Foodservice GS1 US Update: November/December 2012

Posted by IFMA November 29, 2012

Tagged in GS1

IFDA & IFMA publish this bi-monthly newsletter to keep our members informed about this important industry initiative.
             
Clearing up Label Confusion: What You Need to Know about Nutritional Claims
Whether based on FDA and USDA regulations or not, the nutritional claims foodservice companies make about their products can be confusing to consumers and foodservice operators, writes Deanne Brandstetter, vice president of nutrition and wellness for Compass Group North America, in a post at SmartBlog on Food & Beverage.
             
The Compass Group and some 30 other industry-leading companies have worked-as members of the Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative's Nutritional Attribute Requirements Task Group-to resolve the confusion these claims and labels cause in the marketplace, states Brandstetter.
             
"Our main work involves assisting in the development of an online database for nutritional, allergen and other foodservice product information that restaurants and other foodservice operators-as well as dietitians, nutritionists, purchasers and foodservice managers-can use to research products, develop their menus, and determine the nutritional and allergen content of their food. In GS1 Standards terms, we call this database the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN)," states Brandstetter.
             
Dealing with claims becomes even more of a challenge when you're determining how best to upload and enter data in a digital, online format. For example, asks Brandstetter, what type of standardized field do you create for the many ways to say "may contain tree nuts" or "processed in a facility that manufactures products with nuts," or "processed on equipment that processes nuts?" Denoting an organic product is not as simple as checking off a "yes" or "no" box, says Brandstetter.
             
Brandstetter's full post includes discussion of gluten-free, organic, and all-natural product claims, as well as allergen information and genetically engineered ingredients. To access her blog post, click here http://smartblogs.com/food-and-beverage/2012/11/08/clearing-up-label-confusion-what-you-need-to-know-about-nutritional-claims/. For more on this subject, see article below: Compass Group and US Foods Discuss How Standards Help Build a Centralized Nutritional Database.

Kellogg, Dot Foods, Glazier Foods, and Golbon Discuss Rollout of GS1 US Standards

At a session held at the 2012 Distribution Solutions Conference, representatives from Kellogg, Dot, Glazier, and Golbon walked attendees through the challenges and successes that they have experienced in implementing GS1 standards. Two presentations are highlighted here.

Specifically Rich Barasso, business development manager at Kellogg, shared how his company overcame challenges in publishing phase two product information such as allergens, marketing, nutritionals, and images. The hurdles, said Barasso, included the fact that data was maintained at various locations and Enterprise IT upgrades were in progress. Further, there was recognition that customers would desire information not yet maintained in the company's Enterprise IT systems.
           
Kellogg's solution started by forming a cross-functional internal team to address these issues, but also included challenging their data pool to identify options and eventually selecting a third party  provider to ensure all of Kellogg's phase two data was accurate and in the right location.           
           
A second presentation by Debbie Bower, e-commerce manager at Dot Foods, discussed how her company prepared for the GS1 process. That included outlining how the standards would positively impact already identified data problems such as inaccurate case dimensions & weights and inaccurate TI/HI. In itself, this promised to significantly improve internal efficiencies. Bower also shared Dot's progress on data sync, which includes 47,000 items from 300 suppliers already sync'd in their system, and discussed how Dot Foods is using phase two data in Dot Expressway (see image above), their customer interface, to provide product images, and information on nutritionals and ingredients, allergens and diet, and features and benefits. To access a PDF of the session presentations, click here http://www.ifdaonline.org/dsc12_presentations/DSC12_T105_gs1.pdf.
           
Standards Initiative Update at IFMA/IFDA Presidents Conference
Dennis Harrison, SVP at GS1 US, provided industry leaders with an update on the Standards Initiative during a breakfast session at the IFMA/IFDA Presidents Conference 2012, November 4-7 at The Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, AZ. Harrison provided an overview of the initiative, reviewed some of the major milestones accomplished in 2012, and discussed next steps. Merissa Hamilton, supplier information and ecommerce manager at Food Services of America then provided an overview of the S.C.O.R.E. Data Integrity Initiative, and details of a pilot test that is being conducted to better understand best practices surrounding data integrity. Attendees had the opportunity to ask questions during the closing minutes of the session. For more information on the Presidents Conference, including highlights from the presenters and panels, visit ifmaworld.com.
            
Compass Group and US Foods Discuss How Standards Help Build  a Centralized Nutrition Database
In a recent article, Deanne Brandstetter of the Compass Group and Jason Gunn of US Foods discussed how nutritional information in Foodservice GS1 US Standards will improve efforts of nutritionists and dieticians in schools, hospitals, senior living, and other institutional settings. (Excerpts below are from the full article in the October 2012 issue of Nutrition & Foodservice Edge magazine, published by the Association of Nutrition & Foodservice Professionals.)
           
By 2015, members of the Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative would like to see the majority of foodservice manufacturers affix GS1 barcodes to all their product cartons. Once in place, distributors and operators will be able to call up enhanced information about any products compliant with the standards including production and expiration dates, manufacturer lot numbers, and nutritional information.
           
The enhanced nutritional information will include a more detailed list of ingredients, calories and fat grams, gluten-free, tree nut and other allergen call-outs, and organic/Kosher designations if any. Operators and distributors will also be able to access standardized images of the food product, both in its container and after preparation in the kitchen. That information is aggregated in the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN).
           
Just this summer, GS1 US and members of the initiative's Nutritional Attribute Requirements Task Force released the official guideline for product attributes to be listed in the GDSN to ensure that operators access the most appropriate and accurate information possible. (An update was made available in October. See article below.)
           
The biggest concern of the Task Force, says Deanne Brandstetter, vice president  of nutrition and wellness for Compass Group North America, is that the nutritional and product information available on the GDSN meets the needs of various types of businesses. "Certain chain restaurants need to meet certain nutrition labeling requirements, but people working in school lunch have to meet a completely different set of criteria," she says. "Hospitals and senior living have even more nutrients because they have to meet all the DRIs (Dietary Reference Intakes) over a period of time. That could be a total of 30 or so nutrients if you roll everything together."
           
On the distributor side, "nutritional information by far has been the most requested information by our operator customers," says Jason Gunn, supplier development specialist for US Foods. "Allergens and claims, marketing information, and images are all a close second." By "claims," Gunn is referring to statements that a product is organic or Kosher, for example.
           
"Data synchronization and the GDSN has helped make our product information better than it has ever been," said Gunn. "Very soon, we will be able to provide all nutritional information, including allergens and claims where available, through the GDSN for any US Foods-labeled item, as well as for all other manufacturer branded items as the information is published to us through the GDSN. However, more consistent updating of information by suppliers will improve this further."
           
For Brandstetter, automatic, 24/7 updating is crucial. "It makes it easier for us as recipe developers and menu developers because if we're using a certain marinara sauce and the manufacturer changes the formulation so it has less sugar, because its linked to a single GTIN (GS1 product identification number) and linked to our system, we can follow that product to all of our recipes and it will change the nutritional information for it instead of manually looking at 1,000 recipes and identifying which ones contain marinara," she says. "That might impact how much insulin a diabetic patient now needs." When it comes to allergens, and particularly in school foodservice, this accurate information becomes even more crucial.
 

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