Manufacturing food products involves an unbelievable number of specific regulations, which are designed to protect consumers as well as companies. Beginning with the FD&C Act of 1938 (which was later amended to the NLEA in 1990) we’ve also had an equally long list of laws related to food labeling. It can be tough to keep tabs on every law for every aspect of food manufacturing—that’s why we’ve broken down some of the major points in labeling law below to make compliance easier.
As food manufacturers are well aware, reading through these laws can be tedious and frustrating simply because of their magnitude. There seems to be no end to the articles and legalese—in addition to the fact that the currently published laws are always being revised and will soon be irrelevant. The only way to know for sure which regulations apply is to consider the most recent “Final Rule” as published in the Federal Register. These changes will be reflected in a revised version of the law at some point in the future.
The heart of compliance, however, can be consolidated into this basic list of six steps food manufacturers must complete in order for your labeling to be compliant as of January 2017.
Configure your Information Panel correctly. This panel is directly to the right of the PDP and must include the manufacturer’s name and address, the ingredient list, nutrition label, and any allergy labeling (as required by FALCPA). Make sure that this information is easy to read and not crowded with intervening material such as your UPC barcode or any graphic elements.
Insert an approved Nutrition Facts Label. Your label must be in a box shape, must fulfill specific typeface requirements, and must use one of a select number of acceptable label formats. Do not include your product name anywhere in this section.
Declare nutrients for which there is a Reference Daily Intake (RDI). Your nutrition label is required to declare Vitamins A and C and minerals Calcium and Iron, regardless of whether they’re present in your product. However, any other added nutrients must be included in the ingredients list. You may round calories to the nearest 5 if the total amount is under 50, and nearest 10 if the total amount is over 50.
Determine your Serving Size using the RACC as a guide. Find your food item’s category in the table provided, and determine the RACC amount. Calculate the fraction of your product that is closest to this amount, and list the household measurement (cup, tbsp., etc) with the actual gram weight for that fraction.
Carefully substantiate any Nutrient Content Claims. These claims are a key part of food advertising, but require specific labeling to avoid misleading customers and to remain legal. These claims must be no more than twice as prominent as the statement of identity above. Be careful to include the appropriate disclosure statements as necessary.
Producing FDA-compliant nutrition labels is a complex process that requires your careful attention. While there are food products and companies that may be exempt from these regulations, the FDA specifies that “if a manufacturer, packer, distributor or retailer chooses to nutrition label a product that is exempt under 21 CFR 101.9(j), all applicable labeling regulations must be followed.”
If you’re putting a nutrition label on your product, voluntarily or as required, you will need to follow the steps above to ensure compliance—in addition to thoroughly consulting the guidance documents provided by the FDA.
Click here to read the entire Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 Chapter 1 Subchapter B Part 101 (which deals exclusively with food labeling).
Food labeling laws are being officially revised as we speak, meaning that the above regulations are entirely current—for now. A new final rule has been released by the FDA with compliance dates in July of 2018 and 2019 (depending on the annual food sales of your company).
According to the FDA’s official executive summary,
“The final rule updates the list of nutrients that are required or permitted to be declared; provides updated Daily Reference Values and Reference Daily Intake values that are based on current dietary recommendations from consensus reports; amends requirements for foods represented or purported to be specifically for children under the age of 4 years and pregnant and lactating women and establishes nutrient reference values specifically for these population subgroups; and revises the format and appearance of the Nutrition Facts label.
The nutrition analysis labels that you receive through your LabelCalc account are current and fully compliant with the FDA’s regulations. We will continue to update our product as the new final rule becomes law in 2018, so you can guarantee that the labels you receive are compliant with the new requirements.