Food labelling is used to inform consumers of the properties of pre-packaged food. The most important rule of labelling is that the consumer should not be misled. This section covers some of the main areas of food labelling requirements.
The term "label" refers to any written, printed, or graphic matter on the foods immediate container. "Labelling" includes the label and any other written, printed, or graphic matter accompanying the product in commerce (e.g., point-of-sale pamphlets). Most label information is required to appear on either the "principal display panel" (PDP) or the "information panel."
The PDP is the part of the label most likelyto be displayed to, and examinedby, consumers under customary conditionsof retail sale. The information panel isgenerally the panel contiguous to, and tothe right of, the PDP. If that panel isunusable or too small, the next panel to theright of it may serve as the informationpanel. If the top of the container is thePDP, the information panel may be anypanel adjacent to the PDP.
General prohibition against misbranding. Federal law provides that a food product may be deemed "misbranded" if any part of its labelling is false or misleading. This general provision establishes misbranding even where no specific regulatory requirement has been violated. A food also may be deemed misbranded if any required information is not presented prominently enough—that is, likely to be read and understood by the ordinary consumer under usual conditions of purchase and use.
Must the information on the label be in English? What must appear on the label? Is there anything else that should go on the label?
THE GENERAL LABELING REQUIREMENTS ARE THAT FOODS MUST BE LABEL IN ENGLISH.THE FOODS MAY ALSO BE LABELED IN OTHER LANGUAGES BUT ONLY IN ADDITION TO ENGLISH.
INGREDIENTS QUANTITY OF CERTAIN INGREDIENTS NET QUANTITY DATE OF MINIMUM DURABILITY ANY SPECIAL STORAGE INSTRUCTIONS OR CONDITIONS OF USE BUSINESS NAME AND ADDRESS OF THE MANUFACTURER OR PACKAGER.
PLACE OF ORIGIN OF THE FOOD STUFF IF ITS ABSENCE MIGHT MISLEAD THE CONSUMER TO A MATERIAL DEGREE. INSTRUCTION FOR USE IF NECESSARY
Statement of identity. The statement of identity (i.e., the name of the product) must be presented on the PDP. Both the FDA and the USDA have regulations establishing "standards of identity" for certain foods. These regulations prescribe the composition of a food and specify the name of the food to be used in labeling. For example, a food composed of tomato concentrate, vinegar, and spices must be identified as "catsup," "ketchup," or "catchup." However, not all statements of identity are dictated with such specificity. For any given product, the statement of identity is one of the following: The name of the food as specified in any applicable federal law or regulation, such as a standard of identity (e.g., "ketchup") or a federal common or usual name regulation (e.g, "peanut spread") The common or usual name of the food, established by common usage (e.g., "French toast") An appropriately descriptive term (e.g., "hard candy") A fanciful name commonly used by the public when the nature of the food is obvious (e.g., "candy corn").
Ingredients list. Each ingredient present in a food product must be listed by its common or usual name in descending order of predominance by weight. While most ingredients must be identified by their specific name, use of generic names is permitted for certain ingredients (e.g., "spices," "natural flavor"). Special rules apply to the listing of certain types of ingredients. For example, chemical preservatives must be listed by their name, followed by a description of their function—such as "BHT (a preservative)." Certified color additives must be identified by their specific name (e.g., "Yellow 5" or "FD&C Blue 1 Lake"), but color additives not subject to certification may be listed using a generic term (e.g., "artificial color") or a specific name followed by a description of its function (e.g., "caramel color").
An ingredient that itself contains two or moreingredients must be listed in one of two ways:By declaring the common or usual name of theingredient followed by a parenthetical listing all ofits components—for example, "milk chocolate(sugar, cocoa butter, milk, chocolate liquor, soylecithin, vanilla)," orBy listing each component of the multicomponentingredient without declaring the multicomponentingredient itself—for example, "sugar, cocoabutter, milk, chocolate liquor, soy lecithin, vanilla."The ingredients list may appear on either the PDPor the information panel, but it usually appears onthe information panel. It must appear on the samepanel as the nutrition facts and the signature lineunless space constraints prevent such placement.
The amounts of certain nutrients present in one serving of the food product must be presented in the "nutrition facts" panel. Similar products have the same serving size so that consumers can easily compare nutrient levels. Nutrition facts must state the serving size (i.e., the size of one serving) and, unless the product contains only a single serving, the number of servings in the package. Generally, the following nutrients must be declared: calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, sugars, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. If other vitamins or minerals are added to the food, they also must be declared. The graphic requirements for nutrition facts are highly detailed. Nutrition facts generally must appear on the PDP or the information panel. They must appear on the same panel as the ingredients list and the signature line, unless there are space constraints.
The net quantity of contents must be presented on the PDP of the food label in measures both English avoirdupois (i.e., ounces, pounds, etc.) and metric (i.e., liters, grams, etc.). For meat and poultry products, the net contents declaration is required to appear only in avoirdupois measure.
Any special storage instructions or conditions of use.
The name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor is typically called the "signature line" and must be presented on the same panel as the ingredients list and nutrition facts (usually the information panel), unless space constraints preclude such placement. If the name is not that of the manufacturer, it must be preceded by a qualifying phrase stating the firms relation to the product (e.g., "manufactured for" or "distributed by"). The signature line must include a city or town, state (or country, if outside the United States), and ZIP code (or mailing code if outside the United States). A street address must be provided unless the firm is listed in a current city or telephone directory.
Any information that is false or misleading in any particular will render a product misbranded. In determining whether a food label is false or misleading, both affirmative representations and omissions of material facts may be considered. Certain information is clearly prohibited from the labeling of food products. This includes unauthorized nutrient content claims (for instance, claiming "high in omega-3 fatty acids"), health claims not authorized by FDA or supported by an authoritative statement, and disease claims (for instance, claiming "helps lower blood pressure" would subject a product to regulation as a drug).