can bring them all together (in that order) to make food ingredient labels for one piece of chocolate candy.

Chocolate, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Corn Syrup, milk, fructose, hydrogenated coconut oil, Butter [pasteurized cream, salt], salt, soy lecithin (an emulsifier), vanillin (an artificial flavor), Vanilla (Natural Flavor)

Again, this is only an example so make sure you do the math on actual weights.

If you are in doubt, contact the manufacturer and request the data sheet on each item you'll be using.

Most manufacturers usually have them on-line as a PDF file.

Sometimes, inadvertent labeling issues happen.

It all literally comes down to good faith disclosure of a food ingredient label and food nutrition facts label.

Hopefully you now have a general idea on how to put food ingredient label together easier.

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