Managing Obsolete Food Labels

What is an obsolete food label?

An obsolete food label is a label that has been discontinued or replaced by a newer version. This can be for many different reasons, but the most common reasons are because of changes in regulations, to keep up with product information such as ingredients, nutrient claims and nutritional facts table and food branding.

I have an obsolete food label. What should I do about it?

Many people keep obsolete food labels, in case they need to use them. This is a practice that you want to avoid. Let me explain why. Obsolete food labels are inaccurate. These labels may be misrepresenting your products and brands, misleading the consumers and not meeting regulatory requirements. In shorter words, damage your food brand and may get you in trouble.

Managing Obsolete Food Labels

Here are the best practices when handling food labels.
  • Add a version number to your food label print.
    • Food labels can look the same. Not having a version number can be confusing and your staff needs to take additional time to review the labels.
  • Discard and destroy them.
    • There are two reasons why you should immediately discard and destroy them.
      • Prevent an error in labelling
      • Prevent misuse
    • If you aren’t able to do this immediately, remember to “hold” the labels to prevent misuse.

What about inaccurate food labels with food products?

We recommend damaging the food labels before discarding the food product. That way, no one else can pick it up from the trash and sell the product as your food product. Remember, you discard these products for a reason and you don’t want anyone to have your products and sell unacceptable products, that you might be liable for.

SQF Edition 9 has a new requirement to ensure the right food labels are applied and approved. What should I do?

Review the procedures for the following SQF code requirements: Finished product labels shall be accurate, comply with the relevant legislation, and be approved by qualified company personnel. Product start-up, product changeover, and packaging changeover (including label changes) procedures shall be documented and implemented to ensure that the correct product is in the correct package and with the correct label and the changeover is inspected and approved by an authorized person. Procedures shall be implemented to ensure that label use is reconciled and any inconsistencies investigated and resolved. Product changeover and label reconciliation records shall be maintained. The site shall document and implement methods to control the accuracy of finished product labels (or consumer information where applicable) and assure work-in-progress and finished products are true to label with regard to allergens. Measures may include label approvals at the receipt, label reconciliations during production, destruction of obsolete labels, verification of labels on the finished product as appropriate, and product change over procedures. You can add the strategies that we have specified above for managing obsolete food labels. If you need the procedures and forms for managing the obsolete labels, grab a copy of our SQF 9.0 Procedures and Forms bundle. We hope this short article helps you manage your obsolete food labels and ensure that correct labels are applied to your food products, to prevent food recall and mislabelling. Previously published at
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