FDA Food Labeling Guide Made Easy

November 2013 | by Jenn David Connolly

UPDATED NOVEMBER 2016: This post reflects several updates in 2016 to incorporate the FDA’s new nutrition facts format and a few other things that people have been asking about. Enjoy!

Having designed gourmet food packaging for well over a decade now, we frequently reference the FDA website regarding their food labeling regulations and requirements. To say there is a lot to know would be an understatement. If you’ve ever searched for information there you’ve likely gotten lost in pages upon pages of food packaging legalese and obscure reference codes whose sources are difficult to locate. We know we’re not the only ones, so we pored over the FDA Food Labeling Guide in its entirety and condensed the basic requirements into this simplified, easy-to-understand reference list.

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There are many exceptions, exemptions and variations to the rules for specific product types, so be sure to check out the full FDA Food Labeling Guide for complete details. Each content section below contains links to the corresponding information on the FDA site for further elaboration.

OVERVIEW OF LABELING PANELS

Let’s first define a few things:

Principal Display Panel (PDP): The part of the package most likely to be seen first by the consumer on the retail shelf. If two or more surfaces qualify for this definition, they both are considered Alternate PDPs.

Required content for the PDP: Statement of Identity (what the product is) and the net quantity statement (amount of product). If alternate PDPs exist, this information must appear on each of them. For more detail, see the Statement of Identity and Net Quantity Statement sections below.

Information Panel: The panel directly to the right of the PDP as seen by the consumer. If this panel is unusable (e.g., gusseted box, folds, flaps, etc.), then the Information Panel is the next panel immediately to the right.

Required content for the Information Panel:
Note: there can’t be any other information or design elements between the required Information Panel content.

  1. Name and address of the manufacturer, packer or distributor. Unless it’s the actual manufacturer whose name and address are on the package, the name and address must also include the firm’s relation to the product—e.g., “manufactured for” or “distributed by.” If the firm’s name and address are listed in a current city directory or phone book, you can omit the street address and just include city or town, state, ZIP (or mailing code for outside US). The product’s country of origin is not required if manufactured in the US, but it is required for all imported foods. If you’re including the country of origin it must be located close to the firm’s name and address and be about the same size.
  2. Ingredients listed in order of greatest to least by weight. Must be on same panel as the name and address, but can be located before or after nutrition facts and name and address. You can list sub-ingredients of a food in parentheses following it—e.g., SEMISWEET CHOCOLATE CHIPS (SUGAR, UNSWEETENED CHOCOLATE, COCOA BUTTER, SOY LECITHIN [EMULSIFIER], VANILLA)—or factor in all sub-ingredients as main ingredients listed in order of greatest to least without naming the original ingredient that the sub-ingredients comprise.
  3. Nutrition Facts: see the Nutrition Facts section below for more detail on this.
  4. Allergen labeling if applicable. There are eight major allergens that are required to be listed if contained in the product’s ingredients: milk, egg, fish (must list species), crustacean shellfish (must list species), tree nuts (must list specific nuts), wheat, peanuts and soybeans. You can either list name of food source within the ingredients in parentheses following name of major food allergen—e.g., “whey (milk)”—or you can place the word “Contains” followed by source(s)—e.g., “Contains: milk, egg and almonds.”—immediately after or adjacent to ingredients. The allergen text must be at least as large as the ingredients text.

If you’re including advisory allergen labeling—e.g., “May contain…” or “Processed in a facility that also processes…”—this is not required, but it must be factual and not misleading. As this information is not required, it is not permitted to intervene with required information.

Labeling Area

In determining the labeling area size of a package, unusable areas such as flaps, closures, shoulders and necks are excluded. Bottoms of boxes that are easily seen by consumers are included in the total area (e.g., frozen food boxes). The labeling area size is determined by the total area available for labeling on the container, not just the size of the label applied to it.

Exceptions

  1. Alternatively, you can place all the required Information Panel content on the PDP.
  2. The required Information Panel content may be split up onto two Information Panels if there is insufficient space (sufficient space is determined by the entire labeling area on the package regardless of design elements and non-required information used) as long as the information in each section is kept together and not split up among the two panels (e.g., firm name and address are on the same panel, ingredients are on the same panel).
  3. If the labeling area is less than 12 in² (77.42cm²), you can include a phone number or address to access nutrition information—likewise if the container is unusually shaped with no sufficient labeling area.

