When it comes to the production of food and importing them to the US, the job of the food manufacturers’ do not end with their final product. The food product needs to be labeled first. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is the federal agency which regulates the labeling of food, and often their confusing labeling regulations give sleepless nights to food producers. This can be attributed to mainly three reasons –
First, the fda.gov website does not include all the categories of food product, therefore, food manufacturers who produce the food which is not listed in the website needs to contact the website and wait for further instructions from the FDA or have their product included in a fresh category.
Second, the fda.gov website is so large that it takes considerable time to even get information regarding a particular product.
And third, sometimes the rules have a lot of exceptions, which at times makes is difficult to perceive what is optional labeling and what is mandatory.
Food Packaging Label – Basic elements
If you take a close look, you will notice that there are usually five elements that a food packaging label requires, i.e. unless a food producer is exempted from labeling their products. These elements are –
- Net weight of the product
- Address of the manufacturer
- List of ingredients
- Identity statement
- Nutrition facts
There are exceptions here as well. For example, you do not need to insert an ingredients list in case you are producing a single-ingredient food product, like honey. However, there are exceptions to this as well. If you produce honey by adding some other ingredients into it, like sweeteners etc., then you would be required to add that information on the honey label. This is just a simple example of how complex and confusing labeling regulations could be and how you need to carefully inform yourself in order to properly present your product in the market.
Health Claims, Allergens and Ingredient List
If there are allergens present in food, it must always be listed with the ingredients. Also, always be 100% sure while making health claims like “fat free,” “zero cholesterol” etc. The regulations for listing ingredients are a bit simpler. Ingredients should be listed by the food manufacturers in the order of predominance by weight – from the heaviest ingredient to the lightest, though this rule could be confusing at times when you need to label food such as cake made from a cake mix.
If you are a food producer unable to make heads or tails of food labeling requirements, you’ve come to the right place. Join this virtual boot camp by expert speaker Natasha Rowley-Phipps to get an understanding of the new food labeling regulations and ensure compliance and successful retail of your products.