How Testing Can Help You Stay Ahead of Supply Chain Challenges
Visit any grocery store and it’s apparent that supply chain issues are impacting food availability. As resources dwindle, food manufacturers are ramping up efforts to find alternative means to make their products.
Any time formulations or ingredients change, shelf life, nutritional labels, product claims, and other attributes will likely need updating. To help you stay ahead of this increased demand for food testing, Medallion Labs wants to share topics you need to be aware of, including:
- Which ingredients have been the most impacted
- The most popular food testing requests right now
- How manufacturers are addressing ingredient/formulation challenges
- How supply issues might affect our ability to test or provide mock nutritional labels
- Tips for streamlining your Medallion Labs food testing experience
Which Ingredients Are Impacted?
Very few food items are immune to the supply crunch. However, some ingredients are scarcer than others. Our customers are commonly facing shortages of soy, protein, and fiber ingredients. These shortages seem to be occurring due to a combination of factors, many of which are brought on by the pandemic. Some of those issues have little to do with the food items themselves and more to do with a lack of transportation, packaging, or labor for the multiple steps involved between producers and manufacturers.
To address these challenges, food producers are relying on old techniques and finding some new solutions. Among the most common fixes is switching out the type of oil being used in a food product. Switching ingredients is a very common strategy that has been employed long before the pandemic. An example of this is a manufacturer switching to soybean or canola oil instead of corn oil. The net impact of this kind of change is often negligible.
In many cases, switching one ingredient for another has minimal impact on the product. However, there are instances where a seemingly minor ingredient change can become unexpectedly significant. Swapping out dried cranberries for raisins may seem like a balanced exchange. In reality, the product’s overall sugar, fiber, protein, calories, calcium, iron, potassium and other aspects can be impacted by such a change. These possibilities would alter nutritional label information and, potentially, product claims.
What Needs to Be Done When Ingredients Change?
Whenever a customer is in doubt about their food product attributes, we recommend they get updated and accurate data. The best way to handle an ingredient change is to provide a sample of the current ingredient and the new ingredient. Medallion Labs will test both samples to identify any significant differences between ingredient composition. The customer will also need to let us know if they are looking to use specific testing methods to match vendor specs.
The Current Go-to Tests
The supply chain challenges have created an increased demand for food testing as producers scramble to adapt. In particular, Medallion Labs is seeing an uptick in requests for quick turnaround times for these tests and:
- Fat by Gas Chromatography to ensure total-, saturated- and trans-fat numbers are still inline
- Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Iron (Metals Screen I)
- Calories (requires protein, moisture, fat, and ash testing)
We are also seeing increasing inquiries regarding shelf-life testing, especially when our customers need to swap out ingredients that are important to the product’s overall stability.
Is Medallion Labs Testing Being Affected?
Medallion Labs is occasionally confronted with supply chain troubles of our own. Thus far, these challenges have been intermittent and related to sourcing reagents and consumables. In order to provide clients with uninterrupted service, we may at times need to adjust testing options, including the utilization of third-party labs for testing. The tech data sheets on our website are the best resource for determining service delays. We are committed to keeping the information on our website current and up to date.
Are Mock Nutritional Labels Being Delayed?
Mock nutritional labels are not being delayed. Our process time remains the same, with mock nutritional labels being made available one (1) business day after the final report is received.
Some customers have asked if we can mix and match results from different products to create a new mock label, however, this is not a service that Medallion Labs offers. For example, if a client performed a full nutrition panel in 2019 and wants to update the sodium results in 2021, we cannot pull up the previous label and change only the sodium value for the mock label. In this situation, it is best for the customer to work with their packaging designer/printer to update that specific line item on the label.
How Can Customers Work Better with Medallion Labs?
First, we suggest that customers turn to our website and visit it often for the most up-to-date information. Many customers don’t realize that a range of topics such as certification and (fill in the blank) are covered online. Consulting our website can answer many questions quickly and avoid the need to contact us and wait for a response as time is often of the essence when it comes to testing.
On the website, customers will also find current and accurate information about:
- Rush testing options
- Service delays
Speed is becoming an increasingly important factor for our customers. One tip for getting the fastest food testing results possible is to use our online submission form. Using it will accelerate our processing and log-in by our lab.
It is also important to note what testing Medallion Labs does not perform. We are exclusively a food lab. Non-food-related samples are outside our scope. Additionally, Medallion Labs is not involved in the regulatory portion of testing. Should you need help in that area, please work with a labeling consultant or your quality team.
Lastly, we always recommend visiting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's food testing page.
Your Reliable Partner for Food Testing
Global supply chain challenges will likely continue well into 2022. No one is quite sure about when they will ease. But we can be confident about providing safe, reliable, and accurate food testing to our customers.
When considering Medallion Labs for shelf-life testing or other lab services, we suggest referring to our tech data sheets and online order form for the latest details. Our breadth of testing options helps you maximize your testing budget by providing the results you seek in a cost-efficient manner.
Medallion Labs is ready to use our testing options, expertise, and skills to meet your testing needs. Connect with us or call 1-800-245-5615 to discuss the criteria and testing needs for your food products.