Type Specifications for Information Panel Content
(See Nutrition Facts section below for its own type requirements.)

  1. The type size must be at least 1/16 inch (1.6mm) tall based on the lowercase letter o (or uppercase O if using all capital letters).
  2. The height of letters can’t be more than 3x their width.
  3. All required information must have sufficient contrast and be easily legible.
  4. If you’re using a foreign language anywhere on the package, all required information must be in both English as well as the foreign language.
  5. Artwork can’t be misleading and can’t detract from the prominence of the required information.

FDA link: General RequirementsIngredient Lists.

STATEMENT OF IDENTITY

As mentioned above, the Statement of Identity is the name of the food. It must be prominent—which is considered to be at least half the height of the largest text on the label—and bold, as it is one of the most important features on the PDP.

The name of the food is its name as determined by law or regulation. If none exists, then it must be the “common or usual” name of the food. If that doesn’t exist, then use a reasonable, descriptive name that is clear and not misleading. Common or usual names must be used when a food has one, otherwise it’s considered misleading.

Brand names (e.g., logos) are not part of the food name and should be reasonably less prominent than the food name.

“Fanciful names” that are commonly used and understood are permitted as the Statement of Identity when it’s obvious what the food is (e.g., “Vanilla Wafers”).

The Statement of Identity must also describe the form of the food if it is sold in different forms, e.g., sliced, half or whole.

A product’s name can be different from its Statement of Identity. For example, if you call your cracker product “Snackadeedles,” this would likely be the largest text on the PDP, and the actual name of what the food is (e.g., “crackers”) should be half the height of Snackadeedles.

FDA link: Statement of Identity.

NET QUANTITY STATEMENT

This is the amount of the product. It must be in weight, measure or numeric count (e.g., 10 cookies). If in weight or measure, the amount must be in both US and metric versions. The metric version may be located before or after the US version, or above or below it. The metric equivalent in grams rounds to the nearest whole number.

Type size is determined by the area of the PDP (width x height if rectangular or square; or 40% of product height x circumference if cylindrical). Required type must follow the Type Specifications above and be at least the smallest size permitted based on the PDP’s area:

If your PDP area is:
≤ 5 in² (32.26cm²)
> 5 in² (32.26cm²) but ≤ 25 in² (161.29cm²)
> 25 in² (161.29cm²) but ≤ 100 in² (645.16cm²)
> 100 in² (645.16cm²) but ≤ 400 in² (2,580.6cm²)
> 400 in² (2,580.6cm²)

Then your minimum type size is:
1/16 in (1.6mm)
1/8 in (3.2mm)
3/16 in (4.8mm)
1/4 in (6.4mm)
1/2 in (12.7mm)

Reference the Labeling Area section above for more details on what parts of the package constitute labeling area and what parts do not.

NUTRITION FACTS

Nutrition Facts are required on most food packages with labeling (there are a few exceptions), and must be located together with ingredients and name and address on either the PDP or the Information Panel. If there is no room on the Information Panel, then it is required to go on the next panel to the right, or if no room there, then on any panel visible by the consumer.

In 2016 the FDA released its update to the nutrition facts format. We cover both the old and new formats below, because you can still use the old format until July 26, 2018 (or July 26, 2019 for manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales). EDIT: As of July 13, 2017, the FDA has announced that they will extend the compliance deadline. They will release more information on the specific new dates soon and we will update here.

The Nutrition Facts content must always be enclosed in a box shape with at least a 1/2-point rule and must have sufficient contrast such as dark print on light background. Light print on dark background may be used as long as there is still sufficient contrast. The box background must be neutral (no graphic elements).

The FDA’s examples are in Helvetica, but any legible font may be used. Condensed fonts are permitted as long as all type requirements are still met.

Nutrition Facts Type Specifications—OLD FORMAT

Table headings (e.g., Amount per Serving, % Daily Value) must be at least 6-point type, and key nutrients must be at least 8-point type.

