USDA Food Label GuidelinesThe United States Department of Agriculture has strict guidelines for labeling, and for good reason. These guidelines are meant to protect consumers from misleading or vague ingredient listings and claims. However, the label approval process can be extensive and arduous. FSIS, the Food Safety and Inspection Service, has provided a list of the most common labeling mistakes to avoid. To see the full list and for more in-depth information on these mistakes and how to fix them, visit USDA’s website here.Many of these labeling mistakes affect the work flow of your label printing project as well. To avoid delays, the following are especially important:
- The formulation, processing procedure, or supporting documentation do not agree with or validate information and/or claims on the label, e.g., “lemon, thyme, pepper” claim on label but the formulation does not indicate that the spices contain thyme and pepper. Ensure that all ingredients are listed on both the label and application form.
- Product name is incorrect. Ensure that the same product name is used consistently throughout the label copy.
- Ingredients statement problems. Ensure that all ingredients are listed using their common name and in the order of amount used. These should be listed from the most amount used to the least amount used on the ingredient list.
- Nutrition facts problems. Ensure the proper amounts are listed for reference. The nutrient claims should align with the overall caloric values, and should include all macro and micro nutrients.
- Nutrient content claims are incomplete or do not comply with regulatory requirements, e.g., reference statement and quantitative information of comparative claims. Example: The FSIS does not allow nutrient additives to meat and poultry.
- Undefined nutrient content claims are used, e.g., leaner, low carbohydrate, very low in fat. Ensure that the claims are defined in the USDA regulations and are supported by your labels.