In the United States, two different regulatory organizations oversee food labeling for different product types. The first post in our blog series broke down which food products fall under the labeling jurisdiction for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as how the above affects a product’s statement of identity. Now that we’ve established that base, we will delve deeper into the various differences between USDA and FDA food labeling, from the way nutrition claims are handled to safe handling instructions and everything in between. Below are six essential differences between food labeling guidelines for the two regulatory bodies:

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In a previous blog post, I explained that the new produce safety regulations released as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) do not address the cause of past foodborne illness outbreaks, leaving the produce industry in limbo. It also leaves consumers unprotected because they view most produce items as being “ready-to-eat” (RTE), meaning that they are able to be consumed without any additional washing or cooking. Regardless of where a farm or packing shed falls within the regulations, this perception by consumers raises significant concerns for public health, which then fall to the grower or packer to address. Continue Reading

The expression “may you live in interesting times” can be both a blessing and a curse. In North America, we are certainly living in interesting, challenging times for the food industry. The trade tariff wars and the uncertain fate of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) may leave companies operating within the United States, Canada and Mexico with a sense of instability. However, despite the political challenges, food safety regulations within North America are evolving in positive ways.

As the U.S. continues the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), Canada recently unveiled new regulations to implement its Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA). Will the new Canadian rules align with the U.S. FSMA regulations to harmonize food safety requirements and streamline trade between the countries? Let’s take a closer look at the most recent developments below. Continue Reading

The claims and information on a product’s label allow customers to make informed purchasing decisions. However, consumers may not realize when choosing between a frozen veggie or sausage pizza that the information on the labels for these two similar products is actually regulated by two different government agencies.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversee labeling for food items sold in the United States. The labels on products regulated by these two entities do share many common features, such as a statement of identity, net quantity declaration, nutrition label, ingredient statement and responsible party information. However, there are some differences in the information found on their respective labels. As part one of our two-part series on the differences between USDA and FDA labeling requirements, let’s examine the overlapping product categories and how the statement of identity can vary based on which entity oversees your product type. Continue Reading

During my 30-year career in the sensory and consumer research industry, I’ve found that some of the most misused and misunderstood tests by food manufacturers are difference tests, which determine if the attributes of two food products are different. One common difference test is a triangle test, which presents panelists in a study with three different samples to taste. Two of the samples are from the same product and one is from a different product. The test determines if the panelists are able to pick out the sample of the different product from the three presented. Continue Reading

The old saying is to never judge a book by its cover, but consumers regularly judge a food item by its label. Increasingly, customers are spending more time reading every part of a product’s label before they buy it, from the claims on the front to the nutrition information to the ingredients list. Here at Mérieux NutriSciences, our Labeling Compliance & Nutrition Services team works to help food manufacturers create compliant food, menu and nutrition labels with federal regulations, including Food and Drug Administration (FDA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health Canada. Continue Reading

Programs that help retailers and restaurateurs improve the quality of their products are worth their weight in gold, but who has the budget to support them? In this era of big data, it seems that insights and monitoring programs can equate to big money, but how can these insights help improve your operations as a food manufacturer? In particular, a program that tests products early in the supply chain gives your quality assurance (QA) team time to divert a substandard product from heading into the hands of consumers and creating a loss of brand equity. Continue Reading

It’s already been a month since the menu labeling compliance date of May 7, 2018 has passed! Can you believe it? Many restaurants and food service establishment teams are breathing a sigh of relief now that their menus are compliant, but do you know what you need to focus on next regarding menu labeling? To help shed some light on menu maintenance and future trends, read my responses to the 5 key questions you may have now that the compliance date has finally come and gone.

1) How is the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforcing these regulations? The FDA has said that they will be working with restaurants to make sure they are complying with menu labeling regulations accurately. However, it is unknown if the FDA will have an enforcement plan and charge fines for non-compliance in the future. Continue Reading