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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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

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

When you go to the store and pick up a container of strawberry yogurt, you probably don’t put much thought into how it gets its strawberry flavor. Does it contain actual strawberries or does it only contain an artificial flavor? Both natural and artificial flavors are frequently used to impart or enhance specific flavors in food products.

Before we delve into how natural and artificial flavors affect labeling, let’s look at the difference between the two. The FDA considers a natural flavor to be an additive to a product, “which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.” So, natural flavors generally come from plant or animal sources, such as the natural strawberry flavor for a yogurt. Conversely, any substance used to flavor a product that is not derived from one of the sources listed in the natural flavors definition is considered an artificial flavor by the FDA. Continue Reading

Today, there seem to be more grocery store chains than ever before. However, despite the variety of options, if you explore any of them you will find a similar pattern – an expansive brand of products unique to that store, otherwise known as a Private Label Brand. In recent years, chain-style grocery stores have shifted their focus to increasing their brand recognition. In order to accomplish that, they need to deliver quality consumer packaged goods at a competitive price. The resulting “private label war” has been driving down the prices of store brand food products, thus creating more competition for well-known national brands. Continue Reading

If you’re manufacturing organic products, it’s vital to understand the labeling requirements and what claims you can make based on your products’ ingredients. For example, do you understand the difference between a food labeled as “organic” and one that’s “made with organic ingredients?” While these statements may seem interchangeable at first glance, the USDA organic labeling guidelines specifically define which claims you can and cannot use, based on the composition of your product.

The labeling of organic foods in the U.S. is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) according to the National Organic Program detailed in 7 CFR Part 205. This set of rules is separate from the overall Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food labeling regulations, outlined in 21 CFR Part 101, which apply to all food products. While these two sets of regulations differ in several aspects, both are applicable to organic packaged food products available in the U.S. Continue Reading

Would mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labels or a symbol to designate a food as ‘Healthy,’ help curb the incidence of diet-related chronic diseases? Academic and industry research has shown that nutrition information on the front of food packages is more commonly viewed by American adult consumers than the Nutrition Facts panel, which is placed on the side or back of a package. The increased viewing of nutrition information is associated with healthier dietary patterns. While several countries are advancing regulations for front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition labeling schemes, the future of a mandatory FOP system in the U.S. remains uncertain. Continue Reading

An Ever-Expanding List

California’s Safe Drinking Water & Toxic Enforcement Act, known more commonly as Proposition 65, is a law adopted by California voters in 1986. The goal of the new regulation was, to not only protect citizens from potential health hazards in water, but also protect them from exposure to any cancer-causing substances, in general. Since its enactment over three decades ago, the list of chemicals within the legislation has grown to include nearly 1,000 entries. The regulation requires businesses to publish a “clear and reasonable” warning prior to knowingly and intentionally exposing any consumer in California to a listed chemical. On food products, this warning must be placed somewhere on the food label. Keep in mind, Proposition 65 allows for a one-year grace period from the date a chemical is added to the list before a warning is required. Continue Reading