“Nutrition Facts” must be the largest text in the panel (larger than 8 points) and should extend the width of its box in Full Panel Format. (See below for other permitted formats.)

There is no specific thickness required for the three horizontal rules that separate the main section.

You may use type sizes no smaller than 6 points or all uppercase text as long as it is at least 1/16 inch (1.6mm) tall.

Nutrition Facts Type Specifications—NEW FORMAT

The FDA has provided detailed examples of each table format, so instead of repeating all that verbally here, I’m just going to link to their example straight from the source since it’s so thorough. FDA new nutrition facts font sizes and details.

The main changes to the new format are:

  • The numerical value for “Calories” is the largest information in the table
  • Added sugars are called out
  • The %DV footnote has changed
  • Vitamins A & C are no longer listed
  • Vitamin D and Potassium are listed
  • RACCs (Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed) have changed for some foods. Find the new RACCs here.
  • Some DVs (Daily Values) and RDIs (Recommended Daily Intakes) have changed. Find the new DVs here and the new RDIs here.

Nutrition Facts Formats
Reference the FDA Label Formats page (old format, but still a lot of applicable information) and the  new format examples page for examples of Nutrition Facts formats.

If there is not enough room for the Nutrition Facts Full Panel Format:

If the labeling area is greater than 40 in² (258.06cm²), you can use the Side-by-Side Format where the footnote is to the right of the Nutrition Facts box.

If labeling area is 40 in² (258.06cm²) or less, you can:

  1. Eliminate the entire footnote, including only the Percent Daily Values Footnote.
  2. Use the Linear Format (text in a box) if the tabular or column format does not fit.
  3. Use the following abbreviations: serv size, servings, fat cal, sat fat cal, sat fat, monounsat fat, polyunsat fat, cholest, total carb, fiber, sol fiber, insol fiber, sugar alc, other carb. If DV is abbreviated in its table heading, the Percent Daily Values Footnote needs to say “Percent Daily Values (DV)” with DV in parentheses.
  4. Place the Nutrition Facts label on any panel on the package.

If there is insufficient vertical space (e.g., less than 3 inches (76.2mm)) you can use the Tabular Format (horizontal).

Cellophane windows on boxes and visible parts of cellophane bags are considered labeling area if any labeling is on it—including non-required information such as a price callout label. If there is no labeling on the cellophane, then it’s not considered part of the labeling area.

If the Nutrition Facts contain less than the following amounts, you can omit their listings on the Nutrition Facts and say “not a significant source of…” and list the nutrients (in at least 6-point size).
fat cal < 0.5g
sat fat < 0.5g
trans fat < 0.5g
cholest < 2mg
sugar < 1g
vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium & iron < 2% RDA

Use of the Calories Per Gram Footnote is optional under any circumstances.

Simplified Format:
You may use the Simplified Format which lists only the five core nutrients (calories, total fat, sodium, total carbohydrate and protein) and declare any amounts that are significant enough to be listed if at least 8 of the following are insignificant:

Calories, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, sugars, protein, calcium, iron, vitamin A (if old format), vitamin C (if old format), Vitamin D (if new format), Potassium (if new format).

This format can be used regardless of labeling area size, as its use is determined by the nutrient content.

If you’re using the simplified format, you must include “not a significant source of…” and list all of the nutrients that are not a significant source if nutrition claims are made, vitamins and minerals are added, or any non-required naturally occurring nutrients (e.g., potassium) are declared.

FDA link: Nutrition Facts, Label Formats.

OTHER NOTES ON NUTRITION LABELING

The FDA states that it will likely not pursue any minor mistakes in nutrition labeling if the mistakes are unintentional. Once any errors are realized however, they should be corrected in future printings.

Mail order retail food must adhere to same requirements as in-store retail food.

If nutrition labeling is not required but the product has nutrition labeling anyway, the nutrition labeling needs to follow all the same required rules.

Foods that do not require nutrition labeling are: whole or ground coffee beans, tea leaves, plain instant unsweetened instant coffee and tea, condiment-type dehydrated vegetables (e.g., dried garlic), flavor extracts and food colorings.

If spices have nutrient levels significant enough for labeling, then nutrition labeling is required.

