Translating Food Labels

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Translating food labels is a significant part of our work.

As you would expect, there are important legal issues with food label translation. We have to be careful to translate legal names as well as ingredients correctly. There are also often important stylistic issues. For example, designers like to be consistent in the way they layout the text. When dealing with a language, or several languages with which they are not familiar, this can cause problems. German has very different capitalisation rules to English. Your trendy lower case headings on pack, may look great in English, but horrid in German! Would you know?

Issues when translating food labels

It can be difficult enough to spot errors in your own language. However, it is really easy for you to miss things like accent errors. Special characters can also cause problems. Have you noticed the “ñ” in Spanish? ñ is not an “n” with a squiggle. It is actually an additional letter in the Spanish alphabet. A single letter can make a big difference. “12 años” means 12 years old. Whereas “12 anos” means 12 anuses. Oops, don’t print that on 12,000 products.

We even have experience of the wrong language appearing within a block of text. If the two languages were English and Chinese, then anyone would spot the error. However, would you recognise the difference between Czech and Slovak? They are very similar Slavic languages.

For this reason we offer an artwork proofing service. This is where the original translators check the final artwork against their original translation. This is an additional translation review, but mainly a check against artwork errors.

Food label law

Food label law varies from country to country. We have access to legal specialists. Contact us if you need this kind of service. Even localising labels between the UK and US markets is not straightforward. This is because the FDA have quite different requirements than the European Union.

Next steps

This is an introduction to a complex topic. You can find more information on our food label translation page. We also have pages about packaging translation, as well as translation and branding.

Contact us in order to discuss any aspect of food labelling translation.