Food & Beverages | Labeling Requirements
Under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), FDA has jurisdiction over all food labels, except meat, dairy, and egg products. FDA food label regulations include requirements concerning mandatory declarations of most information contained on food labels, such as the statement of identity, net quantity, ingredients, Nutrition Facts, allergen risks, and food label claims. FDA regulations also permit certain conventional food labels and beverage labels to bear various types of food label claims, such as nutrient content claims, structure or function claims, and health claims, under strictly regulated conditions and requirements.
To comply with FDA food regulation, most food labels and beverage labels must contain Nutrition Facts declarations that conform to very specific requirements related to formatting, nutrient names and amounts, and Percent Daily Value calculations.
Under the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 (NLEA), FDA standardized and limited the types of claims permitted on food labels to include: health claims, nutrient content claims, and structure or function claims.
Health claims characterize the relationship between a substance and a health-related condition (e.g., “A diet low in sodium may reduce high blood pressure.”).
Nutrient Content Claims characterize the level of a nutrient in food (e.g., “Good source of protein.”).
Structure or function claims describe how a food or beverage affects the structure or function of the body (e.g., “Supports healthy blood circulation.”)
Food labeling on websites is a complex area of federal law because both FDA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulate food website and beverage website advertising. Therefore, websites that promote and advertise foods and beverages for sale must comply with both FTC and FDA laws and regulations. Federal law governing claims on such websites is particularly confusing because while FDA regulations limit the types of permissible claims, FTC regulations are not as restrictive. FTC regulates all food advertising claims under a “truthful and not misleading” standard. In addition, both FDA and FTC law require that all claims be substantiated, i.e. supported by adequate scientific evidence.
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