If the product doesn’t have nutrition labeling, it can’t have any other nutrition or health claims.

Nutrition Content Claims

A Nutrition Content Claim is any statement regarding a nutrient level in the food—e.g., low fat, high in fiber, fat free.

There are only certain claims usable that are approved by the FDA. Any others may not be used.

Claims can’t be more than 2x as prominent as the Statement of Identity.

Nutrition labeling (i.e., Nutrition Facts panel) is required for nearly all claims. No nutrition claims can be made if no nutrition labeling is present.

There has been new regulation in gluten-free labeling: any product with a gluten-free claim must have less than 20 parts per million of gluten.

FDA link: Nutrition Content Claims.

Handy Tools for Determining Nutrition Facts Numbers

Nutrition Facts rounding amounts rules.

Percent Daily Values calculations.

This article/blog is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice nor does it substitute for your reading and reviewing the applicable language from the FDA regulations or obtaining advice from the appropriate professional regarding what is and is not required by the FDA regulations. This article/blog is not intended to provide advice and direction on how to comply with the FDA requirements. The reader of this article/blog is urged to read the FDA regulations and/or obtain the appropriate professional advice on the FDA regulations. No professional, business or other advisory or economic relationship is created herein, and in some states these materials may be considered advertising.


77 thoughts on “FDA Food Labeling Guide Made Easy

  1. Emma

    Hi,
    Wonderful article, really simplifies the information in a clear way! I’m wondering if the nutrition facts linear format (paragraph format) must also be in a box shape with a 1/2 pt rule?

  2. Jackie

    I came across this article searching for information and it’s been a great help!! I’m wondering if you know a couple of things about “country of origin?” If you’re packaging cocoa and some comes from the US and some comes from Mexico, can you say “Product of USA and Mexico?” I’m never sure what to do when there is more than one country of origin. We could do check boxes, but that would slow down production. Do you know? Also, if you’re packaging the cocoa in a bottle made in China, do you have to say “Bottle product of China?” Or is it just the food item? (It’s so confusing!) Thanks for any help!

  3. Jennifer Tsai

    Hi Jenn,

    I found your article very helpful and I am interested in getting our company nutritional facts reviewed before launching. Could you provide a quote and we look forward to your reply. Thank you!

  4. Ken Oile

    Hi.
    Thanks for such an informative article.
    We are interested in selling a pet food(sun dried shrimps-organic) from East Africa in the USA market.We have already registered with FDA but have a challenge with FDA food label review.How can you help and how much will that cost?Would you also advise on the best yet affordable packaging?

  5. Joe Stainbrook

    We produce chocolate candies from bar chocolate not beans. We have labels printed for each product that we mfg. from cremes, clusters, barks, solids, filled, coated and on and on. This causes a need for hundreds of labels. Is there any way to come up with a standard label that would cover all of the ingredients we use and put this label on everything whether it has the ingredient or not included in the specific candy. In other words one label covers all candies and include the standard allergen statement on the bottom of the ingredient label. I am from the state of PA. and the rules/regulations seem enormous.

    Example – white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, dark milk chocolate = chocolate
    Palm oil, coconut oil, vegetable oil, olive oil = oil
    all creme filled candy no matter which flavor = flavorings
    peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans = nuts
    any and all dairy products = dairy products
    any and all flours = flour

    Label would than say – “chocolate, oil, nuts, dairy products, flour, flavorings”
    Standard Allergen Warning

    1. Jenn David Connolly Post author

      Hi Joe,

      There is no easy solution for this type of situation. According to the FDA you have to indicate the specific name of the food on the front of the package, and its nutrition facts and ingredients on the back. You can print all the nutrition facts/ingredients for any possible product in the package as long as the name of the nutrition facts matches the name of the product on the PDP. See L21 on this page: http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm064904.htm

      You can’t simplify the ingredients as that would not be accurate.

  6. Lorraine

    Hi Jenn,

    I’m in a process of designing the label for my product. I will need assistance reviewing it for accuracy. Can you help?

    Thanks!

