All countries have requirements regarding information that is printed on food packaging labels. Usually a label has to convey the following: name of the product, the manufacturer’s name and address, net weight, serving size, list of ingredients and nutrition information per serving.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration requires the following data to be clearly stated on a packaged food label:
- Name of the product
- The manufacturer’s or distributor’s name and address
- The weight of the product
- Ingredients (listed according to amount, from highest to lowest)
- Number of servings per product, and serving size
- Total fat, cholesterol, sodium, protein, carbohydrates)
- Vitamins and minerals (vitamin D, potassium, iron and calcium)
- Any artificial flavor or preservative added
- “Best before” date indication
The list of ingredients has to include any allergy-causing food. Eight most common food allergens are: peanuts, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, eggs and milk, and their presence in a food product has to be made known.
Your label also needs to include a barcode.
FDA and USDA: The Main Labeling Regulatory Bodies in the US
The FDA regulates labeling for most packaged food products, but meat, poultry and some other products containing meat are regulated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Those products need to include additional information, such as:
- Inspection legend
- Signature line
- Safe handling instructions
The Food and Drug Administration also oversees the use of specific claims regarding some other, mostly health, information. Claims such as “100% organic,” “fat free”, “low calorie” etc. have to follow standard definitions by the FDA, USDA or meet strict criteria of regulatory bodies that issue labels with certain claims.
For example, if you want to label your product with information about organic ingredients, you have to follow strict guidelines by the US Department of Agriculture. If you want to show consumers that your product is “low calorie”, one serving cannot contain more than 40 calories. There are countless rules for proper labeling. For a complete guide on food label info requirements, it is best to check the FDA and USDA websites.
It’s very important to label your product right. It is the key to avoiding legal issues and creating a trusting bond with your customers.