Food & Beverages | Labeling Requirements

October 2017 Update: On September 29, 2017, FDA proposed to extend the compliance dates for the Nutrition Facts panel final rule to January 1, 2020 for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales. Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales have one extra year to comply. Pending completion of this rulemaking, FDA intends to exercise enforcement discretion with respect to the current July 26, 2018, and July 26, 2019, compliance dates.

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.

On May 20, 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published updated Nutrition Facts panel regulations for packaged foods. Originally these regulations were to go into effect as early as July 2018; however FDA has extended the compliance date indefinitely. The new rules are making the information more pertinent and accessible by: updating the Daily Values for some nutrients based on the latest scientific evidence, emphasizing caloric content, modifying the “Serving size” for many foods to reflect typical eating habits, including “added sugars” as a subcategory of “total sugars,” and replacing the requirement to include Vitamins C and A with Vitamin D and potassium. The format and content changes will provide consumers with better and more relevant information about the foods they are purchasing.

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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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At FDAImports.com, LLC we make certain our importing clients understand the importation process and assist our clients in identifying appropriate actions and responses should Customs demand redelivery of a conditionally released product, or should that agency issue a demand for payment of liquidated damages pursuant to the importation bond. It is important for your company to know and follow the laws, regulations, and procedures when importing products into the United States. Get Started.