  7. Melissa Custer

    I have a logo and website but I was wanting assistance in having a USDA label designed for meat products. Your article is very helpful but as you know the labeling process is not easy.
    Could you please send me info on prices etc.
    Thank you
    Melissa Custer

  8. Bart Marett

    Good afternoon Jenn,
    We are currently in design for a packaging adaptation from EU to US/ Mexico. Is it possible to have a packaging that can serve both countries at the same time using the same PDP ( nutricional information box, ingredients, and name of manufacturer?) I read somewhere that if you adapt the US nutritional information box (Already being bilingual for our target market) it can serve both countries, is this true?
    Also can you send us some information on your consultation services etc.
    Kind Regards
    Bart Marett
    Yatecomere

    1. Jenn David Connolly Post author

      Hi Bart,

      Yes you can have a bilingual package. The FDA specifies that all the required information be the same size in both languages, and if any foreign language appears on the package then all the required information must also be in the foreign language as well.

      We can’t advise on EU or Mexico regulations.

      I sent you an email with information on our consultation services.

      Best,
      Jenn

  9. Tuan

    Hi Jenn,,

    Very helpful information. I’m wondering though, does the FDA have any restrictions on when to use non-gmo or gluten free callouts? Can we just use these on the labels without it being certified? I’ve seen GF certified and Non GMO certified and I’ve also seen packages that just have these callouts without the certification on the back.

    Thanks!

    1. Jenn David Connolly Post author

      Hi Tuan,

      Regarding non-GMO, use of The Non-GMO Project logo requires certification from them, however the proof of certification does not need to be on the package. If you want to say on a package that the food does not contain any GMOs, the statement has to be true and not misleading, and you must be able to prove it if the FDA questions the statement.

      The FDA released a guidance on the labeling of GMO statements on packages. It was published in 2001 so some things have changed since then such as consumers are now familiar with the term GMO and non-GMO. (The Non-GMO Project was founded in 2007). The FDA has not updated the guidance since 2001 and it contains only nonbinding recommendations. You can read it here: http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/ucm059098.htm

      Regarding gluten-free statements, it is voluntary to make such statements however foods labeled on or after August 5, 2014 (when the FDA made their final ruling on the subject) must contain less than 20ppm gluten. The food label does not need to contain any information to back up the claim, however you must be able to prove it if the statement is questioned by the FDA. If the food is inherently gluten-free, there shouldn’t be any issue; however if the food is made from ingredients that were processed to remove the gluten, you must have evidence of this.

      Best,
      Jenn

  10. Giri Vijayan

    very valuable comments. Thanks ……

    please see my below concerns-
    1. Is FDA allows to label CHOCOLATEY instead of CHOCOLATE FLAVORED on Product Name?
    2. Is GMO Free can be labelled on the Pack Design?

    1. Jenn David Connolly Post author

      Hi Giri,

      1. The FDA states that identity statements must be accurate and not misleading. “Chocolatey” is vague – is it made with chocolate or is it just flavored with a chocolate flavor? It sounds like it is the latter based on what you said, so if that is the case it is probably safe to use the word “Chocolatey” to describe the product as long as you have an identity statement that clearly states what the product is – e.g., “Chocolate-flavored XYZ.” Additionally, if artificial flavor is used, in certain instances (but not all) require the principal display panel to state that the product is artificially flavored.

      2. GMO-Free labeling is permitted as long as the product meets that criteria AND you have proof to back up your claim. Use of The NON-GMO Project logo however requires certification from them. This logo may not be used unless your product has been certified by them.

      We do FDA compliance reviews for food packaging. If you are interested in this let me know.

      Best,
      Jenn

  11. Ash

    Hi Jenn,

    I am bring a herbal supplement to the USA market and wanted a label review. Please could you send me some details on services you offer?

    Thanks.
    Ash

    1. Jenn David Connolly Post author

      Hi Paul,

      Per regulation you can officially debut the new nutrition facts format in retail as of July 26, 2016. However I saw a package with the new format yesterday in a grocery store!

