Finding Hidden Allergens and Ingredients, Featuring Gartner Insight

| Product Lifecycle Management | Food & Beverage
Posted By: Michelle Duerst


Finding Hidden Allergens and Ingredients in Your Formulas


Ensuring data accuracy is one of the greatest risks in compliant labeling.  This happens when you do not have an elevated level of visibility throughout development and validation. 

Streamlining Processes

Gartner states, “Historically, manufacturers designed packaging, artwork and labeling independently from developing new products. Now they seek work that is concurrent with product development. As ingredients change, manufacturers seek more streamlined updates to nutrition claims, advertising, ingredients labeling and so on.”[1]

Not only must manufacturers carefully track changes to formulations, but examine the ingredients in all of their formulations for hidden allergens and non-compliance issues.  The two most vulnerable areas for inclusive analysis are bought ingredients and proprietary formulas. 

Ensuring Safety

“Glutino and Udi’s products currently contain less than 10 parts per million of gluten, which is well below the guidelines announced by the FDA,” said Steve Hughes, Chairman and CEO of Boulder Brands.  “Although this standardization brings no changes to the way our brands make their products, it does validate our commitment to provide consumers with safe, gluten-free options that they can trust.”[2]

Analyze Bought Ingredients

It is no surprise that formulated product manufacturers use “bought” ingredients.  The issue arises when R&D does not have the clear visibility to all aspects of the bought ingredients and how they will impact the original product requirements and final compliance validation.

Steps to Manage Bought Ingredients:

  1. Vendors should have an easy interface that will allow them to upload files, update delivery information, and provide material attributes in configurable forms. 
  2. After they update their information, there must be a checkpoint for a designated team member to review and approve the data before it is integrated with your PLM database.  
  3. Once approved, your vendor data should be synced with the central database, making it instantly visible to all authorized team members.


Read more: 


Analyze Proprietary Formulas

These formulas are typically not visible to all team members, but a select few.  For the sake of this example, we’ll call the proprietary formula “Formula X.” A team member may be assigned to create a new product using “Formula X” but cannot go in and see what the specific ingredients (or ingredient levels) are.  This is set up using granular security that can unlock a feature, but still protect the specific formulations.


Better Visibility:  Linear Explosion

“We hadn’t been using a NPDI system. Formulas were being managed independently in Excel sheets. The biggest improvement was tracking work and having easy access to formulas in an organized way across all members of the PD team.”[3]


This next step requires a PLM solution and cannot be done in a typical spreadsheet.

The bought ingredients may be visible to a team member, but both issues can be resolved with a linear explosion. The PLM solution should be able to explode the compliance analysis of a formula to view the final components of a formulation.


This will become especially important with new labeling requirements become law and companies must reconfigure serving sizes and actual sugar content (not just added).




Solve Issues with Allergen Management/Nutritional Claims Non-Compliance 

Compliance issues including allergen disclosure can severely impact several factors of a product’s success, these include, but are not limited to:

  • Timeline
  • Cost
  • Recall
  • Fines
  • Customer loyalty


These can be mitigated with greater visibility during the R&D process to see if an added ingredient creates issues. Ex:  Individually, the formula’s ingredients are below the defined threshold for a product, but cumulatively they exceed the limit.


Steps for Easier Validation

  • Visibility to product requirements
  • Selection of required certification, claims, and allergen exclusions
  • Regulatory analysis of formulations
  • Instant notifications of possible violations


Read more: 


[1] Source:  Gartner, Hype Cycle for Process Manufacturing and PLM 2013 by Lief Eriksen, Simon F Jacobson, Janet Suleski and Marc Halpern, July 2013  

[2] Source:

[3] Source: TechValidate. TVID: 8F3-60B-988