About Us

Label Directions

The Challenge

In today’s competitive marketplace, food manufacturers and restaurateurs are looking for compelling ways to communicate what makes their products distinctive and desirable. They can find themselves with questions and concerns regarding what can and can’t be said about a food, given increased scrutiny from consumer advocates, bloggers, litigators and others.

Consumers and shoppers hear about foods through advertising, websites, social media, in-store messaging and even the news. While not everyone sees these messages, there is one piece of communication that most do see: the food label, with over 75% of people looking at the food label at least sometimes, and 50% looking it most of the time or always[1].

[1] 2014 FDA Health and Diet Survey, May 2016

The Opportunity

With more people wanting to know about ingredients and nutrition, the importance of food labels and menus is increasing, yet can be overlooked. Compliance is essential, but is table stakes. Competitive advantage can be gained by leveraging labels, menus and food communications as marketing assets, developing labels that work harder for a brand in telling the food story and engaging target consumers. Taking a creative and strategic approach to food communications through “consumer-centric compliance” can be an important aspect of winning in today’s competitive marketplace.

Given the complexity of the regulations, including implementation of the new food labels, and the external scrutiny, finding an expert partner who can help guide companies and restaurants to harder-working labels and messaging that help tell the story and engage consumers can provide advantage for food manufacturers and restaurateurs.

Our Mission

Assist food companies and restaurants in creating food labeling (product label, website details, social media and marketing) information that effectively differentiates products and helps tell the story of the food in ways that are compelling to the target consumer, through nutrition, clean labeling, taste or other desired characteristics.

Label Directions will help the food and foodservice industries comply with all federal and state regulations, while finding prospects to favorably communicate the positive attributes of food products in a way that engages target consumers and helps tell the food story. Label Directions will help identify potential risks and opportunities in communicating key messages about food products, while also providing insight into relevant potential future trends and development.

This is a Labor (-er Label) of Love for us.

Talking about food is what we do. Helping you talk about food is what we love. Today’s regulatory and legal systems continue to throw new challenges our way; but with thorough knowledge of the regulations, a strong relationship with the government agency decision makers and the experience to properly assess opportunities and risks, including legal, we can make your labels speak. With over 25 years experience, it is not just what we do, it is what we love.

Meet our Team

Beth Johnson, MS, RD, LD
Food Policy + Regulatory Expert

Elizabeth (Beth) Johnson’s, MS, RD, unique experience and skill set helps Label Directions clients gain valuable insight into the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Capitol Hill. Johnson also has strong relationships with thought leaders at NGOs, food associations, and consumer groups, which help Label Directions gain a diverse perspective on food and labeling issues.

In addition to her work with Label Directions, Johnson is the CEO and founder of the boutique government relations firm Food Directions.

Johnson’s food policy experience spans across government, trade associations and public relations. Government experience includes Acting Undersecretary for Food Safety at USDA, where she oversaw the work of the Agency on food safety and labeling; Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Agriculture; Senior Professional Staff for the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee and nutritionist and research dietitian at FDA and USDA.  Johnson has also held positions in the private sector including Executive Vice President for Public Affairs for the National Restaurant Association, Vice President at Fleishman Hillard, Inc public relations and Associate Director of Food Policy at the National Cattlemen’s Association.

Johnson is a member of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), serves on the National Food Policy Conference Advisory Committee, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) host committee, and on Dunkin Brands’ Nutrition Advisory Board and is a Food Cowboy Advisor.  Johnson is regularly quoted in media outlets.

Johnson holds a BS in Dietetics from Ball State University and an MS in Nutrition from the University of Maryland. Johnson lives in Maryland with her husband Bill and daughters Hanah and Sara.

Brent Baglien, JD
Legal Counsel + Policy Advisor

Brent Baglien, JD, brings his decades of experience as a food and agricultural policy advisor and legal counselor to Label Directions.

In addition to his work with Label Directions, he is currently President of BB Strategies, a firm focused on the regulatory issues confronting the food and agricultural sector.

