Food labels can be complex for those who prepare and apply them as well as those who simply want to understand the products they are purchasing. Those who create and apply labels must understand the regulations to avoid the potential negative consequences of labeling errors. An inaccurate label can lead to customer or consumer complaints, product recalls, FDA or USDA enforcement actions, fines, and even harm to consumers’ health. Companies need to know how to legally label their products and the accuracy that is required. Those who purchase products should also know what information on the label is mandatory and where to find that information. They should be aware of the level of accuracy required, or not required, regarding the data presented on labels. Does an expiration date mean the product should be thrown out after that date? When comparing items for purchase, is the one with 150 calories better for you than the one with 160? Those responsible for purchasing products to serve in restaurants, hospitals, day cares or schools should know what they are buying based on the data on the label. Understanding the labeling rules will help with purchasing decisions.
This presentation will assist employees of the food industry in knowing how to legally prepare labels for both FDA and USDA interstate commerce food products. It will also help consumers identify the information on labels essential to making purchasing decisions. The presentation will review topics such as the basis of the labeling laws, a review of select food standards, the basic label approval process, the mandatory features of labels, the meaning of allergen declarations, the nutritional ‘facts’ panels, the rules behind health claims, and country of origin declarations.