So you want to import food into the United States and you need to know what to do, sound about right? Well, the good news, you’ve made it to the right place. In this article we will cover all the basics of importing food into the United States to help you achieve the approvals and clearances needed to begin to expand. The even better news is that the majority of your approvals and clearances will come from your product labeling — and that’s what we do here at LabelCalc. So take a few moments to read through these best practices and get ready, you’re almost ready for import!
First and foremost, you might find it comforting to know that according to the Food and Drug Administration, you do not need prior sanctioning or approval for your food product, “as long as the facilities that produce, store, or otherwise handle the products are registered with FDA, and prior notice of incoming shipments is provided to FDA.”
Once you have registered your facility with the FDA (or have ensured that the facility that you share with another manufacturer has been registered with the FDA, then there’s only a few steps left to import your food product into the United States.
Qualified Product Ingredients
If every country, there is a list of ingredients within foods and supplements that have been banned. These ingredients can be additives, colorings, stimulants or other risky ingredients that can pose a threat to public health. This list varies from country to country. Ingredients that have been banned in the United States might be allowed in the country of origin. For this reason it is important to check your product ingredients against the list provided by the Food and Drug Administration.
Once you’ve verified that your product ingredients are not restricted in anyway, you’re that much closer to importing your food product into the United States. However, before you’re ready to give the FDA a notice of import (we’ll get to that in a second), you’ll have to make sure that your food product has been labeled correctly. And that’s actually where we come in. Make sure you really pay attention to this next part, this will make or break your ability to import and sell your food product in the U.S.
FDA- Approved Nutrition Labels
This might be one of the most important parts of preparing your product for sale in the United States: making sure that you have an FDA-Approved nutrition label for your food product packaging. This nutrition label lists the nutrition information as well as the ingredients and allergens within your food product. Without it, you will not be able to sell your food in the United States, even if it has qualifying ingredients. So it’s really important that this step gets taken care of well in advance.
A nutrition facts label contains all of the following:
- Serving Size
- Servings Per Container
- Nutrients (Calorie count, Fat, Carbohydrate, Protein, FIber, Sugars)
- Vitamins & Minerals
An ingredient statement contains all of the ingredients listed in descending order by weight. And an allergen statement is composed of any of the Top 8 Allergens that are required to be listed by the FDA if they are present in your product ingredients.
An FDA-approved, 2021 Formatted nutrition label in the United States looks like this:
The ingredient and allergen statements that accompany this label looks like this:
LabelCalc’s platform allows you to create your own FDA-approved label OR you can simply send your recipe to us and we will create your label, ingredient and allergen statements for you.
Notice of Import
Do not, and we repeat DO NOT try to import a food product — even if the facility has been registered — without giving prior notice to the FDA that you intend to import. It will be refused at the port of entry without prior notice. Notifying the FDA is simple, it may take a while, but it is simple.
Once you have created your account, you must send the United States Customs and Border Control a prior notice of your intention of importing food into the United States.
And there you have it Importer! You are equipped with all the basics you need to know about importing food into the United States!