  12. Andy

    Thank you for this helpful info! I have a specific situation that I am finding puzzling, though, and having trouble finding a solid answer.
    I’m designing a label for a rectangular box, and in the design I prefer the art actually continues across the primary panel (which has the common name, brand name and weight), onto the label directly to the right. So, in effect, you can only see the entire design when looking at both panels.
    I wonder if there are any exceptions to the requirement that the Nutrition Facts appear to the right of the PDP? My total label area is almost 50 sq. inches.
    I believe the answer to this is no – the way I read the rule is that a second Principal Display panel would have to have all of the info (common name, brand name and weight) again. But…maybe? 🙂

    1. Jenn David Connolly Post author

      Hi Andy, there is an exception if the panel immediately to the right is not usable, then it can be the next panel to the right. Sounds like that would not be the case in your situation. If you have an alternate PDP then it needs to each contain all the required PDP information as well as the other PDP. An alternate PDP must meet the definition of a PDP: “the part of a label that is most likely to be displayed, presented, shown, or examined under customary conditions of display for retail sale.”

  13. Susan

    Can you tell me whether the order of ingredients on front of package for infant foods (e.g. kale, pear, spinach puree) must be the same as the order of the list of ingredients that is near the Nutrition Facts label? Or can the front of package read in a different order than the ingredient list?

    1. Jenn David Connolly Post author

      Hi Susan,

      If it is not an ingredient listing on the front of the package, to my knowledge the listing of ingredient callouts does not have to go in order by weight. Note that we don’t specialize in infant foods, so it’s possible that regulation may be different.

      Regardless, the information on the package can’t be misleading. So if kale is only a small portion of the ingredients and you have “KALE” large on the package and show a big bunch of kale, that would be misleading. This is an exaggerated example, it could be less drastic and still be misleading. Even just listing them not in order by weight could very well be perceived as being misleading. I recommend being on the safe side and listing those ingredients in order on the front.

      What is considered to be misleading is often a gray area, and it’s very costly to correct these issues after the fact. Additionally, any litigation against the manufacturer based on misleading packaging could be detrimental to the business.

      Best,
      Jenn

      1. Susan

        Thanks so very much for your reply. I appreciate it and have a couple of calls into infant food makers to see what their common practice is.
        Best,
        Susan

  14. Barbara

    Hi Jenn,

    What about certification stamps , specifically talking about Kosher. I couldn’t find anything regarding that topic on the FDA regulations. We currently have the Kosher stamp on the PDP. Can it stay there for the new label?
    Thanks!

    1. Jenn David Connolly Post author

      Hi Barbara,

      The package would need to follow the specifications of the certifying Kosher agency. FDA does not govern Kosher regulation other than that if you are claiming the product is Kosher then it needs to be factual and clear, and not confusing or misleading. Typically the Kosher logos are placed on the PDP or the information panel of a food package.

  15. Joel

    Hello,

    We´re in the process of exporting our product to the US. However, we still have plenty of doubts about regulations. We already register at the FDA website. We designed a label already, but would be great if we could get some expertise advice on that. Could you please give us a quote for reviewing our label to see if it meets the FDA criteria?

    Thank you

  16. Anil

    Hi Jenn,

    This is a great article! Only wish I came across this before making my first label, but have learned a lot. I’m working on a new label now – can you please send me some details on the services you offer?

    Thanks!

  17. Lisa R

    Hi Jenn,

    My name is Lisa. I am a fellow designer who is creating packaging labels for a client. The client has plastic microwaveable containers and wants wraps to be done on these so they aren’t typical boxes or cans, I don’t see anywhere on the site that talks about this kind of packaging. I’m not sure what would be considered the PDP in this case, or where I would put nutrition labels since the top is what you see first. I’m also a little unsure of what kind of nutrition facts label I am supposed to be using. Can I use any format (vertical, tabular) as long as it works with the design? Would you happen to have any information on nutrition labels for this kind of situation?

    1. Jenn David Connolly Post author

      Hi Lisa,

      Whichever panel faces the consumer on the shelf is the PDP. Some packages may have alternate PDPs—e.g., more than one PDP. If this is the case then the information panel is a panel immediately to the right of any PDP. If the PDP is the top panel of the package, then the information panel the side of the package immediately to the right of the PDP. If there is not enough space on that panel or if the panel is unusable, then the information panel is the next panel immediately to the right (or, in the case of not enough space, the required information can be split across two panels).

