Guide to FDA Food Labels and Requirements
Whether you’re growing berries for frozen fruit mixes or preparing a pre-packaged snack, FDA food labels are an essential part of the process. You may have experience with FDA nutritional labels, but what about others, like allergy concerns or serving sizes?
In this guide, we’ll give you a simplified version of the extensive US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food labeling guide. We’ll include information about nutritional facts, health concerns and allergen labeling. Although this guide will refer to the FDA food label guide, it shouldn't be considered a replacement. When developing FDA food labels, always verify that they meet the standards laid out and explained in detail in the FDA food label guide.
What Are the Current FDA Food Label Requirements?
The FDA food labels your product needs depends on the specific product you’re selling. There are five components that are required for all food packaging labels. Keep reading to learn more about the most important FDA food label requirements.
The nutrition facts are the most familiar and most perplexing part of any FDA food label. An FDA nutrition facts label contains information regarding the nutritional value, serving size, vitamins and minerals present in the food.
According to the FDA, nutrition labels should be placed next to the ingredients list within a box. The box helps consumers know where to look for nutritional information.
On the FDA nutrition label, you should accurately display the nutrition designations in your product. That means measuring the number of carbohydrates, protein, fats or any additional nutritional content and including them on the label.
The nutrition facts should also include a serving size based on weight, volume or numerical content. The serving size should be placed near the top of the FDA nutrition label, right below the bold “Nutrition Facts” heading.
Product Name and Identity
In large font, you need to display what your product is. For some products, like canned corn, the product name and identity may be the same thing. With other products, like Hawaiian Punch, you need the product name and identity, which in this case is fruit punch.
The FDA recommends putting the product name on the front of the package, with the font parallel to the package’s base. They recommend this for FDA food labels because consumers can more easily identify the product they’re purchasing.
Product’s Net Weight or Total Contents
The product’s net weight tells consumers how much of your product is in the package. You can express net weight on labels in either weight, volume or numerical count.
The weight or content's measurement must be on the same side as the product name and identity. The weight must be a distinct item. The net measurement must be placed on the bottom third of the packaging.
The FDA states that an ingredient list is a label that lists the number of ingredients in descending order of weight in the product. Put simply; you should list the ingredient that weighs the most in a product first, then the next heaviest and so on. Every ingredient you add to the product must be on this list. The FDA does this not only for nutritional purposes but also for allergies and health issues.
The ingredients list should be beside or below the nutrition facts. The FDA food label guide dictates this as their best practice because it allows consumers to see what’s in their food, along with the nutritional facts.
Manufacturer or Importer Location
FDA food labels need to include the address of the manufacturer or the importer’s address for imported products. The FDA needs the name and address of the product manufacturer. If that’s not possible to get, the distribution or importer name and address will suffice.
The manufacturer’s location is usually near the base of the product package. The font needs to contrast well against whatever background color you choose for the rest of the label.
Other Food Label Tips
The FDA has rules about other labels too. The five primary labeling rules above apply to every food product sold in the US. For other products, you only need to apply certain labels to your product if it meets the current FDA criteria. Let’s go through some less familiar components of FDA food labels.
According to the FDA nutrition label requirements, you must make sure you label any of the eight major food allergens in your product. The current eight major food allergens are:
- Crustacean shellfish
- Tree nuts
The FDA states there are two appropriate ways to tell consumers these allergens are in your product. You can either put the allergen’s name in the ingredients list or you can place another line of text below with a “Contains” statement.
The FDA food labels cover health claims, like fiber or sodium content, as well as many others. The claims you can make about your product depend on the FDA food label requirements for your specific product. Be sure to refer to the full FDA label guide to see if your product can make health claims.
Whether you’re using a natural additive like turmeric or artificial color, you have to name the additive in the ingredients list. You must declare each color separately in the ingredients list. So, if you used a blue and yellow coloring to achieve a green, you need to state you used both colors separately.
This guide is just a breakdown of the chief things you need when producing FDA food labels for your product. Remember, specific products have different labeling requirements. Make sure to refer to the FDA food label guide to confirm you’re staying in line with all current standards and requirements.
Create Custom FDA Food Labels with the Help of LLT
By following the rules laid out in this article and the FDA food label guide, you can ensure your product is ready for consumption across the US. At LLT Labels, we work hard to provide customers with complete adhesive solutions customized to their needs and specifications. Reach out for a quote or additional information about our selection of FDA food labels. Shop our diverse selection of custom food packaging labels today.