Timely Training from the Grocery Manufacturers Association — 

Labeling accuracy is an area that is key to achieving consumer safety and helping companies avoid costly recalls. But getting the right information and product claims on pack in compliance with government regulations is an increasingly complex process with many nuances. And the stakes are about to get much higher with the approach of the new FDA Nutrition Label requirements.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) has historically provided training for those involved in the labeling process. This year it will hold a two-and-a-half-day program, Food Labeling Workshop: Complying with Regulatory Requirements for the Labeling of Packaged Foods, from September 15 to 17 in Washington, DC, near its headquarters.

GMA logo
The Grocery Manufacturers Association will host a training focused on the FDA nutrition label in September.

A significant part of the GMA’smission is to help assure the safety and quality of our food supply. For its members, it develops programs that educate CPG organizations on best practices that create industry efficiencies and support quality standards. The labeling workshop is is just one example of the association’s education programs.

The workshop is designed for both novice and veteran CPG professionals with the responsiblility of developing and/or reviewing compliant labels. The reality is that many employees assigned to packaging and labeling roles learn on the job, a situation that can sometimes lead to inefficiencies and costly errors. Even those who have been in packaging for years need to keep up with evolving nutrition science as well as regulatory requirements.

For anyone reading this who is unaware or who simply hasn’t inventoried in a while all the knowledge required for packaging and labeling accuracy and production, just scroll the workshop program and click the Registration link and soon you’ll be booking your tickets to DC. The workshop is open to members and non-members. Members receive a special discount registration fee.

This year’s workshop has been restructured to assure that participants leave with knowledge and skills that they can put to immediate use. To gain insights about the new structure for Chief Packaging Officer readers, we spoke with Kimberly Wingfield, Director, Science Policy, Labeling and Standards for the GMA. Kimberly is also a presenter for Chief Packaging Officer’s July 30th webinar on preparing for the FDA relabeling. (Link to the blog post or registration page)

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Kimberly said that the workshop was restructured to make it easier for participants to effectively take in and apply the enormous amount of information presented. GMA has tied the curriculum to the product development process so that participants become aware of each step where packaging and labeling issues can and should be addressed.

This is critical education, as packaging and labeling has so many touchpoints in the process: R&D, Regulatory/Compliance, Product Development, Branding/Marketing. We found it interesting that the new structure will help participants better understand where they fit in the process so that they can perform more effectively and improve the labeling process. For example, they may find that they have more impact if they engage earlier.

Additionally, the workshop will be very interactive. There will be exercises and team challenges. Participants will have the hands-on experience of actually producing a label for a product. They’ll also gain understanding from industry case studies. All of these elements not only make for a more interesting and engaging two-and-a-half days, but also allow attendees to apply the concepts they learn immediately on their return to the office, certainly an excellent return on the training investment.

As we do here at Chief Packaging Officer, GMA recognizes that the strategic approach to packaging and labeling merits c-level discussion and attention. Kimberly said that, as much as possible, GMA highlights packaging and labeling as a cross-functional process. With so many regulatory and ongoing product formulation changes, she said, it almost has to be a company strategy in order to avoid the pitfalls.

In our estimation, improving packaging and labeling via a well-trained and knowledgeable team goes beyond training ROI and has wider, positive business implications for companies that take advantage of GMA’s high quality training programs. If you and your team haven’t registered yet, here’s another opportunity. If you can’t make it this time, GMA is planning future workshops and webinars through 2016. Not a member yet? It’s worth exploring the many benefits of joining forces with GMA.

If you have questions or would like to share your thoughts on training labeling teams, please do so in the comments section.

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