      The nutrition facts format used depends on the amount of total labeling area available on the package. See the Nutrition Facts Formats section of this article for more information on that.

      Best,
      Jenn

  18. Valeria

    Hi Jenn,
    I’m Valeria, I’m italian and I’m making a linear display for my product. The package is small, and the linear d. is the only one suitable. I’ve struggled with the FDA guide and the new rules. After a while I think I’ve done a good job, but I still wonder…

    It seems that the footnote has disappeared from the linear display, or at least this is what I see from the official example. Anyway I cannot find the recommendation/rule where this is officially stated, so I still cannot feel confident to delete the footnote.
    What would you suggest? Thanks so much, and my compliments for this website!

  19. Annie Bassin

    Hi Jenn,

    Great information and beautiful work! I am also a graphic designer launching my own personal Ginger Elixir. As you mentioned that there are some products that are exempt from having to list the Nutritional Label. Would you know if Elixir are on the list. I have a Shrub in the fridge that doesn’t contain a Nutritional Label and I think this product somewhat lives in that same space. Thanks for your help in advance!

    Much appreciated,
    Annie

    1. Jenn David Connolly Post author

      Hi Annie,

      Elixir does not suffice for a statement of identity. It needs to explain what the drink actually is, e.g.: juice, juice blend, juice drink, juice with added ingredients… Or, if not a juice, just be as accurate as possible, e.g.: water with ginger and spices, or coconut water with ginger. I have no idea what the ingredients of this product is, so find something that is applicable to your product. Hope this helps!

      The specific products that are exempt from nutrition labeling are the following: whole or ground coffee beans, tea leaves, plain instant unsweetened instant coffee and tea, condiment-type dehydrated vegetables (e.g., dried garlic), flavor extracts and food colorings.

      There is also a small business labeling exemption and you can read more about that here: http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm2006867.htm

      Best,
      Jenn

      1. Annie Bassin

        Thanks Jenn,

        I already stumbled onto the small business labeling, so I am glad I am heading in the right direction.

        There are only 4 ingredients, tons of ginger, honey, lemon and whole leaf tea. It is meant to be drunk over a few days as it is pretty intense and strong.

        I am going to include in my ingredients, hopefully that will do.

        Thanks again and let me know your thoughts.

        Annie

  20. Craig Fairclough

    Do you have sources for people or companies that can do the nutritional facts panel for my company? I have all of the figures that go into it, but need it to be put in the us regulation format for 2017
    Thanks, Craig

    1. Jenn David Connolly Post author

      Hi Craig,

      I get contacted often by people looking for just the information to be put into the nutrition facts label. Whoever is designing your food labeling should be able to do this for you. Also your nutrition analyst should be able to provide the information in a panel format to include on the labeling. I know a lot of people also use recipal.com to create them, so that could be a DIY option for you.

      Good luck!
      Jenn

  21. Susan Halsted

    Hi! I have an obscure question. I have a line of beverages that have all the same nutritional information (calories, vitamins, etc.) the only difference between them is the source of color (whether it is Fruit and Vegetable Juice for color or FD&C colors). I was hoping to print only one universal label (back panel). Is it legal to use one nutrition facts box and in the ingredient statement declare all ingredients which incorporates a “may contain” or “Contains one or more of the following” statement?

    1. Jenn David Connolly Post author

      Hi Susan,

      The FDA permits the use of and/or labeling only in the case of fats and oils where the added fats or oils are not the predominant ingredient and only if the manufacturer is unable to predict which fat/oil will be used. So this type of labeling would not be applicable to your situation for colors. You would need to list the actual ingredients specific to each product.

      Best,
      Jenn

  22. Gabriel

    Hi,

    Could you send me pricing for your FDA Labeling services. I need some assistance in Nutrition Facts size proper usage.

    Thank you.

  23. John

    Question about the address:

    Do we need to put the manufacturer’s address as in the address of where we produce our product? OR, where I, the manufacturer work and receive mail for my business? Those are two different addresses.

    So, production address or office address?