Prior to his current engagement, Brent was the VP for Government Affairs for ConAgra Foods, Inc., managing the governmental issues confronting a Fortune 200 agricultural and food manufacturing company, and before that was Chief GOP Counsel to the Senate Agriculture Committee.   Baglien has served on numerous Boards and Committees involving food and agriculture including the National Association of Manufacturers, the Snack Foods Association, and the National Council for Food and Agricultural Policy.

He is a avid college hockey fan and has recently ended paying for college tuition for his three terrific girls.  Baglien lives in Maryland.

Karen Ridley, PhD, MBA, RDN
Nutrition Marketing + Communications

Karen Ridley, PhD, MBA, RDN brings expertise in nutrition and marketing to Label Directions. Often combining her expertise with a focus on nutrition communications that connect with consumers and shoppers.

In addition to her work with Label Directions, she is the Founder of Added Dimension.  Ridley has a combination of industry and agency experience, with both nutrition / health & wellness and marketing experience at Kellogg Company, where she was Vice President of Nutrition for Kellogg North America, and The Coca-Cola Company.  Ridley also has extensive agency strategic planning experience.

Ridley has a PhD in Foods and Nutrition and an MBA with a marketing concentration from Virginia Tech, a BS in nutritional sciences from Cornell, and is also a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.

Ridley lives in Michigan.

Maggie Gentile, MS, RD, LD
Food Policy + Public Relations

Maggie Gentile, MS, RD, LD, brings nearly a decade of food industry policy and public relations expertise to Label Directions.

In addition to her work at Label Directions Maggie is the VP of Food Policy at Food Directions. Gentile manages day to day client needs, executes client projects, participates in food industry coalitions, and monitors all activities in the food space. Additionally, Gentile has vast agency and trade association experience holding roles at Edelman, the National Restaurant Association, and GolinHarris.

Gentile is a member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics and the Institute of Food Technologists. From 2012-2015 Gentile has served as the Public Policy Coordinator for the D.C. Metro Area Dietetic Association (DCMADA) and participates as an Advisory Council member for Common Threads.

Gentile holds a BS in health and sports studies at Miami University (Ohio) and earned a MS in the Dietetic program at Loyola University Chicago. Gentile lives in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C with her husband.

Lindsay Yarabek, MS, RD, ATC
Food Policy + Scientific Affairs

Registered Dietitian and Certified Athletic Trainer, Lindsay Yarabek brings food policy and scientific expertise to Label Directions.

In addition to work at Label Directions, Lindsay is Senior Director of Food Policy and Scientific Affairs at Food Directions.  Prior to this role she spent time gaining valuable nutrition policy experience working for two offices within the Department of Health and Human Services: 1) on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans within the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) and 2) developing nutrition and health promotion communications strategies with The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (PCFSN). In addition to HHS, Yarabek expanded upon academic experiences teaching two courses as adjunct professor within the Marymount University Malek School of Health Professions.

Yarabek is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), serving on the board of AND’s DC section from 2013-2016, the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), serving on the board of IFT’s DC Section as Member at Large (2016-2018), and the American Society for Nutrition (ASN). She completed her BS degree in Sports Medicine at the University of South Florida and her MS degree in Nutrition at Drexel University.

She currently resides in the Rosslyn neighborhood of Northern Virginia.

Emily Roberts
Fellow

Emily Roberts is a Fellow at Label Directions.

In addition to her work at Label Directions, Emily is serves as Food Policy & Scientific Affairs Fellow at Food Directions where she currently manages client needs and monitoring science and policy issues in Washington D.C.

She is also researching and applying to various Master and PhD programs in Nutritional Biology and Nutritional Epidemiology.  She has spent the previous year teaching English in southern France and blogging for American Society for Nutrition. Emily holds a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences and a Minor in French & Francophone studies from Penn State.

Emily lives in Maryland.

We help major industry leaders

A little more about us...

We are the complete package.

  • Technical Expertise in Nutrition + Law- RDs, PhD, + JD
  • Strong Relationships within Federal Agencies
  • Robust Food Industry Experience
  • Creative, Innovative Marketing Minds