Food Translation And Compliance

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Are you a food retailer or manufacturer starting to export to different world markets? Correct food translation and compliance are key elements to successful packaging. If you get either wrong, you can have big problems. Re-stickering is usually expensive and time consuming.

So how do food translation and compliance sit together?

Much of our work is translation from UK English or US English to a range of target languages. If you have a UK product which is already compliant for the UK market, this is a good start for EU translations. If however your existing product is US, then there is an important additional step. FDA and EU regulations vary in important respects, so before thinking about translation, you should consider compliance.

The same is true in reverse. If you have a UK product, and want to sell in the US, Mexico or Canada, you are likely to have to make important compliance changes.

Translation first, or compliance first?

In theory you can work either way round. Many companies like to have a compliance check at the end of the process in case they have missed anything. However, the issue here for translation, is that if the compliance team want changed wording, you will need additional translations. Rounds or amends always add time and cost, so if you start with compliant pack copy, it will simplify the process.

Who does the compliance?

I want to be clear. We are a translation company. As with anyone who works with the food industry, we can spot some potential legal issues, but we are not compliance experts. If you ask us to prepare a compliance report, we don’t do this ourselves, we work with compliance partners, who specialise in this type of work. If you don’t undertake compliance, either using your own experts, or commissioning a compliance report from us, this is at your legal risk.

How we work

When we work on your food translation, there are key things that we do. Firstly we will use our reasonable endeavours to ensure that we use correct terminology. This is always reliant on your source document. Imagine you have allergy advice which states “may contain nuts” – if we translated it as “does not contain nuts” – this would be a serious translation error, and would also give you a compliance problem. However, imagine the reverse, suppose your source text states something like “does not contain nuts”. When we translate, we reflect the source text, we may not spot your error. If there are nuts in the ingredients list, we may spot the mistake, but supplying the correct source text is your responsibility.

Errors and omissions

Errors or omissions in the source text are your responsibility. If you need extra text once we have finished work, it will cost you extra. So take care to include everything. Things like a produced and packed statement, or COO, best before or use by are easily missed – but important.

Declarations and claims

We don’t see or test your product. This means that you are responsible for any claims you make on pack. If you state that your product is organic, or 100% beef, you need to be able to substantiate your claim. If you miss or wrongly state an ingredient we probably won’t know.

This is a brief introduction to a complex subject, you can read more on our food label translation page. You can also call us on +44 115 9788980 or use our contact form to discuss your requirements.