    1. Jenn David Connolly Post author

      Hi John,

      The FDA states: If a person manufactures, packs, or distributes a food at a place other than his principal place of business, the label may state the principal place of business in lieu of the actual place where such food was manufactured or packed or is to be distributed, unless such statement would be misleading.

      Best,
      Jenn

  24. Maree

    Hi Jenn,

    I’m only in the planning stages of my business right now and I’m already sinking in information. Very grateful for your article! I live in Dubai and am wanting to sell my product in the US but need to make sure I’m ticking all the FDA boxes. I am wondering what the nutritional label regulations are for a tea product that also contains dietary ingredients such as herbs and acai? Is it only whole tea leaves that are exempt from some labeling or is it all tea products? And also, is it a requirement to have a disclaimer when using any of these type of dietary ingredients stating “this product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease”? Many thanks for your help.

    Kindest regards,

    Maree

    1. Jenn David Connolly Post author

      Hi Maree,

      Only dietary supplements are subject to the FDA disclaimer (https://www.fda.gov/aboutfda/transparency/basics/ucm194357.htm). The disclaimer does not apply to food products, however the types of claims you can make on a food versus a supplement are different.

      Tea leaves and unsweetened instant teas are exempt from nutrition facts labeling. If you’re adding anything else then the product is required to have nutrition facts.

      Best,
      Jenn

  25. Amy Kelly

    Do you have any information or direction on where to look for putting “new” or “new look” on packaging? We have a new seasoning formula for an existing product. We also are updating our packaging with a new design along with the new nutritional panel and want to put something along the line of “Fresh new look, same great seasoning”. I believe it is six months or less to be able to have “new” on the front but I am not sure on “New look”. Thanks in advance.

    1. Jenn David Connolly Post author

      Hi Amy,

      This aspect is not regulated by the FDA to my knowledge. However all package labeling needs to not be misleading. So as long as you can back up your claim that the packaging or formula is considered “new” then that should be fine. I’ve never heard of the FDA cracking down on a new packaging claim though so I think you should be safe! I would say 6-12 months is sufficient for a new changeover and thereafter it would be established as the regular packaging/formula, but that is just my opinion.

      Best,
      Jenn

        1. Jenn David Connolly Post author

          Thanks for the info, Janet!

          I see that 6 months is generally considered the period for a “new” or significantly reformulated product. They do not address new packaging except to say that a packaging change alone does not make the product a new product. I would recommend to follow the same time period for a “new packaging” or “new look” claim.

  26. Angelica

    Hi!
    I found your article very informative.
    But I need some assistance regarding on proper labeling.
    May you send me pricing for your FDA Labeling services?
    thank you so much!

  27. Callista

    Do hibiscus tea flowers require nutritional labeling? I saw that tea leaves do not require the nutrition labeling. I was wondering if it is the same for flowers.

  28. Kristin Carman

    Hi Jenn,

    If your package is greater than 40 in², can you use the shortened footnote?

    Thanks.

    Kristin

    1. Jenn David Connolly Post author

      Hi Kristin,

      In the new nutritional facts format, there is only one footnote and it can be removed on packages for 40 square inches or less.

      In the old nutritional facts format, there is the %DV footnote, the “Your daily values” footnote, and the calories per gram footnote. The latter is optional on any size package. Packages with 40 square inches or less may use only the %DV footnote. Packages larger than 40 square inches are required to use both the %DV footnote and the “Your daily values” footnote.

      Best,
      Jenn

  29. janet coulson

    Regarding the Statement of identity and this statement:
    As mentioned above, the Statement of Identity is the name of the food. It must be prominent—which is considered to be at least half the height of the largest text on the label—and bold, as it is one of the most important features on the PDP.

    When i go to the https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=1&SID=4bf49f997b04dcacdfbd637db9aa5839&ty=HTML&h=L&mc=true&n=pt21.2.101&r=PART#se21.2.101_13
    it seems to have removed the “at least half the height of the largest text on the label”
    (d) This statement of identity shall be presented in bold type on the principal display panel, shall be in a size reasonably related to the most prominent printed matter on such panel, and shall be in lines generally parallel to the base on which the package rests as it is designed to be displayed.

    I often don’t see packaging coming close to meeting the 1/2 the size recommendation, do you think the FDA scraped this?

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