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How To Label Food Products

Updated:
August 6, 2021

Labeling Food Products According to FDA Requirements

One of the most important aspects of any food-based business is the label. Your food packaging must cover a certain set of information for it to be deemed "compliant." Without this clearance, you could lose the ability to sell your items.

With all the federal labeling regulations to abide by, this process can be scary to many entrepreneurs. Navigating the FDA website and applying their rules to your specific product/scenario isn't easy, so we've done all the hard research for you.

Below, we've outlined five of the most critical elements your food product label must contain.

1. Statement of Identity

Oikos yogurt example of FDA requirement: statement of identity

This tells the consumer what they're buying. You're free to name your product something fun or fanciful, but to be FDA-compliant, you must also list the standard/common name of your product.

In other words, no matter what you name your homemade chocolate chip cookies, it has to say 'chocolate chip cookies' on the label as well. If it's not a common food (i.e. it's something you created), try to describe the product as best you can.

Graphic requirements: In addition to listing the standardized food name, the FDA requires that it's at least half the size of the largest text on your label (or larger, depending on the context), written in bold text, and featured prominently on the front panel.

2. Net Weight or Contents Statement

Oikos yogurt example of FDA requirement: net contents

The net quantity of contents is the weight, measure, or numerical count of your product. It can also be expressed in combination, specifically as the numerical count and the weight or the numerical count and the measure.

Graphic requirements: Your net content statement must be in bold text, included in the bottom 30% of the front of your label, have plenty of surrounding free space, and run parallel to the base of your packaging.

Examples:

  • NET WT 12 OZ (340g)
  • NET WT 24 OZ (1 LB 8 OZ) 680g
  • NET 8 FL OZ (237mL)

3. Nutrition Facts Panel

Oikos yogurt example of FDA requirement: nutrition facts

This includes the nutrition information for your product. Most edible products require nutrition fact labels on the packaging, however, small businesses that meet a specific list of criteria are exempt from such requirements (discussed in the Exceptions section below as well).

Getting this info is probably one of the most stressful parts for most food creators, but it doesn't have to be. If your product needs a nutrition fact panel, find out how to get your nutrition information. There are a number of organizations that provide nutritional analysis and/or offer regulatory support.

Once you know the details, use our nutrition label generator to create the panel.

Graphic requirements: The nutrition fact label can be placed in whatever layout/orientation is best for your packaging. This can include vertical, side-by-side, horizontal, or linear.

Based on space and size limitations, you may opt for the full format nutrition label or a simplified version. Regardless of which format you select, the formatting of both the text and table is a very specific element that must be followed.

4. Ingredients List

Oikos yogurt example of FDA requirement: ingredients statement

For the safety of consumers, food manufacturers must list all ingredients used to create their product.

Of course, there are several exceptions to this requirement. For example, if you're selling something that's just one ingredient – like nuts or honey – there's no need to list ingredients on the label. But if you've added seasoning to the nuts or sweeteners to the honey, it would be necessary to include ingredients on the label.

This includes the sub-ingredients used as well. If you're listing ketchup as an ingredient, you must also declare the ingredients used in the creation of the ketchup.

You will also need to list any allergen statements in this section. There are eight foods believed to account for 90% of all U.S. food allergies (milk, egg, fish, Crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, and soybeans). If your product contains one of those leading allergens, the specific allergen must be identified in the ingredients list or directly beneath the ingredients list in a 'Contains:' statement.

Graphic requirements: All ingredient statements must be listed in descending order of predominance by weight. This means the heaviest ingredients should be listed first.

Any allergen statements must be given the same prominence in comparison, or more. The ingredient statement must be placed immediately beneath or contiguous and to the right of the nutrition facts panel.

5. Name & Address

Oikos yogurt example of FDA requirement: name and business of business

Food labels must provide consumers with the location of the business, whether you are the manufacturer or distributor. This "signature" as it has come to be known in the industry, is your standard mailing address: business name, street address, city, state/province, and ZIP.

If you plan to list an address other than that of the manufacturer, a clarifying statement must precede it (distributed by, imported by, etc.).

Graphic requirements: This information must be located in a conspicuous place on the label together with the other mandatory information and follow the same prominence requirements as the ingredient/allergen statements.

Other

If you're shipping your item using Amazon FBA, you're required to list an expiration date on the box and on each individual unit. This differs between states and organizations so double check your state's laws and any marketplace requirements to ensure your packaging meets each one's individual requirements.


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