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5 top tips for accurate multilingual food labelling

Posted 25/01/17

Back in February 2013 the UK was in the middle of the horse meat crisis, I wrote an article about the correct labelling of food, entitled “100% horse meat translated into 26 languages

In the article I discussed some of the limiting factors on accuracy of food label translation, a fundamental one being the accuracy of the original text. Using meat declarations as an example, the scandal was that products containing horse meat were being sold labelled as 100% beef, translate such a misdescription into 26 languages, and you will be equally none-compliant in each of the 26 target languages!

Here are our 5 top tips for accurate multilingual food labelling:

  • Before thinking about translation, ensure the legal accuracy of the source text. If the product is misdescribed in English it will also be misdescribed when translated.
  • Do all the necessary due diligence to ensure your packaging is legally complaint for the target market(s), including commissioning a compliance report if needed.
  • Ensure you have the full legally required text, normally food labels struggle for space on pack, so when going multi-lingual the temptation is to cut the text to the absolute minimum, but if you miss anything out which is legally required the packaging won’t be compliant, and also if you need additional translation after finishing the project you will be paying extra.
  • Think carefully about the number of required languages – as a consumer I like clear packaging, prominence of my own language, and readability; all of these will be compromised if you try to include too many languages.
  • Only use professional translation by translators experienced in food label translation, for EU languages this should include a check against EU approved terminology, and all food labelling translations should include independent QA.

More information can be found on our food label translation page.

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