In Food labeling
Understanding which information to include on your principal display panel and information panel is a must for food manufacturers.

Understanding which information to include on your principal display panel and information panel is a must for food manufacturers. Image source: Flickr user Matthew Hurst.

As food manufacturers, we all want our products to taste amazing and appeal to a wide variety of customers. But before anyone tastes our product, they first experience it through the packaging. The size, design, colors, and wording used on the package can have a profound effect on how our product is perceived and often influences whether or not someone will pluck it off the grocery store shelf and place it in their cart.

While design and aesthetics are certainly important when it comes to product sales, food manufacturers must also work within certain FDA guidelines for food labeling. The front of the package called the principal display panel (PDP), for instance, has a unique set of FDA rules that it must comply with and information it must include. And of course, so does the information panel.

These two panels are the source of a lot of confusion among first-time food manufacturers with regards to where certain information should be placed on the package. So, in hopes of clearing up some of this confusion, I’m going to help you understand principal display panel requirements and information panel guidelines so you can confidently create your food label.

Principal Display Panel Requirements for the Front of Your Package

The principal display panel (PDP) is the surface at the front of any food package. This is the part of the package that faces forward on grocery store shelves and is typically the first thing a consumer will see when they look at your product.

There are, of course, certain requirements for the PDP of your product package. According to the FDA, the PDP must include the following information:

  • The name of the product/statement of identity: This should be the common name of your food product (i.e. brown jasmine rice). Creative/alternative names can be used as long as it is still obvious what the main food product is and the name is not at all misleading. This should be the largest and most prominent font on the package and should run horizontally so that it is legible.
  • The product brand: This often appears above the statement of identity and indicates who made the product (i.e. Jamie’s Whole Grains). The brand must be expressed in smaller, less prominent font than is used for the statement of identity.
  • The net quantity/weight/volume statement: This value lets consumers know how much of the product is contained within the package. The amount should be expressed in weight (i.e. ounces, pounds, or grams), numeric count (i.e. 6 pieces), or liquid measure (i.e. fluid ounces). Expressions of weight must have both metric and U.S. Customary System terms, such as 1 lb. (454g). The net quantity statement typically appears along the bottom of the PDP and must be a specific font size based on the area of the PDP (further guidance on determining acceptable font size can be found on pages 14 and 15 of the FDA labeling guide).

You may also include a photo or artwork of your product on the PDP to provide consumers with a visual representation of what is inside. It must not, however, be so prominent that it distracts from the above-required label statements on the PDP, and it must be an accurate representation of your product.

Other statements you want the consumer to see immediately may be placed on the PDP, such as nutrient content claims (NCCs) like “low-fat” or “low-calorie.” These statements, however, must not be larger than the product name, which should be the most prominent text on the package. If you choose to include NCCs on your PDP, you must provide qualifying information to prove the claim on the information panel to the right of the PDP.

What to Include on Your Information Panel

As you can likely imagine, the FDA also has certain requirements for the information panel of your product. The information panel is located to the right (the consumer’s right when they are looking at the package) of the PDP.

The following information belongs on the information panel:

  • Name and address of the manufacturer (street address, city, country, and zip code)
  • Name of the packer or distributor
  • Country of origin (if imported)
  • FDA-compliant nutrition facts panel
  • Ingredient list
  • Allergen statements

The first three points are pretty self-explanatory, but the last three can cause first-time food manufacturers some anxiety because the FDA has very specific nutrition facts label size requirements, format requirements, and information requirements about these elements. Luckily, food manufacturers can use online nutrition analysis software to help them create an FDA-compliant nutrition facts panel, an ingredient list, and allergen statements in mere minutes.

Creating the packaging and labels for your product can be overwhelming, so if you still feel uncertain, it can be a good idea to meet with an expert label consultant just to make sure you are doing everything correctly. They can take a close look at your label to check that it complies with the FDA’s guidelines and offer sound advice about improvements you could make. The best part is that by the end of the process, you’ll be able to confidently pitch your product to grocery stores knowing that your PDP and information panel are absolutely perfect.

At LabelCalc, our expert consultants are happy to help with all your labeling needs. We can even make your nutrition facts panel, ingredient list, and allergen statements for you. Contact us today to learn more.

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