Food & Drink Translation Guidance

  • Most of our food translations are for product labelling, which must be compliant with EU FIR Legislation / GCC Legislation / Chinese Legislation etc – please follow the Term Base strictly and advise your Project Manager if you feel a given term is inappropriate. However please note that whether you agree with a term or not, if it is on the legislation it must be used, as governed by law.

  • Research the product / ask your Project Manager for reference material if this is not provided.

  • Please carefully check punctuation (you can use the 'Verify' option in Trados for this).

  • Please be consistent with the Translation Memory. If you want to suggest changes to previously delivered translation, please leave a comment in the file explaining why you believe this is a better option.

  • Please do not unlock and change locked segments. If you want to suggest a change to a locked segment, please include it in the delivery email.

  • Please make sure that the formatting tags in Trados are reflected in the target segment (i.e. the right word is put in bold, which sometimes requires moving the tags within the segment).

Translating Food Packaging: A Guide for Linguists

Top tips for working on food projects and information about in-house checks.

This guide has been created to help you when translating and proofreading text for food packaging. We hope that the checklist below and insight into what Project Managers check when the file is returned to them, will reduce the number of queries sent to you following your delivery. 

Linguist Checklist - when completing a food project, please ensure that the following are true before delivering your file:

  • All translations have been checked to ensure that there are no inaccuracies. Has ‘blueberry’ definitely been translated as ‘blueberry’ and not as ‘raspberry’ in error? This may seem basic, but these commonly catch people out. :-)

  • A ‘verify check’ in Trados has been run before creating return package. This identifies any inconsistencies/non-usage of TB terms/missing punctuation etc. Verify settings need to be correctly set and checked first – please find below a set of screenshots showing how to set the Verify function.

  • Terms present in the TB (extracted from legislation) have been used. If you believe a term cannot be used because it is not appropriate for the context in question or would lead to an unusual/incorrect translation, you have left a comment to explain your decision.

  • Terms in bold in the source are also in bold in your translation.

  • Terms in the singular/plural in the source are also in the singular/plural in your translation e.g. - If the source text says ‘raising agent’ please don’t translate as ‘raising agents’. We understand that sometime it is the industry standard to translate as singular or plural in a way that does not reflect the English (e.g. ‘egg’ will often be translated as ‘eggs’) - if this is the case you have left a comment to explain this.

  • All commas/full stops/semi-colons/brackets in the English source are reflected in the translation.

  • The number format for your country has been applied correctly (e.g. for some countries 1.5g should be localised to 1,5 g and 6% to 6 %).

  • The TM has been referenced and the same phrase/terminology is used for consistency with previous deliveries. If you have chosen to use a better/more appropriate translation, you have added a note to advise us of this.

  • You are happy that product names/ingredients have been correctly translated where the ingredient/product type may be unfamiliar to you. These are often mistranslated due to lack of research on the linguists’ side and differences in cultures. Examples of terms mistranslated in the past include:

    • mincemeat (which is a sweet cake filling as opposed to minced beef or pork for example).

    • wheat biscuits (this shows how important it is to make sure you understand context and have taken notice of any reference material/websites sent by the Project Manager as ‘wheat biscuits’ can also be a type of breakfast cereal not only a biscuit in the usual sense).

Project Manager Checklist – when completing an in-house review of your translations, Project Managers at Talking Heads do the following to check and ensure accuracy. Please also adopt these checks to reduce questions/queries following delivery:

  • Checking all of the above – if we need to make changes or have questions, this is when we contact you.

  • Checking Google Images search results. The product name in English when searched should display similar images to the product name when translated.

  • Where possible, finding the same product being sold in a target country (on a supermarket website for example) and seeing what terminology is already being used.

  • Checking the number of exact hits on Google. If there are two equally good ways of translating something, we’d like to proceed with the term/phrase that appears to be the industry standard/most commonly used. When we check exact hits we put the phrase/term into Google in quotation marks, i.e. “example phrase” and compare the results, wherever possible we apply the version that gives the most hits.

If you have any questions or suggestions of tricks that you use that we could add to this guide, please let us know!

To verify settings in Trados (click to enlarge):