How can I source support on nutritional analysis?

Do you need to produce nutrition declarations for your food labels? Or calorie labelling for your menus? Or have you been asked to assess whether your products or recipes are classified as HFSS (high in fat, salt or sugar)?  Do you need some support to achieve this?

Many food businesses are now finding that they need to produce nutrition information for their products or dishes.  This nutrition information can be derived from chemical analysis in a laboratory or values can be calculated, often with the help of nutritional analysis software.

But producing nutrient values that will stand up to scrutiny is not as easy as it first appears. It can be challenging to ensure that appropriate nutrient values for ingredients are used and that changes during preparation and cooking or processing are taken into account.

Perhaps you don’t have in-house nutrition expertise or sufficient resources to undertake your own calculations.  Or maybe you would like some guidance or auditing to ensure that the values produced within your company are robust and will not mislead customers.  This support is probably not as costly as you might expect and will give you increased confidence in the information that you are providing.

Fortunately, there are many food and nutrition professionals available to support you, often working as freelancers.  You should be able to identify potential professionals via your food business networks, LinkedIn, or simply via an internet search.  But what should you consider when outsourcing nutritional analysis calculations?

  • Qualified nutrition professionals will use the titles of Registered Nutritionist (RNutr or ANutr) or Registered Dietitian (RD). You can check registration credentials at: Home – Association for Nutrition for Registered Nutritionists and at: Check the Register and find a registered health and care professional | (hcpc-uk.org) for Registered Dietitians.
  • Ask whether they have undertaken training in recipe analysis. For example, many nutrition professionals attend my Recipe Analysis: Maximising Accuracy course.
  • Ask for examples of their experience in food composition and recipe analysis (but do remember that many projects are confidential and subject to NDAs).
  • (If they have limited experience, remember that we all have to start somewhere! But check that they have access to a more experienced professional to support them.)
  • Request a template of the format in which nutrition information will be provided, in order to check that it meets your requirements. (I recently saw some nutrition information that had been submitted to a food business that made no sense to me or to the customer!)
  • Be specific regarding the scope of work. For example, do you just need nutrition information, or would you also like ingredient and allergen declarations to be provided too? Are you likely to need recalculations in the future (e.g. due to recipe or ingredient changes)?
  • Don’t leave it until the last minute! Allow sufficient time for queries and sourcing information from suppliers, and remember that many freelancers will be juggling multiple projects.
  • Be realistic on fees, remembering that very low quotes may not translate into high quality outputs. Fees per product or recipe enable you to determine the overall cost more easily.  If a daily rate is provided, check how many recipes would be completed within a day.
  • Expect lots of questions! To ensure that the outputs are as accurate as possible, you will (or should) be asked lots of detailed questions about your ingredients, your recipes (especially weights) and your processes.

And, of course, in addition to considering the above factors, you will want to choose someone who you feel that you would work well with.  So it can be beneficial to have a conversation with potential freelancers, both to learn more about their experience and to find a good fit for your project and your business.

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