26 Jan How to create the perfect technical data sheet for the food sector
Creating technical data sheets for food products is an essential process in the food industry. Technical data sheets are documents detailing all the information about a food: from the ingredients to legal issues. Besides being an absolute requirement in order to market any type of food item, technical data sheets for food must provide extremely precise information. And it’s not always easy. In this post, we’ll explain how to create the perfect technical data sheet for the food sector step-by-step.
General product information
- The name of the product.
- The product code.
- The date the technical data sheet was created.
The starting point for any technical data sheet is the general product information. This part details basic aspects such as the name of the product, the unique product identifier code and the date the technical data sheet was created. These elements provide a quick reference and allow efficient product tracing over time.
And, although it may seem obvious, the document heading should also clearly reflect that it’s a technical data sheet. In other words, these three words must appear: technical data sheet. If possible, it should be in capital letters and in bold font. If you’d like to take your technical data sheet to the next level, remember to include the product brand logo.
On the other hand, always keep in mind that technical data sheets are “living” documents that can be modified. That’s why it’s important to mention the edition/version number of the technical data sheet, as well as the applicable laws or regulations and the names of the people who have created it and reviewed it.
- A detailed description of the product.
- Information on allergens.
A detailed description of the product is essential for understanding the composition, benefits and needs it fulfils. That’s why this section must include details on the ingredients and proportions. The allergens in the food and any other relevant food safety information must also be emphasized, such as microbiological specifications or whether there are any contraindications for certain population groups.
It is also important to indicate the product expiry date or service life, as well as the means of conservation and storage conditions (i.e., the temperature and humidity level), transport and distribution, as well as consumption.
- Calorie content.
- Servings per package.
The nutritional information section must offer a clear understanding of the product characteristics. This step involves several analyses, calculations and processes aimed at determining the nutritional information for a product.
The data include the calorie content, which must be indicated in kilojoules as well as in calories; and the quantities (in grams) of fat, carbohydrates, fibre, proteins and salt. As for the fat, the corresponding grams with saturated fatty acids must also be specified. Likewise, the quantity of sugar from carbohydrates must be indicated.
It must all be listed in relation to a particular quantity. All of this information is normally provided for 100 grams of the product. However, it can also be donewith respect to the quantity that corresponds to a serving of the product. In fact, this section must specify the quantity of one portion or serving and the servings in each package.
- A description of the manufacturing process.
- Quality controls and food safety.
The technical data sheet must provide a detailed view of the product manufacturing process: from choosing the raw materials to quality controls. This means including temperatures, times and any other factor that can guarantee proper functioning of the production process, as well as the quality of the end product. In fact, establishing quality parameters and indicating the tolerance thereof is recommended. These parameters depend on the type of product, but some valid examples may be the colour, smell, flavour and texture. Plus, it’s a good idea to establish parameters in relation to possible defects and do the same with the quality parameters.
- Type of packaging.
Another section that must be included on a technical data sheet is related to the packaging. Thus, it must specify all the information related to all types of packaging in which the product is marketed. Specifically, the packaging must be described and the weight must be indicated, along with the type. Likewise, the packaging volume must be indicated in millilitres, as well as the net and drained weight of the product in grams. The type of treatment the packaging has gone through to guarantee food safety must also be included.
- Name and address.
- Contact details.
Including the manufacturer’s information is essential. That’s why all technical data sheets must include the name of the company that manufactured the product, its address and the manufacturer’s contact details.
- Instructions for use.
- Additional declarations.
To create the perfect data sheet with all the necessary information for marketing and consumers, you must also pay attention to matters like the instructions for use and any certifications.
Inform consumers how to prepare or consume the product, if it’s ready for consumption or not, and what’s the best way to eat it. The technical data sheet may also include sections dedicated to specific certifications, such as quality or bio certificates.
You can also add any other declaration that may be relevant, such as ethical and sustainability aspects or other distinctive characteristics of the product or manufacturing process.
Preparing a technical data sheet for the food industry is a meticulous process covering several crucial aspects and each section plays a vital role in the creation of this complex document. Keeping all technical data sheets up-to-date is fundamental in compliance with the regulations in effect and any changes in the formulation or manufacturing process. This will guarantee transparency of the information provided in addition to the product safety and quality.