FDA Food Labeling Requirements

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the entity responsible for monitoring and assuring that all foods sold within the United States are “safe, wholesome, and properly labeled.”  Because we get so many inquiries on the subject, I thought a blog on it would be appropriate.

There are various guidelines governing the way to properly label food products, and it is important to ensure you are operating within these regulations.  These rules apply not only to food produced within the United States, but also to food being imported from foreign countries. Here  we will examine a few general principles of labeling, but please be sure to visit the FDA’s Food Labeling Guide for further detail.  This site allows for the guide to be downloaded in various languages including English, Spanish, Arabic, Hindi, Chinese, and Japanese.

Before reviewing what should be included on an information label, let’s begin by discussing where exactly label statements must be placed. There are two important terms we need to understand here; the principal display panel and the information panel. The principal display panel (PDP) is defined as “the portion of the package label that is most likely to be seen by the consumer at the time of purchase.” The information panel is located directly to the right of the PDP, as seen from the perspective of a consumer facing the product.


These two sides of the packing will contain a lot of important information pertaining to your product.  According to the FDA,  the PDP must contain both the statement of identity and the net quantity statement for your product. Essentially, this means you need to include the name and amount of your food/product.  The information panel will contain more of the specific details.  The FDA requires that the information panel include “the name and address of the manufacturer, packager, or distributor, the ingredient list, nutrition labeling, and any required allergy labeling.”  These statements must appear together and without any intervening material separating them.

The formatting requirements of labels are very specific.  In general, the standard provided by the FDA is to “use letters that are at least one-sixteenth inch in height based on the lower case letter “o.” The letters must not be more than three times as high as they are wide.”  It is important to realize that while this is the general standard, different elements of the label will have their own specific requirements. For example, required type sizes for the statement of identity will be different from those for the Nutrition Facts label.

While we hope this post served as a good introduction, please visit the FDA page referenced above for the complete Food Labeling Guide; it will detail all requirements of FDA labels. For periodic updates on important topics such as this, subscribe to our blog today!


Source: “U.S. Food and Drug Administration.” Food Labeling Guide. 2013. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.


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